Santa declares Christmas season ‘open’ in Arctic Finland

Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle in Finland, sees a big influx of Christmas-themed tourism.

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On Sunday, the Arctic Christmas tourism season in Finland was formally opened, with a speech by Santa Claus, calling for peace and understanding.

“Just like the strong Arctic winds, unkind words can make anyone shiver,” he said. “My wish is that this Christmas season be filled with friendly thoughts, words and gestures. Let us embrace Christmas with tolerance and goodwill.”

[A giant Christmas theme park in northern Finland aims to attract 10 million visitors to the Arctic annually]

Christmas tourism in Finland is centered around Rovaniemi, located on the Arctic Circle in northern Finland, and has seen big growth in recent years.

Some 90,000 tourists each year currently visit a Santa Claus-themed village dating from 1985 just a few kilometers north of Rovaniemi. But plans are underway for a far larger “Republic of Santa Claus” theme park further north of the city that aims to draw as many as 10 million visitors to the Arctic.