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Kemi (Finland)

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Explore the famous SnowCastle

Kemi is a town in Finnish Lapland located on the Bothnian Bay with a population of just over 20,000. It is most well known as the home of the world’s largest snow castle, rebuilt by ice and snow artists each winter.

The SnowCastle is a source of great pride for the people of Kemi and is an opportunity for local builders to showcase their work. Constructed annually since 1996, the SnowCastle is the largest snow fort in the world. Since the design is different each year, the SnowCastle is never the same size, but typically ranges from 13,000 to 20,000 square metres.

Visitors can tour the Snowcastle, dine in the SnowRestaurant, where the tables and seats are constructed from ice; marry in the SnowChapel; or spend the night in the SnowHotel, where each suite is decorated by local artists. The SnowCastle also hosts an adventure land for children, a theatre, as well as ice art exhibitions.

Another popular attraction in Kemi is the Sampo Icebreaker, which calls the town’s naturally deep harbour ‘home.’ Sampo was built in Helsinki in 1960 to operate in the most extreme arctic conditions to keep shipping lanes clear of ice, which it did with aplomb for nearly 30 years before being purchased by the town of Kemi in 1987 to be used as a tourist attraction.

Visitors  can board Sampo for cruises through icy waters during the winter and tour the 75-metre-long ship. A highlight of the cruise is the chance to dress in rescue suits designed for the frigid arctic waters and climb down from the ship to float among the broken ice.

Other popular activities in the Kemi area include snowmobile tours and husky safaris. Day tours from Kemi to Rovaniemi are also possible.

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