Chill out with the Sámi people
Leave the clock behind and explore the vast expanses of the breathtaking Sámi homeland, join in the festivals and activities of the locals, and get to know their way of life. We introduce you to just a few “Sámi things” you can experience over the course of a year.
The Sámi area of Northern Lapland offers year round unlimited outdoor and indoor activities, and most of all close contact with the unique culture of the Sámi – the only indigenous people of the European Union. The Sámi live in the Northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as in parts of North-Eastern Russia. In Finland, the Sámi population is approximately 9 000 strong, and the preservation of their endangered language and culture is governed by an autonomous parliament of Inari, Finland.
Let the Sámi guide and teach you
Accompany the “cowboys of the North”: join the Sámi in the municipalities of Inari, Enontekiö and Utsjoki, the only area in Finland with a Sámi majority. Let your Sámi hosts lead you to their reindeers and learn lasso-swinging, let them teach you their handicraft or take a lesson in Sámi cooking.
The Sámi witch drum is today a popular tourist item, originally used by medicine men as a tool, along with the Sámi chant called the joik, to fall into a trance in order to reach a level of communication with the Spirits.
A visit to the village of Inari, the heart of the Sámi homeland, and to Siida, the museum of the Finnish Sámi, is an absolute must. The outstanding, internationally acclaimed indoor and outdoor museum covers all aspects of the Sámi culture, past and present, as well as Lapland’s extraordinary environment. Siida’s enticing gift shop and the village’s many other craft shops offer plenty of interesting design products made of natural materials as well as local food and delicacies.
Fish, hunt and hike with the Sámis
You can fish with the Sámi, even in winter in the salmon rich Teno River or in the Inari Lake. Or you can hunt and pick wild mushrooms and berries like the rare golden colored cloudberry. Hike to the sacred fells, like Saana in the Kilpisjärvi area, or to the seitas, the holy stones and gateways to the spirit world. In the picturesque village of Hetta, where the Sámi culture is alive and strongest, the Fell-Sámi Visitor Centre points you to the right trails, and to Raittijärvi, the last genuine Sámi village, which has no access by road.
Join the Sámi events and celebrations
At the end of January and beginning of February, you can celebrate the end of the polar night by going to the Skábmagovat, the Indigenous Peoples’ Film and TV Production Festival in Inari or join the Sámi for their National Day celebrations on February 6.
In March and April, you can participate in ice-fishing and salmon fishing competitions or visit reindeer races all over Northern Lapland. Don’t miss the last and biggest race in Inari where the champion is crowned and reindeer herders from all over Lapland gather. The races usually end with a dance of the reindeer herders and gold-miners at the legendary Kultahovi-Hotel. That’s also the season for baptisms, weddings, markets, concerts, and dances, when the Sámi also celebrate their most important holidays, Annunciation (March 25) and Easter. In April, the traditional Ski Race, the most northern ski-marathon in the world, is held on the tracks of an ancient mail delivery path from the village of Hetta in Finland to Kautokeino in Norway.
In the summer, you can take part in the Teno river salmon fishing championship in Utsjoki in July, while the Music Festival of Indigenous Peoples, Ijahis idja (Nightless Night), and the Triphon procession of the Russian-orthodox Skolt-Sámi through four villages all take place in August.
delicious SÁMI food
Sámi food is always fresh and local, such as reindeer, fish, berries, game, and wild birds. Try creamy salmon soup, smoked or dried reindeer meat, willow grouse sausage, sautéed reindeer with Lappish potatoes and lingonberries, fried arctic char or salmon or Lappish bread and cheese with cloudberry jam.
To finish it all off – visit the tradition-steeped Kalastajan Majatalo or ”the Fisherman’s Inn” at Karigasniemi where the locals meet, make music, dance and sing the not-so-traditional karaoke on weekends.