23rd January 2024

30th Lapland Adventures

In a heart-warming return after a three year pause caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, When You Wish Upon a Star took two fully chartered flights to Lapland in December. This momentous occasion held special significance as it marked the 30th anniversary of When You Wish Upon a Star’s magical journeys to Lapland.

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The enchanting adventures commenced at the early hour of 4am from Glasgow Prestwick Airport and East Midlands Airport. As the children and their families arrived, they were greeted with the warmth of princesses, superheroes, a magician, arts and crafts, glitter tattoos and lots of treats – ushering in the festive spirit before the flight even took off.

Amidst the clouds, carols echoed, jokes brought laughter, and a magician, along with celebrities, ensured the families were thoroughly entertained. The Tui flight crew added the magic touch, donning Christmas costumes, while the pilots, in the midst of the flight shared the excitement of having just spotted flying past in his sleigh, lots of eager faces searched the skies for a glimpse of Rudolph in flight.

Our journeys to Lapland were not just a treat: it was a celebration of resilience, hope and the enduring magic that When You Wish Upon a Star has been bringing to the lives of children facing life threatening and terminal illnesses for three decades.

CEO of the charity Anita Cleugh said “We are so pleased that we have been able to return to Rovaniemi for our 30th trip. This year’s visit is particularly important to us being the first since the first since the pandemic hit, meaning we can finally get back to giving the incredible families we support their own trip of a lifetime.”


On arriving in Rovaneimi the families were met by traditional Finnish characters then everyone was transported to the enchanted forest for husky rides, reindeer sleigh rides, sledging, snowmobiling, snowball fights and toasting marshmallows and sausages around a campfire whilst watching a spectacular firework display before heading to see Father Christmas.

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Jill Scott, England Lioness said The work wish upon a star do is incredible! I had the most magical trip to Lapland and to see so many smiles on so many children’s faces despite what they are going through was one of the best experiences of my life! Waited 36 years to meet the real Santa and it didn’t disappoint! Husky rides, hot chocolate, and football in Lapland I feel so lucky! Thanks so much. Life is about making memories and this was a trip I will never forget.”

The families then warmly welcomed to a traditional Finnish lunch, including reindeer meat balls, at the hotel, offering cosy respite from the chilly -13 temperatures. The atmosphere radiated the warmth, as the families listened to a traditional Finnish band, mirroring the joy that was still to come.

Then, the much-anticipated moment arrived – Father Christmas, accompanied by the real Rudolf, made a grand entrance into the hotel to meet all the children. Father Christmas bestowed gifts upon the little ones and shared precious moments with each child. The Sheer delight on their faces was a breath taking sight, capturing moment of pure magic.

The festivities continued as families ventured to Santa’s Village. Here, they explored the real Santa’s Post Office, waved to friends and family back home from the Rovaniemi live webcam feed from the Arctic Circle, indulged in some shopping and more delicious festive treats before departing back to the airport.

The families were greeted back into arrivals by princess and superhero characters, goodie bags for the children and wonderful festive choirs. It was a journey filled with enchantment, creating memories that will linger in the hearts of these families for a lifetime.


We are delighted to share with you a taster of how the treat families felt following our 30th Lapland Adventures:

The Limb Family “We would firstly like to say WOW, what a day, absolutely amazing. We were blown away with how special and thoughtfully planned it was. We can’t even begin to imagine the work you guys have put in to make times like this so wonderful for families like us. We are so truly grateful to have a team like you in our lives. The girls loved every minute and so did we. These memories will give us smiles even on the times when we don’t feel like there’s much to smile about. It really was the best warm up to Christmas the girls could ever have. I hope you’re all now having a well earned rest. Merry Christmas. One last thing …. Thank you!

Kayla, Rick, Florence & Nancy Limb xxxx”

The Fagan Family “Thank you, "When You Wish Upon a Star," for orchestrating a truly enchanting experience to Lapland for our family and the many others! Our time there was nothing short of magical, filled with non-stop activities that kept us engaged and thrilled throughout each day. The surprises seemed never-ending, adding an extra layer of joy to our already incredible adventure.

We're incredibly grateful for the opportunity you provided us. This journey brought our family together in ways we hadn't experienced before, offering us much-needed quality time to simply have fun and create everlasting memories. It was a time we'll cherish forever, and we owe it all to your generosity and thoughtful planning. Thank you for making our dreams come true!

Kindest regardsDebbie Fagan & Family xx”


The Gallacher FamilyGosh, I really don't know where to start.....My son, Briant, has had such a difficult time over the last year.  He first showed signs of illness in Oct 2022 and was only diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) on Fri 27th Jan 2023.  Briant was forced to leave his friends and wider family in Jakarta so that he can get the treatment he needs in Aberdeen.  It's difficult to explain to a 9 year old boy that these changes are essential and will (hopefully) save his life.  The 10 months of treatment since January have been gruelling for Briant as he fights against this terrible disease. With this background, you can imagine how excited he was when we were contacted by When You Wish Upon a Star to invite us on your 30th trip to visit Santa in Lapland.

From the time we knew that our trip was going ahead, the team at When You Wish Upon a Star have been very understanding of our situation.  The help you gave with hotel accommodation was very much appreciated and the preparation pack had all the info we could ask for.

As for the trip, what can I say, it blew me away.  The time and effort of all the crew made the flight to Finland so easy.  The pre-flight entertainment was an added bonus.  As for our time in Lapland, all I can say is that it was seamless.  From our arrival in Roveniemi, all the way through our adventures in the forest as well as dinner with Santa, your team looked after us like honoured guests.

There were so many highlights and so many firsts for Briant to experience.  Suffice to say, the smile never left his face until he fell asleep on the flights home.  As for dad, the whole day was filled with happiness.

Thank you so much to all the unsung heroes (and heroin's) at When You Wish Upon a Star.  Special mention to the lovely ladies in your Nottingham office for their hard work in the run-up to the trip(s).

A special mention to Barbara for being such an inspiring person.  I'm impressed that anyone could do the Lapland trip twice in a year.  I'm amazed that Barbara has completed this epic trip 30 times.

Lastly, I'd like to share some really good news with you. Briant started the Maintenance Phase of his treatment when we got back to Aberdeen on Wednesday.  It seems quite fitting that When You Wish Upon a Star delivered the second best wish just in time for Briant, mum and dad to celebrate our first wish.

Merry Christmas everyone, I'm just waiting for Santa to come and visit dad (I hope Santa can make your wishes come true).”

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