It was a fine Saturday morning. Unlike the earlier days, the atmosphere was filled with a cool breeze and warm sunshine. It was the perfect day for an outdoor stroll. We, along with some other Sri Lankans who live in Oulu, decided to take advantage of this perfect day. We decided to visit Kemi, which is 106km away from Oulu.
One of the famous attractions in Kemi during winter is the Snow Castle, which is rebuilt every winter with a different architecture. The castle was first created in 1996 and it was a gift from UNICEF. The ice for the furnishings and decorations is pulled from the Gulf of Bothnia, the northernmost area of the Baltic Sea!
Inside the hotel
Inside the castle, there is a snow hotel, a snow restaurant, and a snow chapel. Right through the castle there are fantastic ice sculptures and carvings on the snow walls.
Every year there is a different theme and this year’s theme was fantasy. So, inside the castle, there are ice sculptures of various themes related to fantasy. It’s open for visitors every year from the end of January until the beginning of April. The Snow Castle has two mascots, Arttu and Terttu, who look like snowballs and have interesting stories for entertaining the kids.
In the snow hotel, there are 18 double/single rooms and two group-rooms with five beds as well as a Honeymoon Suite. One room in particular that I enjoyed was the Angry Birds room. Each room has beds made of ice, with a mattress on top. The illuminated ice and snow art in the suites were absolutely beautiful. The temperature inside remain at a steady minus 5 degrees Celsius cold but warmer than the winter temperatures outside, which often hit minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Entry to the Snow castle was 10 Euro each and prices for Snow Hotel ranges from 115€/night for a double room to €275/night for a honeymoon suite.
The Snow Restaurant is unique and the tables are made completely out of ice, seats are covered with special reindeer fur and all the decorations are ice sculptures. They serve hot and cold beverages as well as snacks, dinner and lunch. The meal in the Snow Restaurant was also very nice, the food was surprisingly good, and remained warm long enough for you to eat it.
The Snow Chapel is a popular attraction for weddings. Over the years dozens of couples from around the world have had their wedding in the Snow Chapel. A visit to the Snow Castle is a fantastic experience and one I would highly recommend to anyone travelling through Finnish Lapland in the winter.
Photos taken by Lakmal Madhusanka Liyanage.