Ruka ski resort in Finnish Lapland opened its ski season on October 18, once again becoming the first ski resort in Europe to open...

Ruka ski resort in Finnish Lapland opened its ski season on October 18, once again becoming the first ski resort in Europe to open its slopes.

The resort’s tourism authority says Ruka has been the first ski resort in Europe to open its slopes for the past 10 years.

This photograph shows Finnish Lapland resort Ruka's ski slopes after sunset. Ruka (the full name of which is Rukatunturi) is so far north that in winter the sun sets as early as 1:00 p.m.

Located in Northern Finland, only 30km (19 miles) from the Russian border, Ruka has 23,000 beds and 400,000 skier days available annually. Ruka (whose full name is Rukatunturi, the name of the fell on which the resort’s ski slopes are located) is known among international World Cup Ski Teams as a top early-season training location. In November and December, national ski teams from more than 30 countries will visit Ruka to train and compete in World Cup events.

Ruka also offers families outstanding slopes and dozens of other activities in unspoiled natural surroundings. Oulanka National Park is located just a few kilometres away. Ruka’s summer-skiing slope is normally open until mid-June, allowing almost 250 days of skiing each year. In Europe, only year-round glaciers have seasons of longer duration, the resort says.

This photograph shows Ruka's front slope in daylight. Ruka's 29 ski slopes are situated on Rukatunturi, a 1,610-foot (490m) fell located in Finland's far-north Kuusamo region

The Finnish Lapland resort of Ruka has undergone several phases of development over the past 60 years in order to become an internationally recognized ski resort. November 12 marks the official opening of the Ruka pedestrian village, a concept created by the Ecosign Mountain Planners of Canada. The Ruka pedestrian village consists of more than 1,000 visitor beds in several hotels, 15 restaurants, 10 shops and underground parking for 320 cars.

Ruka has hosted the FIS World Cup Nordic Opening (Cross Country, Nordic Combined and Ski Jump) for nine years in a row. This year the FIS Freestyle Mogul Skiing World Cup will also take place at Ruka, beginning on December 12. In 2005, Ruka also hosted the Freestyle World Championships.

Winter visitors to Ruka, a resort in the Kuusamo region of Finnish Lapland, view the Northern Lights, which are spectacular and easily viewed on many clear winter nights

Today 20 per cent of Ruka’s visitors are international, arriving mainly from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Russia. The resort aims to double its proportion of international visitors to 40 per cent by 2020.

Ruka is located 25km or 25 minutes (by car) from Kuusamo International Airport. Kuusamo airport is served daily by Finnair and Blue1 from Helsinki, twice a week by Air Baltic and by charter flights from Brussels, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

To find hotel deals in Rukatunturi, click here.