All posts by Riina Aapa

Finland – the true winter wonderland

Window ferns

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas….” This time of year is strongly associated with idyllic images of snowy landscapes, frosty breath, icy window ferns, winter woollies and steaming hot drinks. For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere these are the stuff of fairytales, but in places like Finland in Northern Europe, it is the norm.

I grew up in Finland and only recall one childhood Christmas without snow. Now I live in Melbourne (Australia) and have to make do with paper snowflakes such as these:

paper snowflakes

Visiting Finland

Winter is a great time of year to visit Finland as it really is the true winter wonderland. Here are just some ideas for what to see and do in Finland in winter:

Kemi Snow Castle

Kemi Snow Castle

For a true “Frozen” experience, you cannot go past the gigantic Snow Castle in Kemi. You can even stay there overnight in the Snow Hotel!

(Photo credit)

For more snow inspiration, check out these destinations and ideas.


Santa’s hut

cropped santa

For those who believe in the magic of Santa Claus (a.k.a. Father Christmas, or Joulupukki in Finnish); he welcomes you to visit his home near the Arctic Circle in Finland. He may be a little busy bringing cheer and happiness to children everywhere around Christmas time, but is more than happy to hear your Christmas wishes all year round.



Aurora Borealis – The Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights: Celestial Performances of the Aurora Borealis

If it is magic you are after, not much compares to the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. They are visible on roughly 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland and the further North you go, the better your chances of seeing them. You can learn more about it here or if you cannot quite justify the cost of flying to Lapland, this coffee table book has some stunning images:



Now before you book your tickets, here are some useful resources to help you scratch that travel bug bite and prepare for the trip!

Lonely Planet Finland

Finnish for your trip










Finnish DesignLiving in Finland

Books for Big Fat Smile

Big Fat Smile is a voluntary community organisation established in January 2012 by two friends, Kelly and Angela. They collect second-hand children’s clothing and toys, bag them by the age and sex of each child and then work with agencies in the community who distribute them to families in need. Each pack contains a selection of clothes, a toy and importantly, a book.

Booko shares Big Fat Smile’s appreciation of literature and wanted to help them include an age-appropriate book in each child’s pack. We weren’t ready to part with any of our kids’ books yet, so we used Booko to source some reasonably priced books that have been either tried and tested by our toddler or recommended by friends. This week we were glad to hand Big Fat Smile a bag of books for children aged 0 – 5. We really hope the books are enjoyed by the children who receive them, together with their parents/carers.

If you have any clothing, toys or books, primarily for children aged 0 – 5, that you no longer need, please get in touch with Big Fat Smile. You can find them on Facebook.