Claus and effect

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With this winter predicted to be the best time for seeing the Northern Lights in 50 years, tour operators are confident that parents and grandparents will shrug off the recession to book packages to meet Father Christmas in Lapland.

For families nervous about taking on extra expense, deals are already available.

At Santa’s Lapland, part of tour operator Esprit, travellers making an early start can take advantage of a free overnight hotel and free car parking at Gatwick before early flights on December 5, 7, 10 and 11.

These packages either start at £678 per adult with children travelling free, or everybody paying from £439, inclusive of return flights, transfers, half-board hotel accommodation, full day’s activities in a snowy woodland and a private family visit to see Father Christmas.

From December 4, the same operator offers two-night stays at the Hotel Holiday Club in snowy Saariselka from a total of £2,011 for two adults and two children; and from December 11, they offer a three-day (two-night) trip based on Santa’s Hotel Tunturi, Saariselka, for a total of £2,216 for a group of four, saving £304.

Both packages include return flights from Manchester, transfers, a meeting with Santa, reindeer sleigh rides, husky dog sledding and a day in an activity centre.

At Inghams, Lapland deals include four- and seven-night breaks. Seven nights’ half-board from December 9 at the four-star Levitunturi Spa Hotel, Levi, starts at £699, saving £198.

The hotel boasts a new spa and children facilities including 17 indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley and children’s playhouse, all a short walk from the resort centre, and including flights ex-Gatwick to Kittila and resort transfers. Flights from Manchester at a supplement.

Inghams also offers seven nights’ self-catering from December 9 at the four-star Yllas Log Cabins in Yllas from £429, saving £155. The price includes flights from Gatwick to Kittila and resort transfers. Flights also leave from Manchester.

If winter sports fans are prepared to do their skiing in Britain, they can slash their costs, according to Travelodge. The Yorkshire one is SNO!Zone at Castleford. The 170m-long main slope is covered with more than 1,700 tonnes of fresh snow, with two poma lifts and dedicated lesson slopes for beginners to build skills. The nearest Travelodge is at the A1/M62 junction.