Visiting R 146 29

This post is part of a bigger trip I made through Scandinavia with focus on Norway.

The Arctic Circle

For sure you have heard of the Arctic Circle. But do you know what exactly this Arctic Circle is? I must admit, before my visit I would have been at least unsure about the right answer. The Arctic Circle is the circle of latitude where on the shortest day of the year the sun will not rise all day, and on the longest day of the year the sun will not set. When you cross the Arctic Circle towards the North you will be able to experience the midnight sun and the polar night.

Globe with the North Pole at the top, the Arctic Circle shown as a dotted line. A white dot from fingers scratching the paint of at the location of the circle in Finland.
Information board at the Arctic Circle – the white spot is indicating the current location by the “here we are”-finger

Even though I traveled later during the year and therefore missed the midnight sun I could still sit outside until 11 pm and had enough light to read.

In Santa Claus Village (see below) the Circle is painted on the ground as a line. You will find references to this circle of latitude everywhere across the globe. This here is a very prominent example. And of course it is a lot of fun to cross this line.

Main square of Santa Claus Village, 4 red columns saying Arctic Circle on stone platforms, a white line between them
Here is the Arctic Circle (or is it not?)
Selfie with the white line in the background saying "Arctic Circle"
Now truly getting North

Something I really didn’t know though is, that the Arctic Circle is not steady. It is moving around 14.5 meters (48 feet) each year, currently towards the North. This is because the Earth’s axis is not always at the same position. It fluctuates over a 41,000 year period. This is known as the axial tilt.

This means that the line on the ground is not the actual Arctic Circle. It used to be the correct position at some point of time. However, I couldn’t figure out when and therefore not calculate the current position myself. Depending on which source I read it would be around 1 to 2 km away from this spot today.

This makes crossing the line here more a symbolic act – and still a lot of fun.

Christmas during summer

Santa Claus Village began with a cottage for the visit of Eleanor Roosevelt (widow of the US president Franklin D. Roosevelt). She wanted to check on the progress of the post-war reconstruction that was supported by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. She was also interested to cross the Arctic Circle while visiting. As there was nothing at this site the local administration decided to build a cottage.

Originally the Santa Claus’ home is in Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland. This is a protected landscape, so a theme park was created in Rovaniemi, which is the capital of Lapland. This is how the cottage became the starting point for this rather unusual village that reaches its full potential during wintertime. During summer most of the attractions are closed. Driving snowmobiles and having Husky adventures don’t really work well at that time.

However, you can still see Santa Claus (though you need to pay for this) and you have decoration everywhere.

2 decorated Christmas trees in artificial snow, plastic figure of Santa Claus covered with small lights
Christmas is everywhere around you here

Sometimes those decorations look a little lost.

Red wooden house with white frames, small porch with an artificial Christmas Tree
Christmas tree on every porch of the vacation homes

Due to the long days in the summer it is hard to enjoy the lights that are everywhere. Around midnight it is possible to have some idea on how it could look like during winter.

Square with the Arctic Circle posts, long stretched houses in the background, one with a rectangle tower having a big Santa Claus face on a sign, chain of lights on the house
Main square at night (in the summer)
Chain of lights on the vacation homes
Holiday village

Some travel tips (from 2021)

  • There is a big parking lot at Santa Claus Village that also offers free spots for camper vans and caravans (without any logistics). It is next to the highway but there is less traffic at night.
Camper van in the foreground, holiday village in the background
It was so empty on that day that I could park next to the vacation homes to not be directly at the street
  • If you can’t find anything there the gas station across the street also seems to have some places available.
  • You can get free wireless access on the main square of the village.
  • The village has a live webcam feed via YouTube. If you have loved ones at home it can be fun to wave hello.
Snapshot of a computer screen showing the YouTube live stream, me waving into the camera
Saying “hi” to my family

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