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Jingle all the way to Lapland

Press Association logoPress Association 22/12/2016 Sarah Marshall

Our Lapland adventure began with an early morning flight from the northern England city of Manchester. The airport was empty, except for our check-in desk, where the party had already begun. All you had to do was head for the turkey hats and Jingle Bell Rock.

We were flying out with families who'd booked a day trip to Lapland, although we were on a three-day package.

Our plane had a bright red nose and painted antlers. The pilot told us it was reindeer-powered, although if that was the case, I'm not sure why he needed us to scream so loudly to help him take off.

Flight attendants wore flashing antlers, kids squealed carols through in-flight microphones, and the co-pilot even spotted Rudolf - although we missed him, twice, despite the fact he flew both sides of the plane.

We landed in Kittila, deep inside the Arctic Circle. In winter, it's only light for five hours a day and temperatures can drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Helpful elf Chestnut kitted us out in thermal suits, hats, gloves and boots and took us to the Crazy Reindeer Hotel, in Levi, a 15-minute drive from the airport. Fires burned in the lobby, rooms were modern and warm, and there was plenty of choice for dinner.

Our trip included various excursions. We sat on sledges, wrapped in blankets, as howling huskies pulled us through the snow; we met reindeer, patting their furry faces and admiring their large, dewy eyes. We adults had the chance to let off steam, revving our snow mobiles on a ride through the vast, white landscape, pulling a sleigh-full of wide-eyed kids behind us.

On our last day, we visited Thomson's Snow Village, the venue for its day trips to Lapland.

There were husky and reindeer rides, cookie decorating, Christmas crafts, sledging and mini-skidoos for the kids. Its centrepiece was an ice hotel where vodkas were served in ice glasses, under a sculpture of a life-sized polar bear in the bar.

That evening, back at the Crazy Reindeer, it was party night, with Christmas jumpers, crackers and turkey. Thomson reps put on a panto with lots of tinsel and tiaras. The kids sat, cross-legged and captivated, as Cinderella belted out Kylie classics. Then we piled outside for fireworks in the snow.

On our return flight, we spotted the Northern lights, swirling magically through sky. For those of us not cuddling a toy from Santa, it was the perfect Christmas present.

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