Monarch launches Lapland holidays from Birmingham

The UK’s Monarch has announced plans to add Lapland holidays direct from Birmingham to its winter programme starting December 1, 2017 with three and four night breaks available to book now.

According to the plan, Monarch flights will depart Birmingham twice a week, on a Tuesday and Friday. Monarch also offers a selection of hotels, apartments and log cabins across Finnish Lapland. Three night breaks to Levi from Birmingham start from £749.00 per person. Flight only service will be available from May 4, 2017.

Gary Anslow, Sales Director at Monarch said: ‘We are really pleased to be extending our Lapland programme to Birmingham for this coming December. Our trade sales team will be out and about in the next few weeks’ visiting our agent partners to make sure they have everything they need to make the most of these new departures. Our Lapland holidays from Gatwick and Manchester are always sold out, so extending to Birmingham departures is great news for those wanting to fly from the Midlands’.

The Birmingham programme will include Monarch’s Ready Steady Snow holidays and Santa’s Tinsel Trail. The Ready Steady Snow itinerary operates from December 1 – 26 and includes snow suit and boots hire, reindeer sleigh, husky sled and snowmobile mini-ride, Arctic Circle ceremony, a trip to ‘Santa’s Post Office’ to see his elves at work, and a private meeting with Santa himself. The Santa Tinsel Trail holidays operate from December 15 – 26 and include the same activities as the Ready Steady Snow programme as well as a hunt for Santa on the tinsel trail, Arctic games and a Christmas feast on the last night.

Monarch’s three- nights Ready Steady Snow holidays to Yllas from Birmingham is priced at £749 per person, with accommodation at the three-star Lapland Hotel Yllaskaltio. The three- nights Ready Steady Snow holidays from Birmingham to Levi is also priced at £749 per person, with accommodation at four-star Levistar Apartments; and, the three-nights Ready Steady Snow holidays to Levi is priced at £869 per person, with accommodation at Levi Hotel Spa. The prices are based on a bed and breakfast basis for a family of four sharing.

Monarch will also be offering an expanded holiday programme from Manchester this winter with the full Santa and Arctic experience trips available to book for the first time in January and February. The announcements follow the successful launch of the Arctic experience programme from London Gatwick last winter, Monarch noted in a release.


Monarch offers half term holidays from UK airports

British low cost airline Monarch has announced the launch of half term holidays in February to popular winter sun destinations such as Lanzarote and Tenerife-Canary Islands, and Costa del Sol from Birmingham, Manchester and London Gatwick, at reduced fares.

For holidaymakers seeking snow, Monarch offers a traditional winter holiday to Lapland with its ‘Arctic Experience’ trips. Winter sun or Lapland holidays are offered at prices starting from £299.00 per person.

The holiday service to Lanzarote – Canary Islands will depart Birmingham on February 12, for a seven night stay at the four-star Occidental Lanzarote Playa. The offering starts from £479.00 per person, and includes return flights and seven nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a twin room.

The airline also offers a holiday service to Tenerife – Canary Islands from Manchester. The flight will depart on February 11, 2017 for a seven night stay at the five star Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife. With prices starting from £695.00 per person, the package includes return flights and seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a deluxe room.

From Birmingham, the holiday service to Tenerife – Canary Islands will depart on February 12, for a seven night stay at the five-star Gran Tacande Hotel. Priced from £935.00 per person, the package includes return flights and seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a twin room with a sea view.

Meanwhile, the holiday service to Costa del Sol, Spain will start from £299 per person. The flight will depart Birmingham on February 12, 2017 for a seven night stay at the four star Puente Real. The service includes return flights and seven nights half board accommodation based on two adults and one child sharing a one bedroom apartment.

The airline also offers its ‘Arctic Experience’ holidays to Lapland. The flight will depart London Gatwick on February 14, 2017 for a three night stay at the three star Lapland Hotel Akashotelli. Priced from £325.00 per person, the holiday package includes return flights and three nights bed and breakfast accommodation based on two adults and two children sharing a one bedroom apartment with a sauna.

Monarch’s All Flights Reduced sale has 100,000 seats. In addition to a selection of sun, city and ski destinations, the airline is also offering 60,000 seats for the Canaries, Madeira and Dalaman.

New Arctic adventures for visitors to Luleå in Swedish Lapland

This winter, it is even easier for tourists to experience the thrill of Swedish Lapland, as Visit Luleå has now launched fixed departure activity tours, which operate up to three times a week with a minimum of just two participants. All the activities, which include brand new hovercraft archipelago and Northern Lights tours, as well as snowmobiling and driving on ice, are within easy reach of the city, which makes Luleå the ideal destination for those who want a winter break without donning skis.

