Full disclosure! Tracy-Ann Oberman is a Moominmamma and she loves Finland

Last updated 15th December 2023

Actor and playwright, Tracy-Ann Oberman, takes us on a journey to Finnish Lapland that’s as close to a fairy tale as it gets. Snuggle up and have a read.


Tracy-Ann Oberman and husband, snowmobiling, Finnish Lapland

Moominmamma makes it from the Riviera to Finnish Lapland

A few years back I played Moominmamma in a gorgeous feature film called Moomins on The Riviera. Having steeped myself in all things Moomin and Tove Jansson, I was s;dp very lucky to be taken to Helsinki and Malmo (spiritual home of the Moomins) on a family holiday, with my, then 10-year-old daughter, and my husband.

To this day my girl says it’s the best holiday she’s ever been on. We fell in love with Finland, Finnish people and their culture. So, when I was asked if I wanted to go back, only this time to Finnish Lapland, I jumped at the chance.

A Santa-free trip with a nightly light show

When I think of Finnish Lapland, one-word springs to mind: Santa. And the trip we went on could have involved Santa and it would have been blooming marvellous. But this was a Santa free trip, we took it in the first few days of April, just as the season was closing, in the hope of catching the Northern Lights.

So not a Christmas star in sight and barely any people. But lots of snow, bright sunshine and star filled night skies to dream of.

Did we see the Aurora Borealis? Carry on dear reader.


Apukka Resort, Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland

The Appuka Resort is heaven in Rovaniemi

The Apukka Resort in Rovaniemi, early April is heaven. I mean actual heaven if heaven is a Narnia-esque landscape, dotted with little glass igloos, all bright snow and sunshine; a few reindeer and some ponies grazing on budding shoots, and an eye-wateringly beautiful frozen lake that expands over the horizon and seems to go on forever surrounded by woods.

The gasp of beauty is then matched by the little sledge ride through the snowy grounds to a two-story modern glass igloo with a very cool kitchenette -lounge, and circular stairs to a bedroom made up only of a large double bed, filling the room, with a panoramic sky-roof that lets you see the full sky, sunset, and stars.

Tucked under a fake fur rug, that evening looking at the night sky was quite the romance. Life had been hectic workwise for both me and my husband, here we inhaled, exhaled, and relaxed.


Igloo bedroom, Apukka Resort

When in Finnish Lapland brave the Finnish Sauna

Our activities were wonderful. Bear in mind we had been to the Ice Hotel, so we thought we knew what to expect, but this was completely different – more rustic and authentic.

Our first morning we woke up to a Finnish Sauna, a log cabin built on the lake, filled with a wooden stove and high temperatures. Then, when we felt the dry heat becoming too much, we popped into a hole carved in the beautiful lake to immerse in the freezing water.

I couldn’t believe how addicted I got to the sensation of boiling dry heat and then freezing ice water in the sunshine, it was the most exhilarating thing I have ever done. Wim Hoff is right, it’s life enhancing. And for a woman who can’t shower unless it’s scalding, I surprised myself and my husband by managing two minutes at a time, and even opted for a second booking on the last day of our holiday.


Tracy-Ann Oberman, actor and musher

Everyone gets to mush at the Appuka Resort

The Husky ride that night was not us being driven through the woods by a rider as we had done in Sweden, but rather we were shown how to ride the sledges ourselves – it was amazing!

We were introduced to our huskies, then shown how to control the sledge. My husband drove the first hour as the night got darker and darker while, I reclined on the sledge taking in the stars, the huskies pulling ahead and the silence.

I was sceptical that I could ride us back, but I did. Taking corners like a pro, checking the back huskies didn’t pull ahead too much to upset the line, it was truly amazing. Mid-excursion we stopped in a clearing in the woods to sip Lingonberry tea – a Finnish Lapland staple – from steaming flasks and pet the huskies. Lucy in Narnia doesn’t even come close!

The family who run the huskies and the activity are lovely people and are happy to let you play with the husky puppies at the end of the trip, and give treats to the parents who pulled the sleigh.


Fairy tale Finnish Lapland

Frozen lakes and woods in April, only in Finland

Next day, we went snowmobiling across the frozen lake and into the woods. As it was end of season it was only us along with another couple, and driving across the frozen lake, passing little clusters of houses and the occasional ice fisherman, we got a sense of the lake’s vastness: magical  Our charismatic guide told us that in the summer the Apukka resort and lake is also a haven for visitors drawn by water sports and swimming, horse riding and cycling. He also said there’s always one driver who manages to topple the bike, and yup, we were THAT couple! Both of us managed to capsize our snowmobile when my husband took a corner too sharply, we both fell off and the mobile landed on top of us.

But, as we all plunged into the soft powdery snow it was comical rather than an episode of Casualty. We also got to race the snowmobiles at high speeds at the end of the excursion as no one else was on the lake. Very exciting. Tom Cruise watch out.

Of course Apukka Resort has a snow train

For our last evening we had booked the night train, a little train ride with heated individual carriages attached to each other, making our way to one of the pre-erected yurts, where a fire was lit, and we all toasted hot dogs and marshmallows and drank tea, whilst we waited for the aurora to appear. Hubby and I did a moonlight walk which was magical.

Did we see the Northern Lights? Yes, every single night. And they were amazing.


Northern Lights, Apukka Resort, Finnish Lapland

Northern Lights, no Aurora Alarm necessary

Apukka Resort gives you an app that sets off an alarm when the lights appear, but we didn’t need it. We were lucky to see them on every outing: magnificent, magical and other worldly. But having had a drink the hotel bar after the train ride, we stepped out to walk back to our room and there they were in even fuller glory for a whole hour. Brighter, more vivid and dancing in a way I would never have imagined. It was a real bucket list moment. Life lesson: sometimes you don’t need to chase the lights, they will find you.

Apukka Resort make all the excursions easy, by providing you with gear and boots. Although my mate Charlie had lent me her moonboots and fur lined gloves, for which I’ll be forever grateful.

In between the activities we took long walks on the lake. Mr O had under-packed and now wonders if he’s the only person in the world who has waded through knee-deep snow drifts, and across an ice lake dressed in Prada trainers, jeans.


Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland

Some fabulous feasting in Finnish Lapland

Finally, special props for the food and staff.  Restaurant Kota, with its wood fire pizzas, had shut for the season but the à la carte menu at Restaurant Aitta was spectacular.

Our favourites were Roasted Beetroot Carpaccio and the Smoked Pike Skagen for starters; traditional sauteed moose with lingonberry jam and pickled cucumbers; Buckwheat with carrots, and the Attia chicken burger for mains, not to mention the best Crème Brûlée we’ve ever tasted.

Buffets for breakfast and lunch in the fireside warmth of the 100-year-old timber log wall restaurant, also fantastic. And with a great children’s menu, plus vegetarian options, there really is something for everyone.

How to plan a trip to Finnish Lapland

How to get there

Direct UK flights to Rovaniemi with Finnair take from 3 hours, 20 minutes

Where to stay

Apukka Resort, Rovaniemi from £543 per night (2 adults, 2 children)

See more and book Apukka Resort 

Good to know

Go to Visit Finland to find out more about Finnish Lapland

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn commission when you click on them. This does not influence our editorial standards. We only recommend products and services we believe will enhance your family travel experience.