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OF all the purchases that families don't need to make, a trip to the frozen wastes to shake hands with Santa Claus must be near the top of the list.

Yet all the Lapland hotels and flights have been booked, and several operators in this fast-growing market have a considerable amount of stock to sell. Stand by for some goodies.

Esprit Holidays is offering free child places on all departure dates on its Lapland programme for 2-5s, and up to 75% off adult price for older kids.

A further innovation from Esprit this winter is a new pounds 25 discount for each grandparent travelling as part of an extended family group.

Esprit's Andy Perrin says: "Lapland is quite literally a winter wonderland, and children can build snowmen, sledge and play in the snow, and enjoy the excitement of real husky sled and reindeer sleigh rides en route to their private family meeting with Santa."

However, it could be that more British parents have nonetheless decided to save cash by seeing a home-based Santa this winter, because Lapland operators are trimming prices even before Santa gets his first written requests from children.

Deals from Esprit Holidays are more generous in early December: three days in the snowy white Finnish resort of Saariselka, for instance, start at pounds 699, with some 2-5s holidaying free and big discounts for other children.

In the resort of Rovaniemi, Esprit's two-night stays in early December for a family of four at the Ski Hotel start around pounds 1,647, including flights, transfers, breakfasts and organised adventures including family snowmobile sleigh ride.

First Choice, with 17 properties across the resorts of Rovaniemi, Levi, Yllas and Pallas, has programmes which include free tasters on snowmobiles, husky and reindeer rides and activity mornings. The programme also covers the post-Christmas period, going into New Year celebrations.

First Choice has 'Search for Santa' day trips from pounds 399 per adult and pounds 339 per child. From December 27, adults pay pounds 865 for seven nights' hotel B&B, with child prices from pounds 649, with New Year celebrations including a gala dinner, champagne and a starlit firework display.

INFORMATION: Esprit Santa's Lapland (01252 618300; First Choice (0871 200 4455
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 3, 2009
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