Santa Claus crisis ... there's no snow in Lapland
The home of Santa Claus is without snow around a month before Christmas, leaving holidaymakers anxious and prompting travel operators to postpone trips.
Families hoping for a picture-perfect visit to Lapland were left wondering if their holidays would be spoiled as webcam images from the region showed barely any patches of white around a week before the winter season begins.
Lapland, in northern Finland, is renowned as a winter wonderland complete with reindeer, sleighs and glittering Christmas markets blanketed in snow.
Laura Hardy, 33, said she had spent more than £2,000 for an overnight “sleigh bell sleepover” with her wife and two children in the capital Rovaniemi.
The nurse, from Stoke-on-Trent, who is due to fly out on December 3, told the Press Association: “It’s stressing us out a little as we have paid so much money for one night away which could have got us two weeks in the sun next year.
“With my daughter being nearly eight it’s possibly her last year of ‘believing’ and our son has had his adoption with us finalised this year so it was meant to be special.
“Thomas Cook have said they will not postpone trips or provide any money off as other activities will be arranged.
“Someone has suggested biscuit decorating, which I don’t think is a fair swap for snowmobile and sleigh rides. We have spent hundreds on snow clothing too.”
There is little chance for snow in Rovaniemi in the next 10 days except perhaps on Sunday, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, although temperatures will be below freezing.
Operator Transun, which takes travellers around 250km north of the capital to a more remote area, said: “It has been unseasonably warm in Lapland recently and there has been limited snowfall.
“We have therefore cancelled our first two departures of the winter and offered affected passengers alternative dates later in December at no additional cost.
“If the alternative dates were not suitable, we have offered a full refund.”
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “Our trips to Lapland start later this month. We’re continuing to watch the forecast and are working on contingency plans should they be required. We will update customers on any changes if necessary.”