Kemi SnowCastle (Kemi, Finland)

Touted as the biggest snow fort in the world, the SnowCastle of Kemi is rebuilt every winter right on the coast of Finland's beautiful Gulf of Bothnia. Since 1996, the annual snow construction has become an iconic travel destination as people fly in from around the world to see a professionally designed and built snow fort that can measure up to 20,000 square meters and reach up to 20 meters into the sky. Designed by architects, decorated by local artists with local materials and built with the utmost attention to detail and safety each year, the castle, made entirely of packed snow, has had up to three storeys and walls measuring over 1,000 meters long.

While locals and tourists alike love to visit, tour and sleep in the snow fort, couples come in from the far reaches of the globe to get married in the SnowChapel and then enjoy the icy hot honeymoon suite. Everything, from the theater, ice art exhibitions and the adventure land for children is built out of snow and ice. There's even a SnowRestaurant that has ice tables and reindeer-fur-lined seats.

The Kemi snow castle is a breathtaking site that is well worth the trip, not just because the massive snow fort offers an amazing experience, but because the surrounding community and bay area is full of entertainment all winter long.

Activities and Events

The fun never stops at the SnowCastle! In operation from late January to early April, the SnowCastle is bustling with concerts, shows and fun for the kids all week long. Getting married in the SnowChapel is not uncommon and small groups are encouraged to reserve space early because, even though the site closes to the public at night, SnowHotel guests often party late into the night.

Beyond the SnowCastle, Kemi is a very unique city with a full gamut of fun activities for the whole family. With the bay frozen over, vast stretches of undeveloped wilderness and plenty of snow, there is back-country skiing on natural sea ice, snowbiking and reindeer-pulled sled rides available. Teams of sled dogs are always at the ready as well, eager to pull riders through the pristine landscape.

There's even a gemstone gallery next door that, for a few extra Euro, gives visitors a chance to see precious stones and visitors shouldn't miss their opportunity to take a cruise on an exciting icebreaker ship that crashes through the Gulf of Bothnia.

Traveling to Kemi

The Kemi-Tornio Airport is six kilometers from the city of Kemi, so flying in is certainly an option and shuttle services are available to and from the SnowCastle. Because Kemi is connected to the rest of the country via several intersecting highways, it is also possible to drive or bus there from other parts of Europe, though tourists should be aware that winter driving in Finland can be, shall we say, an adventure in itself...

During the warmer months, it is possible to boat into Kemi because the Gulf of Bothnia connects directly to the Baltic Sea. However, this is mostly impossible during the winter without the use of special ice-breaking hulls.

Kemi SnowCastle Rates

Some visitors enjoy several nights in the Kemi SnowCastle as the accommodations are warm and comfortable, while the castle and area is brimming with activities for the whole family. From honeymooning newlyweds and retired couples to parents and their young children, everybody leaves the SnowCastle wishing for more.

The opening ceremony typically starts in January. General day rates are around €10 ($14USD) for adults and €5($7USD) for children ages 4 to 11.

Prices at the SnowRestaurant are in the €50 ($72USD) range, with a full line of gourmet meals available. When staying overnight in the SnowHotel, prices include entrance fee to the SnowCastle, overnight in a snow room, an arctic sleeping bag, breakfast in the warm CastleLounge and a morning shower.

SnowHotel rates (per person, per night)

  • Monday through Wednesday
  • Single room: €145 ($208USD)
  • Double room: €115 ($165USD)
  • Group room: €115 ($165USD)
  • Suite: €275 ($394USD)
  • Thursday through Sunday
  • Single room: €175 ($250USD)
  • Double room: €145 ($208USD)
  • Group room: €145 ($208USD)
  • Suite: €340 ($487USD)

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