The INSIDER Summary:
• In Rovaniemi, Finland, Santa has a “real office.”
• The town created a replica of Santa’s office with toys and reindeer.
• Every year, thousands of visitors flock to see Santa.
• You can even write letters to Santa that get delivered to the office.
• Reuters photographer Pawel Kopczynski got an inside look at the magical village.
Ever wonder what Santa Claus does all year once he’s done with his world tour on Christmas Eve?
Just like any other hardworking grownup, he’s got to get back to the office.
The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland, is home to Santa’s year-round office and village, where a multilingual actor playing Santa carries out the important day-to-day business of meeting thousands of adoring fans — and spreading general Christmas cheer.
Photographer Pawel Kopczynski recently paid a visit to the glittering, snow-covered Santa Claus Village. Here’s a look at what goes down at the jolliest place on the planet during the busiest season of the year.
The Finnish city of Rovaniemi was nearly destroyed during World War II, according to the city’s official tourism site. But in 1950, then first-lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a visit to Rovanemi to check up on its rebuilding efforts. In advance of her trip, officials built a cabin a few miles north of the city, right on the arctic circle. This cabin is still standing in Santa Claus Village today.
The big man himself came into the picture a few decades later: Legend says that Santa’s original home is in a secret, remote location in Finland, known to only a chosen few people. So, in 1985, “Santa” —
with help from local officials — decided to open up a public office, right at the cabin in Rovaniemi. There, he’d get to greet children all year round — and attract lots of tourism to the area, too.
Soon, the village was open for business, and in 2010, it was finally dubbed the official hometown of Santa Claus.
The main attraction, of course, is seeing Santa — about 300,000 visitors flock to the site every year. And kids who make the trek can go home with proof of their magical encounter: The village sells a certificate proving that they have indeed met the real Santa.
Plus, for an additional $8, they can also guarantee their place on the Nice List by purchasing Santa’s Certificate of Niceness. Sounds like a steal.
But for those who can’t make the trek to Finland, there’s always letter writing. Every year, more than half a million children write letters to Santa’s official post office, where elves sort all the arrivals by country of origin. The village has gotten mail from 198 different countries to date.
You can also send letters home to loved ones: It’s a real, functioning post office with a special arctic circle postmark.
There’s even some entertainment for adult visitors: The Snowman World Ice Bar and Restaurant is right on the premises. Just about everything here is made from ice — even the drinking glasses.
Hardcore snow bunnies can also book a room at the on-site igloo hotel.
Reindeer sleigh rides and reindeer farm tours are another a popular attraction at the village. But visitors are notified up front that flying reindeer are reserved for Santa’s use only. That’s because they “require expert driving skills that take centuries to master,” according Rovaniemi’s official tourism site. Best to leave it to the man in red.
Want to pay a visit to Santa at his official hometown? Read all about Santa Claus Village right here.
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