For many, Lapland is synonymous with snow. In Rovaniemi, there’s white stuff on the ground for approximately six months of the year.
From November until April
There is annual fluctuation in amounts of snow and in the time it stays on the ground in Rovaniemi. First snow usually falls during October, sometimes as soon as late September. A permanent snow cover is expected in late November, and April is still considered a snowy month – there’s often a bit of it left even in early May.
As soon as the snow falls
Locals and visitors alike are keen to make the most out of the snow as soon as it covers the ground. When permanent snow arrives in late November or December, and there’s enough of it for winter activities, Rovaniemi becomes a vast white playground.
Snow and ice: building materials
Thanks to the abundance of snow in Finland, Finns are experts in building with snow. In Rovaniemi, you can sleep in a snow hotel or an igloo, get married in a snow chapel, build an igloo under expert guidance (and sleep in it!), dine in a snow restaurant, have a drink in an ice bar, and play in snow castles with slides and such. For more on snow constructions in Rovaniemi, please see here.
When waters freeze
In Rovaniemi, you can walk on water – frozen bodies of water, that is. Waters are generally frozen from December until March, and provide huge extra space for activities like cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling. However, there’s no sure way of telling when the ice is thick enough to carry people, and visitors should take extra care and check with local experts before endeavouring out on the ice.
Snowy forest magic
A walk in fairytale-like white crystal forests, surrounded by snowy trees is like stepping into another world. In Rovaniemi, there are many forested areas just outside the town centre – for example Ounasvaara outdoor area – with crisscrossing paths ideal for shorter outings. Taking a guided snowshoe tour is a great way of enjoying the magic of the snow-covered woods.
Snow creates calmness
Snow has an unmatched quality of creating a peaceful atmosphere. Even in Rovaniemi town centre, when covered in snow, the general mood is rather calm. Walking in and around the city in crisp winter weather is recommended, as is stopping for a hot drink in between.
Try an icy dip
Feel like conquering yourself and doing something really Finnish? Winter swimming is the way to go! It may sound frightening, but the feeling afterwards is pure exhilaration – you’ve never felt more alive. Local winter swimmers have a spot on Ounaskoski beach, but for first-timers, guided sessions including sauna are safer starting points.
So many kinds, so many words
The quality of snow varies with the weather, and in Rovaniemi you get everything from the fresh and soft powder of midwinter to wet, sleet-like spring snow – and the whole scale in between. There are dozens of different types of snow, and there’s a word for each one (and related phenomena) in the Finnish language, meaning “hanki”, “pyry“, “loska”, “puuteri”, “räntä”, “hile”, “viti” and “tuisku” are just the tip of the iceberg!