Kemi SnowCastle & SnowHotel in Lapland
Kemi SnowCastle is the oldest snow castle in Lapland that opened its doors for the 1st time in 1996. Back then, the small city of Kemi was about to develop tourism in the region. Someone came up with a “crazy idea” of building a castle out snow and ice. Despite the initial resistance, the project saw green light, and now all visitors of Kemi can enjoy these beautiful snow creations.
The SnowCastle is usually built in the course of the winter, and is open from Mid-January until Mid-April. In 2020, the opening dates are 18.1.2020 – 15.4.2020. The Snowcastle features a SnowHotel, a restaurant out of ice, as well as beautiful ice & snow sculptures.
In addition to the big SnowCastle in the outdoors, the area features a smaller SnowCastle inside a cold space that you can visit any day of the year, even in summer.
The SnowCastle is situated on the shore of beautiful Bothnia bay which is frozen in winter. In addition to the rooms in the snow suites, the area has cosy and warm Panorama Glass Houses, each one with an amazing view over the bay.
The main building of the SnowCastle is nowadays huge, and features the cashier’s desk, a restaurant Lumihiutale, a cafe downstairs, inside Snowcastle (called “Experience 365”), as well as offices for local safari companies and several shops.
The day ticket to the SnowCastle in 2020 costs 29€ for adults and 17,50€ for kids aged 4–11. After the tickets are obtained in the main building, you can proceed to the SnowCastle. Once inside, you are greeted with an ice bar where you can order some drinks. They also offer guided tours over the area but you can just browse on your own. You can also ask questions about the SnowCastle from Mrs Päivi at the ice bar, as she has a wealth of information about the subject!
On the right from the ice bar is located the SnowHotel with 5 exquisitely decorated Snow Suites. According to Päivi, the scale of the SnowCastle is just a touch smaller than usual, as the weather was particularly warm in 2019-2020 winter season. With that weather, it proved to be difficult to make vast quantities of snow required for the construction of the SnowCastle.
The SnowHotel inside the SnowCastle is fully functional, and one can actually spend the night in here! The way it happens is that you are given a nice and warm winter sleeping bag. Right nearby the hotel there is a heated space with dressing rooms and bathroom where one can change before going to sleep. Having some woollen shirts and long-johns is still a very good idea, in addition of having the sleeping bag. The SnowCastle is open until 18PM for all visitors, and guests can go to their rooms shortly after.
Each SnowSuite has its own particular design with marvelous snow sculptures on the walls. The temperature inside the hotel is just below freezing point. The snow is an excellent insulator, and it keeps the cold weather outside of the hotel.
In 2017, I did spend a night in this hotel. It was otherwise warm enough, however, my face froze and felt a little uncomfortable. So, from that experience, I can also recommend wearing a balaclava that would cover your face too.
The SnowHotel also offers a little but cosy IceChapel which is a place for ceremonies, especially weddings. Opposite the Chapel there is a children’s room that features a futuristic sculpture of “flying motorcycle 🙂
Next, you can proceed to the IceRestaurant, which has a set of tables made of ice, as well as thought-provoking snow sculptures 🙂
One can also have dinner in this restaurant by reservation. I did not have dinner on this particular visit, but I enjoyed one on my last visit in 2017, and it was very delicious!
There is a lot of other details to enjoy in the SnowCastle, however, now we will visit the other SnowCastle that is situated inside the reception building.
This Snowcastle was built in order to give the visitors of all seasons the experience of ice and snow, even in the middle of hot summer! that is why it’s called “Experience365. This snowcastle is rather compact, as it is situated inside the refrigerated space. It’s open every day until 21PM.
The inside SnowCastle is exquisitely built, and winter, you can actually visit both snowcastles. Experience365 features a large IceRestaurant and bar that also can be used by visitors. In addition, there is a huge snowslide which is also beautifully made!
Experience365 SnowCastle also has many nice ice sculptures, and those have already changed a couple of times in between my two visits.
I can warmly recommend seeing the SnowCastle, especially if you are driving north to Lapland with E75 motorway. One of Kemi’s big attractions is also a cruise on Sampo IceBreaker, which is one of those unique and “must-do”- things, however, this is a topic for another story!
when to visit?
The Outside SnowCastle is open from Mid-January to Mid-April.
The Inside SnowCastle (Experience 365) operates all-year-round, even in summer.
Adults 29€, children 17,50€ (age 4–11).
You can also spend a night at the SnowHotel!
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