Luleå, set just south of the Arctic Circle in a stunning white winter desert, is a microcosm of everything that is great about Swedish Lapland but, instead of having to drive hours between each point of interest, everything is accessible within around 30 minutes. This means that visitors can spend all their time enjoying the new winter activities on offer on the ground, including:

·         NEWHovercraft archipelago tour – Brand new for 2011/2012, this spectacular hovercraft tour over pack-ice fields gives visitors a chance to explore the outer islands of the archipelago and even go for a walk on the towering ice on special trails – from 2,135 SEK (£203)

·         NEWNorthern Lights adventure – Donning snowshoes, adventurers can explore otherwise inaccessible terrain on this brand new, two-hour guided tour. Participants walk through the Brändö forests where Northern Lights can be spotted under the correct conditions, which scientists are claiming are better this year than for the last 50. During the tour, guests will find out more about life in the wilderness, and learn how to light a fire in the snow and prepare dinner under the open sky – from 975 SEK (£93)

·         Ice driving – Test your driving skills on ice! Take both cars and go-carts for a spin on six specially created tracks along the beautiful frozen Ebbenjarka lake – from 1,495 SEK per person (£142)

·         Dog sledding – Visit a husky farm and take off on a two hour dog sledding adventure through frozen lakes and forest. Alternatively, get involved and learn how to drive and command your own sled- from 1,335 SEK (£127)

·         Snowmobiling – A favourite winter pastime of the locals, enjoy an exhilarating snowmobile excursion through snow-covered forests and to superb viewing spots – from 1,215 SEK (£116)

·         Snowmobile pack ice tour – A snowmobile tour to the island of Brändöskär, a 17th century fishing village in the outermost archipelago, next to the Bothnian bay. Along the way the guide tells participants about life in the northern wilderness and gives them a chance to try ice-fishing. Lunch is cooked over an open fire in a large muurikka pan – from 2,150 SEK (£205)

·         Ice breaker – Jump aboard the ice-classified Arctic Explorer and head out into the frozen archipelago, breaking through the ice as you go.  And the particularly adventurous can don a survival suit and take a dip in the Arctic Ocean! Only available for ten people or more – from 1,235 SEK (£118)

All of these tours can be booked with transfers and are now available via

Why Swedish Lapland is not just for Christmas

After a December that was the coldest in Europe for 100 years – many of us dream of heading south to the warmth.

Some adventurous Britons, however, have moved in the opposite direction, setting up home in Swedish Lapland in a string of remote communities straddling the Arctic Circle.

The area (Lapland comprises the northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and part of Russia) is sometimes described as Europe’s last wilderness, and it is certainly cold; this winter, the first snow fell in the first week of October. Temperatures can plunge to minus 30C, and snow covers the ground until at least April.

Patricia Cowern traded the West Midlands for the village of Porjus (population 400) after visiting the area in 1995 with her son, Toby, who was on an outdoor survival course.

“The space, quiet and proximity to nature just overwhelmed me,” says Patricia, a photographer who runs a gallery (pictures of the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are her speciality) and rents out four self-catering flats in the village.

Toby, 31, also decided to move permanently to Porjus, and now makes a living as a tour guide, taking visitors on snowmobile and dog-sledding trips. In the short Lapland summer, he offers canoeing and hiking, and helps out as a part-time fireman. His two daughters, aged six and nine, go to the village school and speak perfect Swedish.

“Lapland gives the girls freedom to be children,” says Patricia, of her grandchildren. “The village is simple, but it’s safe. Weather permitting, they are out on their bikes all the time, and only come home when they are hungry. In the winter, they love to ski. You could call it a rather old-fashioned kind of life.”

But Patricia has advice about putting down roots in Lapland: “First, you can’t live here and not like the outdoors.  Secondly, you need to be resourceful and make your own job.” Meanwhile, brown bears, lynx, elk and the ubiquitous reindeer roam the hills and forests. In the warmer months, fields are full of flowers, and huge mushrooms and tiny wild strawberries abound.

David and Kerstin Carpenter, both from Essex, have helped a number of British expats set up home in and around Jokkmokk. With 3,000 people, it is the capital of a municipality of less than 6,000 permanent residents spread over an area larger than Northern Ireland.

Jokkmokk is well known for its Sami (indigenous Lapp) crafts fair, which has taken place every February for 400 years. The fair features reindeer racing and traditional singing. A wide selection of pelts and furs are on sale.

Homes in Lapland are traditionally painted red with white trimmings around the door and windows. “The vast majority of houses are made of wood,” says David. “They are not just timber-framed, they are made entirely of wood.”

Wooden houses can last for decades in the predominantly dry climate. Homes have large grounds, often with saunas.

Snow on the roofs might be picturesque, but it can be a problem because of the weight. “In the early spring, snow begins to melt in the day,” says David. “Then it freezes overnight. As a result, it turns to ice and of course becomes heavier and heavier if not removed.”

Transport problems experienced in Britain after a light coating of snow are unthinkable. Ploughs clear main roads as soon as snow falls, and locals use tractors to clear minor roads and tracks. And what about airports shut down because of wintry weather? “I’ve never heard that Lulea airport [115 miles from Jokkmokk on the coast] has had to close in the winter for any reason other than fog,” says Patricia.

While depopulation is a problem in Sweden’s far north, communities are becoming multicultural. There are up to 30 different nationalities in Jokkmokk town, which has about a dozen British residents. Patricia estimates that there are now 14 different nationalities in Porjus. German, British and Dutch incomers are the biggest national groups.

“In the long term, these communities are declining,” says David. “For every 200 people who move in, from southern Sweden and abroad, we lose 225 as the older generation dies, and young people move out to a University or job in the south of Sweden”.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the local council, a regional bank and Vattenfall, the nationally owned power company, have set up Emigrate2Jokkmokk to attract new residents, particularly young families, and offer help when they arrive.

David administers the programme: “We have a lot to offer here: lakes with water fresh enough to drink, wonderful fishing in all seasons, and peace and quiet. Prices for many things are similar to the UK.”

But some things you can’t easily buy in Britain, cold winter or not. In Swedish Lapland, for as little as £500, you can be the proud owner of a second-hand snowmobile.