ForUm has found out what are the best places to visit the Farther Frost and whether the audience with him is worth-while.
Where to go?
You can find the Farther Frost or his foreign colleagues almost in any country of the world, but tour operators and experienced travelers note only several residences of the "very true" magician.
For Ukrainians, for example, the nearest residence of the Father Frost, or more precisely Saint Nicolas, is located in the Carpathians - Prystan village of Ivano-Frankivsk region, near the popular tourist center Kosova. The Saint literally lives at work. Apart from his mansion, the complex includes a post-office to process thousands of letters from Ukrainian children, two museums dedicated to the nature of the Carpathians and history of New Year decorations. Moreover, despite rather impressive inflow of tourists, the prices in his residence are nominal.
If you want to look for the Father Frost outside Ukraine, but not too far, you can go to Belarus or Russia. One of the residences is located in Belarusian village Kameniuki, on the territory of the well-known Bialowieza forest. Russian Farther Frost lives in Veliky Ustyug, where there is a whole theme park, dedicated to the most popular holiday in the CIS. By the way, Ustyug has the most developed tourist infrastructure, which makes the visit to the Farther Frost a costly affair by default.
Each of these residences is considered the "very true" one, but taking into account this classification, the "super real very true" residence of the Farther Frost, or local Joulupukki, is located in Rovaniemi, Lapland. His residence also includes theme and amusement parks for both children and adults.
When to go?
According to popular belief, the period between the New Year and Christmas is the best time to visit the Farther Frost. But remember two things. The first one is the inflow of tourists having the same idea. Many travelers complain that because of numerous guests workers of the residences do not have time and possibility to focus on every guest. And secondly, Santa's residences work almost the year round. In the Carpathians, Bialowieza forest and Veliky Ustyug, various theme parties are organized not only in winter. You can hardly experience New Year in July, of course, but going a week before or after the winter holidays will make your journey more comfortable.
Is it worth-while to go for the audience with Santa only?
Tour operators often offer a visit to a residence of the Farther Frost as a separate tour, but the question arises: is it worth-while? Those who have already experienced such tours say that the expectations are often overstated.
"We've been to Lapland, and I can tell that if you take children they must still believe in the Farther Frost, otherwise the visit won't be very interesting. We did not buy the tour, but traveled on our own, and comparing to the prices of tour operators, we even saved us some money. Our personal tour included various activities, and we reserved the visit to the residence of the Farther Frost for the last day of vacations. And it turned out for the better. In my opinion, it is not worth it to go to Finland for the residence of the Farther Frost only," mother of two children Olena tells.
"When we were on vacation in the Carpathians, we took a tour to the residence of Saint Nicolas. It was after Christmas. The place is very beautiful, the view is magnificent, but the mansion itself did not impress. It was interesting, but nothing more. I would recommend to take a larger tour and visit the residence in passing," Iryna says.
Tourists have similar comments about Belarusian and Russian residences and recommend to explore the very Bialowieza forest and Veliky Ustyug as well.
Anyway, the magic of the New Year is not the holiday itself, but an ability to create proper atmosphere. Thus, a visit to the Farther Frost, be it in a "very true" residence or the nearest shopping center, can become magical if you are ready to believe in miracles.
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