Santa Claus is an important figure in the Christmas traditions of many different cultures: aside from the Western world, he is also present in Latin America, Japan and parts of eastern Asia.
In the lead-up to Christmas, the atmosphere of these places transforms, as the streets of cities and tiny villages are adorned with glowing lights and beautiful decorations.
As the Christmas spirit comes alive, one question remains on the lips of everyone, year after year. Perhaps some of you are even asking it at this very moment:
“Where does Santa live?”
The answer is a tricky one, and tends to change depending on the culture in which the question is raised. There are many homes, official and not, spread across the globe, which have been attributed to Father Christmas.
It’s a child’s dream to meet Santa Claus in any country they can.
Let’s see where some of his houses can be found...
Santa Claus Village: Rovaniemi, Finland
Situated in the heart of Lapland, in northern Finland, Rovaniemi is the only placed in the world where it’s Christmas all year round. In this wonderland, you breathe in that special festive air, which warms the hearts of young and old.
Lapland is the magical land of the elderly, paunchy, bearded man who distributes gifts. The more adventurous of you will need to cross the Arctic Circle (known as “Napapiiri” in Finnish), and between the woodlands of Rovaniemi, dreams become a reality. Here, you can meet Santa every day of the year, as Rovaniemi is home to his headquarters.
Santaworld (Tomteland): Mora, Sweden
Father Christmas doesn’t live in just one country though, and Sweden competes with Finland for the title of home of the man dressed in red. In Mora, 300 kilometres from Stockholm, stands Santa Claus’ second headquarters. Here, too, lies magic: Santaworld is a park dedicated to the old man with the long beard who makes children’s dreams come true.
A 15-minute drive from Mora, Santaworld is a beautiful fairytale realm, and is much less touristy than Rovaniemi, as well as much smaller and less visited. Aside from Santa Claus, you’ll find small elves (his assistants), trolls, the king and queen of winter, the princess, the witch, the snowman, the snow monster and other woodland creatures. Children can take Santa classes, make cinnamon and ginger biscuits (known as “pepparkakor” in Finnish), explore the surrounding forest, pat reindeer and take a tour on Santa Claus’ sleigh.
Santa Claus Village: Chianciano Terme, Italy
Chianciano Terme transforms into a spectacular Christmas wonderland, with the famous Santa awaiting children in his mystical world, at Parco Acquasanta. Chianciano Terme houses Santa Claus Village, boasting Christmas scenery and evocative shows.
The highlight is the elves’ workshop. You can also explore letters, books, tables and much more in Santa’s house. We can guarantee that children won’t be the only ones having fun here.
At the park’s entrance, tourists can admire the splendid station of the Polar Express, in an Arctic-like setting, and can take the train to the location of the main event. Various features (including the Salone Ottagonale, Salone Nervi and Sala Fellini) add to the other-worldly atmosphere of Santa Claus Village, with the elves’ house, picturesque paths, areas dedicated to games and creative labs. A must-see is Santa Claus’ elegant and sumptuous bedroom, with the throne on which he greets children and puts huge grins on their faces.
According to legend, the top of Mount Amiata is where Santa lands with his reindeers when he arrives from Lapland to spend the Christmas holidays in his warm, cosy house in Chianciano.
They say that on that night, the stars are so bright and dazzling that the moon takes the opportunity to rest a little. The stars all come out for the arrival of the world’s favourite old man, accompanying him to his house with their magical light. Many of them settle among the silvery branches of the trees that make up Santa’s enchanted garden.
Santa Claus’ Cave: Orvanasso, Italy
Welcoming thousands of visitors a year, Santa Claus’ Cave is a truly unique place, which can’t be replicated anywhere in the world. It is, in fact, a real underground cave with a 200-metre-long stone tunnel and a large room made from pink marble, the same that has been used since the 1300s and for Milan’s Duomo.
During the festive season, the tunnel comes to life with lights, Christmas music and animations featuring “twergi” (gnomes from the forests of Ornavasso, in Piedmont). Arriving at the end of the tunnel, you’ll find a “real” Santa in the large room, set against the backdrop of huge Christmas projections.
The park is a 20-square-mile area with a view of Lake Maggiore and Lake Mergozzo. During the Christmas holidays, it houses real reindeer that parade around with Santa Claus, along with camels, lamas, alpacas, snow owls and many other animals. Squirrel trails connect the park from the entry to Santa Claus’ Cave.
Following these paths, you will walk through beech woods, and you can visit underground tunnels decorated for the holiday season. Precious stones and talking trees complete the experience for children and families.
North Pole: Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
North Pole is a small town in the United States, situated 20 minutes from Fairbanks, in the state of Alaska. North Pole has a population of 2000 and is home to a community that survives exclusively on tourism. Though the town is a long way from the real North Pole, its residents have taken inspiration from its name to host many Christmas-themed attractions. Streets in North Pole include Santa Claus Lane, St Nicholas Drive, Snowman Lane and Kris Kringle Drive.
According to ancient tradition, Santa Claus’ house can be found in this village. In fact, the local post office receives around 500,000 letters a year from children across the globe.
The famous figure’s house, known as Santa Claus House, doubles as a gift shop featuring every item imaginable, from glass baubles and decorations to Christmas trees and souvenirs of every sort. And, naturally, Santa’s presence is guaranteed every day.