Terrible gag, I know. But there are 200,000 of them in the region, ­outnumbering people by 20,000 or so.

We didn’t spot a single wild one during a four-day trip with my son Jack, four, to Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland in Finland’s Arctic Circle.

We didn’t get much snow either. Not that it mattered. Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus and a visit in the height of summer would be just as magical as in the whitest of its long winters.

With easyJet flying there twice a week from as little as £32, this once-in-a-lifetime trip is now a very affordable short break for you and your little ones.

And if you weren’t already in the Christmas spirit, you will be as soon as you arrive.

At Finland’s third-biggest airport, a display of elves at work greet you on the baggage carousel.

From there on, it’s Christmas all the way.

There were wide eyes and gaping mouths all round . . . and the kids were impressed too.

The highlight of any visit is a trip to see the big man himself at Santa Claus Village.

I won’t deny it — I ran excitedly with my son to the doors of his home. And who wouldn’t?

After a chat and a snap with Santa, visit his official post office so the children can get their letters and cards postmarked at the Arctic Circle — and request their official letter from him.

The reindeer that were so shy in the wild abound here and will pull you around a snowy track in a sleigh.

Complete the magic at Santa’s Secret Forest a short drive away.

Elves will share their training to give you a masterclass in gingerbread decoration before leading you to the boss’s secret forest hut, where another magical ­surprise awaits.

Rovaniemi isn’t just about Santa. There is so much more to entertain the family.

The Arktikum museum and science centre offers a fascinating insight into the region’s history.

Ranua Wildlife Park, an hour’s drive away, is home to hundreds of Arctic animals, including two polar bears — well worth the trip on their own.

And no journey to the Arctic Circle would be complete without a visit to a husky farm.

Bearhill Husky Tours has 93 of the dogs, mostly Alaskan, with some pure-breed Siberians too.

Staff there will tell you the hardworking Alaskan breed is far ­superior to the Siberian.

But you can find out for yourself when a pack of them pull you on a sled.

For a souvenir, visit Irene and Ari Kangasniemi’s workshop to make crafted goodies from local materials including reindeer antlers and wood.

The couple will welcome you into their “simple” home — bigger and better equipped than mine — for a taste of how Laplanders live.

Sadly, the rocking chair Ari built from antlers wouldn’t fit in my case.

Amid the incredible sights and activities, a highlight for my son was visiting a play park with an Angry Birds theme. The addictive video game franchise was created and developed here in Finland.

That park was just a few minutes’ walk from where we were staying at Rovaniemi’s Hotel Santa Claus.

This was the perfect base for us but if you want to get a little closer to nature, check out the “igloos” in Santa’s Village and throughout Lapland.

These cabins have north-facing windows from floor to ceiling, with alarms to signal when the Northern Lights are doing their thing.

We weren’t fortunate enough to see them during our trip. But time it right and you just might.

Either way, you are in for an unforgettable trip. The kids will lap it up.

GO: Lapland

GETTING THERE: Flights with easyJet from Gatwick to Rovaniemi are from £32.76pp one way, including a full-size cabin bag.

See easyjet.com.

STAYING THERE: One night at Hotel Santa Claus is from £40pp based on two sharing. See santashotels.fi.

OUT & ABOUT: For Santa Claus Village see santaclausvillage.info. For more info on Rovaniemi see visitrovaniemi.fi.


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