With all the mythology surrounding Christmas, I've partnered with Holiday Lettings and TripAdvisor to remind you this holiday season that Reindeer are real! Nothing says Christmas like the sound of jingling bells and swooshing sleighs. But where can you go to meet real-life Rudolphs? Holiday Lettings rounds up the best places to see reindeer, from Alaska to Rovaniemi.
The Reindeer Centre, Ashford, England
Meet and hand-feed the herd at the Reindeer Centre before the animals fly off to help Santa with his Christmas deliveries. While you’re there, you can visit Santa’s cosy log cabin and sit on the jingling sleigh that’s waiting for the big day.
To see some more animals, head to the local South of England Rare Breeds Centre where you can pet many traditional farm breeds. You could also step back in time at Ashford Borough Museum, where you can spot ancient graffiti and railway paraphernalia, including model trains and a ticket office. Walk round nearby eco-themed Stour Valley Arts and catch one of their cutting-edge installations in centuries-old Kings Wood.
Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Aviemore, Scotland
Here’s you’ll find Britain’s only herd of free-ranging reindeer, so it can be a bit tricky to find them. Follow a local herder up onto the mountainside and admire the stunning Cairngorm scenery. Then walk among and stroke the animals as the herder tells you more about them. You can make your own set of antlers at the centre or pet the elderly reindeer in the paddock.
Wrap up warm and hike round nearby Loch an Eilein for dramatic views of the mysterious Highland castle. You could also grab your skis and head into the mountains for fun on the slopes, warming up afterwards with a dram of local whisky at one of the area’s distilleries. Strathisla is the oldest in the north of Scotland and has been producing delicious whisky since 1786
Pyhäjärvi Reindeer Farm, Övertorneå, Sweden
Ever tried to lasso a reindeer? The herders at Pyhäjärvi Reindeer Farm can show you how. Meet the reindeer and go on a sleigh ride drawn by the magnificent Oscar II, Villi and Kulnasatj. While you’re there you can learn all about reindeer herding and branding. Find out about the quaint neighbouring village of Koriu and browse the selection of colourful local crafts.
While you’re in the area, you could take to the nearby immaculate slopes or try a spot of cross-country skiing on one of the excellent trails. You could head off on a husky safari - the dogs are really friendly and the wildlife on view above the Arctic Circle is fascinating. Relax later in a traditional sauna, smoke sauna or sauna raft along the Torne River.
Santa Claus Reindeer, Rovaniemi, Finland
Dash through a snowy pine forest on a traditional reindeer-drawn sleigh and soak up Lapland’s mysterious atmosphere. Stop and sit by a crackling open fire and grill delicious sausages, sip steaming Glögi (mulled wine) or sample spicy gingerbread. On a clear evening you might spot the Northern Lights and the twinkling stars above you.
Why not make the most of the wonderfully wild landscape and go snowmobiling or snowshoeing? You might almost believe that Santa exists if you visit the nearby Santa Claus Village, where you can meet the man himself and cross the magical Arctic Circle. You can also find out more about the indigenous Sámi culture and the history of Rovaniemi at the Arktikum
Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska, USA
You can find Santa’s reindeer team here even in the middle of August, with Christmas lights and decorations still sparkling around them. This is, after all, where Santa’s letters are postmarked and stamped with an official seal. It’s also home to the world’s largest Santa, a 42 ft-tall statue that greets you as you arrive.
Take in the unique atmosphere of a town where it really is Christmas 365 days a year, with candy canes painted on the streets and glittering decorations hanging year round. You can catch one of the town’s famous Christmas parades or the fireworks at the Winter Festival. Check out the ‘Christmas in Ice’ exhibition too: it features about 600 tons of sculpted North Pole ice.
So, with all of this evidence, there should be no doubt that reindeer are real, and with that, we now know where Santa drafts his team of sleigh-pullers each year!
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