Lapland is known for having 8 fairly distinct climatic seasons. This is partly due to the fact that winter itself lasts for about a year, so the normal four seasons experienced elsewhere in Europe don't really apply to here. It is also partly due to the changing outdoor activities which are the most common at the different times of year.
Early Winter's First Snows
The first snowfall may occur in Lapland as early as August – September, but permanent snow cover normally falls in November. Christmastime is the darkest time for Lapland’s twilight period, a time when the sun does not rise above the horizon and there are only a few hours of daylight.
Deep Twilight Winter
In Enontekiö we have over 3 weeks in which the sun does not show its head above the horizon. This is known as deep winter. This is an easy time of year to spot the northern lights which dance regularly in the dark skies.
February is statistically the coldest month of the year, and it is during this time that we transition from deep winter to frosty winter. By now most of the snow which will fall during the preiod has already fallen and the snow is over a metre in height. This is the time of the year when you can truly marvel at the Lappish scenery since the added daylight hours help you to admire your white surroundings and the trees which are heavily laden with snow.
As the Spring comes, the snow turns crusty and this is the next distinct 'season' before the period when the snow and ice starts to melt in Early Summer.
Early Spring - good outdoor conditions
The sunshine seems to appear from nowhere to once more illuminate the northern skies and spectacularly reflects off the glistening snow. The sunshine and just below zero temperatures of early spring entice people into activities throughout the springtime, as late March is the time with the most snow and the skiing conditions in Lapland are excellent through to mid-May.
Late Spring - the ice melt
The rays of sunshine glisten off the snow and warm lovers of the great outdoors. Birds start the day with joyful song and catkins start to form on the willow bushes. It is spring, the transitional period from winter to summer.
This is a time when the snow gradually starts to melt and nature awakens to once more display its splendour. It may also even snow in late spring, but summer is on its way.
Summer and the Midnight Sun
Summer in Lapland is bright, the time of the nightless night. Night and day the midnight sun stays above the horizon for weeks at a time. Actual hot weather (>25°C) days are few and far between in Lapland, as the average temperature for the whole of Lapland varies between 10 to 16 degrees Celsius. However, there have been weeks in recent years when Lapland has had hotter weather than anywhere else in Europe!
Before Midsummer frost can occur in many places in Lapland and temperatures in early June can fall a few degrees below zero and it may even snow. If this happens it is called back winter and it is very unfortunate for the flora in the region, as the total growing season only lasts around three months.
July and its last weeks are the warmest times of the summer. Early summer also has very little precipitation, as rain only starts to increase around August. The rugged nature and the nightless night at this time of year can be experienced by trekking, cycling and horse riding the terrain, or traversing the waterways by canoeing, white water rafting and fishing. In the summertime, visitors should be prepared for mosquitoes, especially if your trip heads for the Lappish wilderness in the heart of nature.
Harvest Time / Late Summer
Harvest is a noteworthy time in Lapland since folk had to work hard to bring in what food they could before the frosts of early winter returned. Hence, this distinct post-mosquito period before the Autumn colours arrive has a special place in Finnish hearts.
As the first night time frost of autumn sets in and the days get shorter, the vegetation starts preparations for the coming winter. The leaves of trees change colour from green into vibrant shades of golden yellow and glowing crimson to crown the period of natural colour and splendour calledruska. Ruska generally starts in the north after the first week in September. Apart from admiring the countryside during ruska, the autumn is otherwise a good time to head for Lapland’s nature. The forests are full of berries and mushrooms just waiting to be picked.