As 2016 has arrived, it’s time to plan your travel itinerary for upcoming vacations to take in the new year. While traveling to Northern Europe sounds untypical and expensive, Nordic countries like Finland can be an exotic destination for your next vacation. Summer is short here, and the weather can get horrible if you come at the wrong time. Read on to figure out what’s the best time to visit one of the happiest countries in the world.
The snowy and magical winter (December - January)
Though winter months are the coldest time of the year as the temperature could reach as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) in the northernmost parts, many tourists come here for the Santa experience. There’s a small village near the city of Rovaniemi (the capital of Finnish Lapland) where you can meet and greet with Santa Claus, partake in a sleigh ride pulled by huskies or reindeers, and even see the Aurora/Northern Lights if you get lucky. During the coldest and busiest times in December, the whole village is decorated with Christmas trees, lightings, and shops full of traditional Lapland products. In January and February, you can come to ski at Levi - the largest ski resort in Finland. If you are willing to pay for an expensive accommodation, experience sleeping under a glass roof while being surrounded by ice in an Igloo.
Spring holiday on May Day (1st of May)
The beginning of May is a great period of time for young people to visit Finland. The most important event during this month is called Vappu, or May Day (national holiday), marking the beginning of the Finnish summer and the end of many long cold and dark winter months. On the 30th of April, thousands of people celebrate together by wearing their white graduation caps, gathering downtown (e.g. at Helsinki Senate Square in front of the white Helsinki Cathedral), and partying throughout the night. Streets, bars, and clubs in Finland are unusually crowded on this day. Thus, come early to avoid queuing in case you are ready to go clubbing. The next morning, local family and international friends gather at the biggest parks around their city (check out Kaivopuisto Park in Helsinki!) to have a glass of wine and continue to relax on this remarkable holiday together.
Midsummer holiday (mid or late June)
If you are into something more culturally significant, come to Finland on the 25th of June 2016. This is another national holiday in Finland when people celebrate Midsummer’s Eve by going to a private cottage, lighting a bonfire and serving barbecue, going to a sauna at a typical Finnish wooden house, or swimming at a lake nearby. These are the very typical activities that people would like to enjoy during the early summer, while enjoying the quiet of nature.
Exciting but short summer months
As Finland’s winter is long, the Finns enjoy and appreciate their warmest summer months between June and August. People often go out for a drink at outdoor terraces, swim down the lakes, and have picnics at a local park. The whole country changes with a much more lively atmosphere. Street artists play music under the sun all day long, and young people spend their time outside as long as the sun is shining. One of the best things during this time is that the sun never seems to go down. In Northern Finland, there are some occasions when the white nights occur, as the sun does not set, and you will have a chance to see the Midnight Sun.
When to avoid?
The period to avoid traveling in Finland is during the rainy season in late Autumn, and in March when the snow starts melting; it tends to get very windy. The weather is very unpredictable in Finland as there may be no snow during the winter and only a few sunny days in the summer that are warm enough to go to the beaches. Make sure you do not miss the summer in Finland because there will be many festivals going on, such as the Helsinki Flow Festival between the 12th and 14th of August 2016, and pop-up Restaurant Days taking place every 3 months.
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