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In 1996 the people of Kemi decided to build a snow castle as a gift to all the children of the world. That first castle drew over 300,000 visitors and was such a success that they did it again the next year, and every year since. Each time a different architect has been used, thus making each castle unique and different. And come the spring, it all melts away.
As well as the snow restaurant, there’s also a snow chapel, which is popular as a wedding venue, and a snow hotel, where guests can spend the night. There’s also ice sculptures, as well as other exhibitions. The area makes a great base for exploring, with plenty of other activities on offer in the region, such as a cruise on an ice breaker.
Seated on fur-topped tree stumps and sat at a table made of solid ice must rank as a pretty unique dining experience. But the ice theme doesn’t stop there, even the drinks – made from pressed local berries – are served in solid ice cups. For something a little warmer, mulled wine and hot chocolate are provided, and if you fancy something stronger, the restaurant is fully licensed.
The food is broad in range and simple in design so that there’s something for every visitor, but of particular note is the Snow Castle Feast (€58). This starts with a warming vegetable soup, followed by fillet of reindeer, vegetables and a sauce made with loganberries. A dessert of cranberry mousse cake brings things to a close. If you fancy something a bit lighter, then a simple lunch menu featuring Finnish pasties and soups is available.
If you want to visit the Snow Castle, it opens in January 2018. See www.visitkemi.fi/en/snowcastle for more details.