Kemi is one of the few places in the world where the sea completely freezes over, creating an icy playground quite unlike any other. The town is located in the Sea Lapland region and combines incredible outdoor pursuits with Lappish culture and traditions.
The surrounding Gulf of Bothnia, with its stunning archipelago, becomes a true winter wonderland as the seasons pass. When it freezes over the real fun begins – from ice driving to icebreaker cruises the possibilities are endless. In the summer it’s no less magical with 24 hour daylight, or ‘white nights’ illuminating this stunning landscape.
For the adventurous, Kemi is an absolutely essential destination. How about Arctic island-hopping on skis or taking part in the SnowOlympics on an island in the middle of the frozen sea? Maybe a SnowBall fight or riding across the sea on a bicycle?
Kemi is brimming with amazing attractions and events. You can enjoy a drink in the ice bar with handmade ice cups before spending the night in the SnowHotel in rooms made entirely of snow and ice, all beautifully lit and decorated. The SnowHotel is the World Luxury Hotel Winner 2016 and guarantees the perfect night’s sleep even in the coldest of climates. There is also a wildlife park with polar bears just a short ride away.
Kemi is home to the famous icebreaker ‘Sampo’ – the only passenger icebreaker in the world. ‘Sampo’ holds the key to experiencing the freedom of the Arctic in its fullest, you can ride out to her on snowmobiles and climb aboard in the middle of a vast ice field. Check out the massive engine room and meet the captain on the bridge. The interior of the ship is warm and welcoming with delicious meals served in the cosy Sampo Arctic Restaurant. A highlight of the cruise is to witness when the ice, over a metre thick, dramatically splinters as the force of the icebreaker ploughs through. You can then float in the freezing sea among the chunks of ice kitted out in a special survival suit.
The Arctic Sunrise Cruise offers the beauty of sunrise while the Blue Moment Cruise, as the name suggests, is famous for the Arctic blue moment of the day. The moon and stars and the incredible Northern Lights set the scene for the Evening Cruise.
Santa Claus and the Northern Lights
Legend has it that Santa Claus is from Finland and Kemi is recognised as the ‘official port of Santa’. You can meet him and his sailor elves in Santa´s Seaside Office or join the elf at work and send your Christmas wishes through ‘bottle-post’! This attraction also provides a cosy café and souvenir shop, so there is something for all the family. Remember to have your picture taken with Santa and send special greetings to your friends.
The Christmas lights that decorate the town are stunning during the winter months. In Lapland you can experience 24-hour daylight or darkness depending on the season you visit – but anything is possible whatever the conditions. Although temperatures can drop to around -20°C, so plenty of warm clothes are essential.
The northern part of Finland is one of the best places in the world to witness the Northern Lights. From early autumn until late spring you will have an amazing opportunity to see the Aurora from Kemi’s new Seaside Glass Villas. Situated in the SnowCastle area, these one-bedroom villas have a small kitchen and bathroom and are an excellent choice for guests seeking extraordinary accommodation any time of the year.
If your are looking to spend the night in an even more special way, then the SnowHotel offers the Olokolo Nest. Fully heated, the Olokolo Nest is small glass dome that gives the impression of sleeping outside in the Arctic wilderness. You can even cross the frozen sea to the Arctic Adventure Island and spend the night in the Olokolo Nest there.
The extraordinary SnowCastle
Enjoy an adventure in Kemi’s SnowCastle, a stunning construction of ice and snow. The enormous SnowCastle is an entirely unique venue offering various activities during winter, including snow and ice slides for children. The 22nd SnowCastle will welcome travellers from all over the world from 21 January – 9 April 2017.
An all-year SnowCastle will open in Kemi in 2018 when ice and snow carving will be available in the summer months, as well as meals served at ice tables. It promises to be the perfect way to enjoy the magical white nights. Inside the SnowCastle, the world’s largest SnowRestaurant seats over 200 guests while the SnowChapel with its mystical ambience provides a memorable venue for weddings.
Good living – the Finnish way
Enjoying a sauna is a traditional part of Finnish culture and a great way to relax and invigorate the body. A sauna is a popular way of socialising and the perfect end to a frosty day – cool off by rolling in the snow or take a dip in an ice-hole. There are more than three million saunas in a country of more than five million people, so it never gets crowded!
In Kemi, people celebrate the benefits of nature with fresh, local and healthy food. The forests provide many staples of Finnish cuisine, with berries, mushrooms, and a host of ingredients all growing wild. The sea and rivers offer fish all year round, and ice fishing is a traditional hobby for locals. Visitors to Kemi will learn a great deal about Finnish culture and are welcome to explore one of Europe’s last great wilderness regions. Finland is one of the safest places in the world so a stress free visit is guaranteed. Kemi looks forward to having you, it’s a place quite unlike any other.