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Finland: Helsinki, Family Vacation Fun - From Moomins to the Northern Lights. Family-friendly in surprising and unexpected ways, Finland is home to the endearing Moomins, numerous snow sports, spas and kid-friendly ships. Where else can on attend Elf School, feed a reindeer or make snow angels under the Northern lights? Families will find holidays full of European sophistication and fun.

"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen," is how one 12-year old described the display of Northern Lights last spring as she stood mesmerized in the middle of a frozen lake, 100 miles north of the Arctic circle in Finnish Lapland and watched multi-colored lights shimmer and reshape above her head. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a celestial light show put on by nature when charged particles from the sun collide with atmospheric gases. It is one of many stunning natural attractions in northern Finland where pristine scenery, winter sports (downhill and cross-country skiing, snow boarding), reindeer, dog sled and snowmobile safaris, hiking and ice fishing are all around family pleasers.

Rovaniemi (pronounced row van yeah me) is the capital of Finnish Lapland and a magnet for Santa lovers. It is home to Santa's Workshop, Santa's Village and Santa Park, where children can attend Elf School, bake gingerbread cookies, sleigh ride through the workshop and visit Finland's foremost citizen – Santa Claus www.santaclausoffice.fi. Nearby Arktikum, an Arctic science museum and the Ranua Zoo, where polar animals thrive, both stimulate and entertain. Annual Lapp festivals make for a great family day. Decked out in colorful costumes, multiple generations of indigenous Lapps, called Sami, come to Hetta each March to celebrate St. Mary's Day with reindeer races on the frozen lake, concerts, exhibitions and sporting contests.

Whatever your age Moomin Valley puts you in a good mood. It's the Finnish counterpart of Disneyland, with endearing characters created by Tove Jansson. Families can visit the Moomin home located in Naantali, on Finland's southwest coast. Afterwards they may head for the nearby Naantali Spa. This luxurious hotel is located right on the water, has six pools and baths and a host of relaxing treatments.

Helsinki, Finland's stylish capital, is awash in award-winning architecture, cafes, parks and attractions that offer visiting parents an opportunity to share with Finnish counterparts, the majority of whom speak English. Access to Helsinki's many hiking and biking trails is easy – on foot or using the city's systematic network of trams and trolleys.

Helsinki harbor tours and a visit to Suomenlinna Fortress involve exciting mini cruises through picturesque waters. One-of-a-kind experiences including hands-on laboratory experiments make the Heureka Science Center (a 15-minute train ride from Helsinki) one of the region's most popular attractions.

At Helsinki's Linnanmaki Amusement Park, North American visitors will find lots of rides as well as a new aquarium Sea Life Helsinki. It opened last June with a walkthrough underwater tunnel and a host of educational and interactive features. Tram or trolley connections to these and other many other sites are free to those who purchase the Helsinki Card. The discount card also provides reduced or free entrance to attractions such as the Helsinki Zoo and to nearly 50 museums in Helsinki including The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the School Museum dating from the 1830s where kids may find a new appreciation for modern classrooms.

A  Family Vacation Resource: The Family Finland website may also be viewed in Swedish, Norwegian, Estonian and Russian: www.finland-family.com. For the sound of a voice USA: 1- 212-885 9700, Germany: +49- (0) 69-5007 0157 and United Kingdom:  +44- (0) 20-7365 2512. Bonus points: Finland is a country where spas and families make a good combination.

Details

Rovaniemi (pronounced row van yeah me): The capital of Finnish Lapland offers plenty of use links. www.rovaniemi.fi

Santa's Workshop, Santa's Village and Santa Park: This is the place where children may attend Elf School.  www.santapark.com

Moominvalley: Families are welcome everywhere in Finland including at spa time. Get the details at www.muumimaailma.fi

Content syndication services provided by Travel Communications, Inc. Updated by FamilyTravelFiles.com from master database entries. Images provided by Tourist Board of Finland. Copyright 2012.
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