On the slopes of the Levi fell are nine restaurants (including ‘Tuikku’, or ‘Tea-candle’, at the top of the fell), while 15 of the pistes are illuminated. This is a particularly important factor in mid-December, when Levi only gets about three hours of daylight each day. The longest downhill ski run extends for 1.55 miles (2.5km) and the longest ski lift is 1,636 meters (1.01 miles) long. Levi also has one superpipe and one halfpipe for extreme winter sports, as well as two snow parks. Within the Levi resort area, there are also lakes suitable for ice skating and speed skating, as well as a 3 mile (5km) cross-country skating route.
The front slope of the fell is only a matter of 200 metres or so from the center of the village, and boasts a touristy winter market conveniently right at its foot. At the top of the front slope, next to the top terminus of the main gondola express lift, is the Levi Summit Conference & Exhibition Centre, and in late 2009 a new hotel was being constructed right next to it.
Not surprisingly, Levi also boasts a large ski school, which Turgala says has 120 instructors. The resort invested some 10 million euros on facilities to make itself eligible for Ski World Cup consideration, the investment beginning to off in 2000 when Levi was first chosen to host a European Cup event.
In 2004 and 2006, Levi hosted World Cup ladies events and hosted both men’s and women’s World Cup slalom events from November 13 to November 15, 2009. Levi is also in the FIS World Cup calendar for the 2013-14 season, according to Turgala.
The village of Sirkka itself – still relatively small but growing quickly – has 40 restaurants (offering 15,000 daily seats), a variety of bars and nightclubs, six hotels, two apartment hotels and many chalet-style lodgings. Overall, the Levi resort area is adding tourist beds at the rate of about 1,000 beds a year, says Turgala.
Altogether, he says, Levi has some 50 companies offering approximately 1,000 tourism-related activities, from dining to hot-air ballooning, as well as guided wilderness safaris by dog-sleigh or snowmobile. The safaris are run by at least three specialist safari companies, which provide all their customers with all the necessary equipment and extreme-weather clothing. Reindeer are, of course, almost ubiquitous.
Outside the main skiing and winter-sports areas on Levi fell and the center of Sirkka, the Levi resort area offers a number of tourism-related facilities and centres. One particularly interesting one – visited by the author of this article – is called Taivaanvakeat, which is located some 5 miles (8km) northeast of Sirkka near the small village of Köngäs.
Specifically designed to accommodate groups of up to 28 people, Taivaanvalkeat is a centre where tourism groups can experience – over periods ranging from an evening to several days – activities that include dog- and reindeer-sleigh riding, snowmobiling, tobogganing and ceremonies conducted by Sami shamen. Hardy souls – who must undergo extensive preparation beforehand – can even dip in ice pools following their saunas. Taivanvalkeat also boasts a group restaurant, Tonttula (this means “Elves Cottage”), which has a Santa Claus’ Post Office and can seat 300 people.
While the Levi resort as a whole only has about 800 year-round inhabitants, it now hosts some 600,000 visitors a year and sees 2.5 million nights of accommodation-nights, says Turgala. Considerable further growth is possible for Levi as a winter resort, but he says Levi is now devoting an increasing amount of attention to marketing itself as a summer destination too.
Although Turgala says Levi is “much quieter” in summer than winter, it offers a wide variety of summer outdoor activities. In Lapland, “the land of the midnight sun” where in summer the sun never sets, these can be enjoyed to the absolute full by anyone who doesn’t mind going without sleep.
Some of Levi’s snowslopes, for instance, are ideal for mountain-biking and Levi fell now boasts a Kona bike park – the Levi Bike Park, which extends over a vertical distance of 310 metres. The Levi Bike Park has freeride and downhill trails (the downhill trail is 1.5km long) as well as a dirt track suitable for experienced bike jumpers.
The resort’s other outdoor activities include pony trekking, fishing, canoeing, off-road biking, hiking, nature-watching, Nordic walking (on 13 routes totalling a distance of 70 miles, or 113km), and an adventure park offering abseiling, overhead ropeways and rope bridges. West and north of Levi lie two large national parks, each preserving huge areas of Lapland wilderness. Levi even has golfing.
Then, of course, there are the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis – most visible, of course, during the dark nights of winter. Levi is 80 miles (130km) inside the Arctic Circle. Levi, and the massive area of Lapland that lies all about it hundreds of miles in every direction, officially has the cleanest air – and so also the clearest night skies – in all of Europe.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the resort of Levi in Lapland, the resort’s official English-language website can be found at www.levi.fi/en/home.html.