WITH the (fake) fireplace emitting an orange glow, we are hit with instant warmth as we open the doors to our cozy cabin.
The temperature is a stark contrast to what lies behind the wooden walls of our new home for the weekend.
It’s minus 25 degrees Celsius and the surrounding houses are all smothered in snow.
But drenched in fairy lights, too, they make for a picture-perfect winter wonderland, if I’ve ever seen one.
This was my first visit to Lapland – in search of the magical Northern Lights.
The trip was my birthday celebration and Northern Lights Village in Saariselkä, Northern Finland was a great choice.
Our three-day Aurora Romantic Adventure (kids weren’t invited!) meant we’d spend long evenings in a glass-roofed cabin.
While it’s not cheap, it wouldn’t break the bank for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It felt almost cruel going to a Christmas hotspot like this without the kids, especially in December.
But our decision to leave them at home turned out to be a good choice.
Breathtaking act of nature
We knew it was going to be cold, but nothing prepares you for the freezing Finnish temperatures at this time of year.
We had brought ski wear and lots of layers but were relieved that the resort also provided all clothing related items at no extra cost – as we really needed it.
In our cabin, underfloor heating kept us warm, while the incredible glass roof just above our bed allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the stunning landscape of tall, frosted trees and dark night skies.
There are numerous opportunities for travelers to hunt the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights, but there is no guarantee that you will see them, regardless of your destination.
With that in mind, we wanted a place with other activities that really gets us in the mood for Christmas.
On the first day we went on a husky safari, stowed in a sled and driven through the snowy forest, pulled by powerful dogs.
Then it was on to the Reindeer Express, aboard another cozy sleigh.
This was a quieter affair and felt like something out of a Christmas movie – although sadly the reindeer’s hooves didn’t take off in the sky.
There was ample opportunity for romance on the trip, including a visit to a sauna topped off with a massage and another private heated sled ride through the frosty white landscape.
Trust me, it’s impossible to get bored gliding through the snow with magical views at every turn.
When it comes to food, there are plenty of traditional fare and comfort fare, with the on-site restaurant serving everything from burgers to sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pickles.
But like many other guests, we were really only here for one reason.
And nothing could top our excitement for a possible glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights.
They are best visible on a clear night. And with the temperatures still dropping and the sky full of stars, we set off on a snowmobile in search of the “light fantastic”.
Driving through the dark landscape has to be one of the funnest experiences I’ve ever had, despite the bitterly cold air nipping at our skin.
After a few hours of searching, we hadn’t found anything, so we stopped at a cabin while our guide lit a fire to warm up some traditional blueberry juice.
Still, the vast, empty expanse filled only with snow-capped trees and stars was an incredible sight.
On the way back to the village we tried not to feel too down.
Then our guide suddenly stopped us and excitedly pointed to the sky.
All we could see was a few wisps of cloud.
“Just wait,” she said.
Within moments, those clouds turned into colorful patterns—and there they were.
The green, shifting, dancing lights we so desperately wanted to see had lit up the whole sky.
We didn’t know what to do first – take photos (not easy when your hands are like blocks of ice) or just stand and stare in awe.
We did the latter and watched the lights move across the sky like a magical flock of birds.
Back in our huts, still excited by this breathtaking natural spectacle, we snuggled under the covers.
As we admired the wintry scene outside through our glass ceiling, my husband and I wondered if people actually ever saw their cabin lights as featured on the resort’s website.
Then, as if by magic, they were before our eyes again.
Excited but slightly exhausted, we gazed at the spectacular scenery from the comfort of our beds and watched the lights swirl overhead.
I don’t think there will ever be a better picture to fall asleep to.
Go: Lapland without children
STAYING THERE: Three nights full board accommodation in a glass roof cabin at The Northern Lights Village in Saariselka costs from £1,153 per trip on the Reindeer Express.
GETTING THERE: Finnair flies from Heathrow to Ivalo from £139 each way, stopping in Helsinki.
https://www.the-sun.com/travel/6981913/lapland-adults-only-trip-better-without-kids-finland/ I went to Lapland on an adults-only trip – here’s why it’s better without the kids