Children from Carrickfergus have seen their Christmas wishes come true during a journey to meet Santa in his Lapland home.
The local group departed last Wednesday on the one-day “Fantasy Flight” with the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Trust.
The Carrick-based charity organises an annual visit to Lapland for terminally ill, long-term ill and deserving children, along with their parents and carers.
A total of 218 people took part in this year’s Fantasy Flight, including 108 children, said NICLT chairman Jack Rogers.
“It was a super day; both the kids and adults really enjoyed it. We had a big group from Carrick this year,” said Jack, from Larne.
After flying from Belfast International to Finland’s Rovaniemi Airport, the children were taken to the indoor Santapark, a massive underground venue which was formerly a nuclear bunker, where they met Father Christmas himself.
The dream come true trip also includes a range of winter-themed activities, including reindeer rides and sledging, plus a visit to an ice gallery, an elf workshop, and Mrs Claus’ Gingerbread Bakery.
Joining the NICLT group this year were seven pupils from Roddensvale School in Larne.
It is the third year that the school has taken part in the trip.
As has been the case in previous years, fundraising for the Trust’s trip was right up to the wire, according to the chairman.
“Most people would think of us as a Christmas charity, but everything has to be booked in advance; we’re always fundraising right up until the flight and even after it.”
One of the main contributors to the Children to Lapland Trust fund was last month’s Walk to Scotland event.
The venture sees participants generate sponsorship by walking a designated circuit around the Stena Line ferry as it sails from Belfast to Scotland.
Walkers were treated to a meal and entertainment afterwards.
“It was the third year of Walk to Scotland and we had 150 people take part, which was double what we had originally,” added Jack.
Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Trust has been operating the annual Fantasy Flight since 2006.
In recent years, the charity has complemented the winter Lapland trip by running the ‘Days to Remember’ summer excursion to Disneyland in Paris.
For more information on the charity, visit www.niclt.org/contact-us/ or search Children to Lapland Trust on Facebook.