Due to Lapland’s strong association with Christmas, most visitors think of the province strictly as a winter destination. But in truth the best times to visit are in spring and fall, when there’s at least some sunlight and the temperatures aren’t so severe. Spring is a good time for downhill and cross-country skiing, especially in April, when snow is still abundant and the sun shines bright. Ski resorts include Ylläs, Finland’s largest, and Levi, which is a favorite for snowboarders. September brings scenic fall colors, or ruska.
Summer’s midnight sun makes for endless days that hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with little precipitation and around-the-clock opportunities for hiking, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking. The downside? It also melts the snow into bogs that breed aggressive mosquitoes, especially in June and July. Stick to the province’s cities and towns, where events such as Rovaniemi’s Jutajaiset folklore festival and the annual Midnight Sun Film Festival in the village of Sodankylä offer good ways to stay entertained. Once August hits, Lapland’s wilderness becomes tolerable once more. This is also a popular month for festivities: the Goldpanning Finnish Open, which attracts hundreds of panners from across Finland and other countries, takes place in Tankavaara, and Luosto hosts the Luosto Classic, a classical music festival at multiple outdoor venues.
To really get into the holiday spirit, a visit during late November or December is a must, though temperatures can go as low as minus 50 degrees. Dog-sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and reindeer-sledding are all offered during winter months, but due to the extreme cold and darkness, a guided tour is highly recommended. Winter is also the best time to experience the Northern lights, and the only time to experience the famous Ice Hotel, which opens for the season in December and typically closes around the end of April