Lap up Finland's Finest
There are many things that Finland does well - saunas, vodka, the hippo-like Moomins - but arguably it's the country's wild landscape that shine brightest. Nicknamed the 'land of a thousand lakes' (although it would be more accurate to say 188,000 lakes), Finland is blessed with natural good looks. Saimaa, the largest of the country's lakes, lies to the east while to the north is Lapland (more on that later), a winter wonderland high above the Arctic Circle. Four specially dedicated Nature Days spread across the seasons with events across the country are designed to show off the very best of Finland's fabled natural spaces, from springtime forging to summer hiking trails.
Although the country is preparing to pay tribute to the past, it's also looking ahead, with new establishments and experiences proving that Finland is very much a cosmopolitan nation. Look no further than its capital city. Hip and handsome. Helsinki is on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and is home to 1.1 million Finns. Bed down in serious style at the new Hotel Lilla Roberts, a former police station that dates back to 1908. The 'cells' have been upgraded (and expanded considerably) with contemporary designs, while the foyer has warming fires and black-and-white tiles.
A spot of shopping
Long regarded as the epicentre of Nordic design, Helsinki's Design District features a collection of more than 200 innovative interiors stores, fashion boutiques, galleries and eateries concentrated around a cluster of streets in the city centre, and affords a pleasant stroll.
Pick up some vintage pieces from Bisarri and trendy homeware items from Zarro. Then survey all your lovely new purchases with a gin cocktail at quirky new bar Steam Hellsinki. Filled with strange knick-knacks, the Victorian-themed drinking den serves up Willy Wonka-style tipples such as the Chucka-boohoo with gin, lime juice and lingonberry jam. Sweet.
Names in high places
There's more to Lapland than reindeer and Santa's grotto. This fairy-tae region has had a much-needed injection of glamour in the form of Javri Lodge.
This luxurious ten-room wooden lodge, just 30km from the Russian border in Saariselka, was the private winter residence of former Finnish president Urho Kekkonen, who was in office between 1956 and 1982.
During those days, he hosted heads of state here (including the Queen, if rumours are to be believed). If true, she was no doubt impressed by the wild surroundings of endless snowy forests laced with cross-country ski trails. Now, for the first time, the public can experience its splendour and venture out in search of adventure, from ice-fishing to hunting down the Northern Lights.