Rovaniemi sees tourist surge during winter-opening
27 Oct 2017, 14:55 ( 27 Oct, 2017) | updated: 27 Oct 2017, 15:21 ( 27 Oct, 2017)
Although Rovaniemi, a city most appreciated for its Arctic charms and Santa’s magic, has already experienced the season’s first snowfall on late Thursday night, the winter has not begun yet officially.
As tradition dictates, the winter will begin its formal launch through a rather kaleidoscopic ceremony slated for October 28 in the city’s Lordi’s Square from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.
Based on signs and trends, the event organising trio – Ounasvaara Ski Resort, Intersport Rovaniemi, and Santasport – are sure that the winter-opening celebrations this year will see about a 20 per cent rise in tourists taking part this year than in any of the previous ones.
The ceremony offers a playground made of real snow to the children, a snowboard test area for the youth, and a freeski and snowboarding ‘Rail Jam Show’ by top Finnish skiers and boarders for all to enjoy.
“The winter-opening is a weekend, when we rejoice the arrival of the long Arctic icy season bringing in her majestic beauty of ice-covered topography, the high-contrast fun of winter sports, and countless other outdoor activities. The traditional reception accords the Lapland’s most beloved season a fanfare of heart-felt jubilation,” said Visit Rovaniemi Managing Director Sanna Kärkkäinen to the Daily Finland.
She said it is going to be a whole-family event and the programme includes snow fun activities from snowboarding to freeski rail jam to simply rolling around in the snow – a most delightful activity to children in every country where it snows.
“One spectacular programme. May be this event will challenge the others. The jubilant ushering in of winter is the Arctic Weekend etched out by the filmmaker Antti Autti. And it will be the first such special winter event in Rovaniemi,” said the Visit Rovaniemi MD.
The Arctic Weekend will kick off at 8.00 pm on Friday with a 2-hour Kama workshop and quiz with Arto Majava, Antti Autti, Mikko Koutaniemi taking part, followed by a 5-hour movie show till 2.00 am on Saturday featuring a disconnect premiere of Snackbreak, a mini premiere of Keeshlife, and the movie Trainspotters.
However, Saturday is the main day of the Arctic Weekend featuring a rail challenge dubbed ‘Winter Comes to the City and a lecture by Anders Bergwall and his wife Merjan about mountains and snow safety, crowned by the projection of five oven-fresh videos made by Autti on the North. They are Vimana Two, the short films Shapes Freeski and Sue Åtta Nie freeski, and the short documentary All Snugs, all ending in a grand slam from 8.30 pm to 10.00 pm by a world premiere of the Arctic Lights, a documentary on snowboarding made by Autti.
According to Kärkkäinen, this year the growth during the whole winter season is estimated at 15 to 20 per cent, as indicated by increased flight seats and new accommodation facilities being booked in Rovaniemi and its suburbs. “The season looks record-breaking good,” declared the lady who has been steering the wide-spectrum of marketing Rovaniemi as a tourist destination without any parallel.
She said, “We are focusing on social media marketing and B2B activities, like participating in the ITB Asia in Singapore next week, to promote Rovaniemi as a full-year travel destination for Asian agents. There will be about 40 sellers from Finland and around 20 from Lapland.”
The home town of Santa Clause has in recent years witnessed its winter tourism to mushroom and thrive. According to Statistics Finland, in the last winter, the number of overnight stays by tourists in the city’s accommodation facilities was 42,702 in November, 96,495 in December, 57,171 in January, 64,894 in February, and 61,404 in March. We will see what numbers we get for these months when winter melts into spring next year.