Who would have ever guessed that one of the coldest places on earth would be the hottest travel destination of the past few years? As the buzz grows around tourism in Finland, more and more attention is being drawn to Lapland, the country’s remotest region. Located mainly within the Arctic Circle with its rolling fells and pristine lakes, its old-growth conifers and nightly appearances of the Northern Lights make Lapland truly what dreams are made of. It’s where the Finns go to escape their immaculately clean cities, enjoy their mandatory minimum of 25 vacation days or state-funded retirement pension, and improve their happiness (already ranked #1 in the world) by losing themselves in the serenity of a primeval forest.
For hapless Americans, stuck in 19th place on the World Happiness Report with our congested urban sprawl and student debt crisis, a visit to Lapland can feel as out of reach as affordable healthcare or complete streets. For us, there is Sounds of Lapland.
Created by House of Lapland and Visit Finland (the people who brought you “Rent a Finn”), Sound of Lapland is a collection of natural and ambient sounds recorded on-site amid Lapland’s vast forests, atop its gentle fells, even within the quiet log cabins beside crackling fires with the arctic wind howling outside. Cue up the track, close your eyes, and travel in your mind to a remote corner of the world where ice-cold brooks murmur gently over moss-covered boulders, reindeer pace soundlessly amid old-growth pines, and tiny birds bob on downy fields of cottongrass under the golden glow of the midnight sun.
Jesse Ketonen, House of Lapland’s head of travel marketing, suggests that the chart-topping happiness of the Finnish people may be due in large part to the time they spend in nature. “Research shows that only 15 minutes in the forest reduces the stress level [and] empowers and calms us. Focusing on the sounds and sights of nature is the oldest form of meditation. We hope that people get inspired by the sounds and use them to create their very own interpretation of Finnish Lapland.”
“Research shows that only 15 minutes in the forest reduces the stress level [and] empowers and calms us. Focusing on the sounds and sights of nature is the oldest form of meditation.”
I tested out the three available “Scapes” from Sound of Lapland on a lazy vacation weekend when conditions were optimal for relaxing and getting some sleep. “Arctic Freeflow” offered the calming sound of water streaming over boulders. After the first few minutes of “Forestsong,” a visceral audio experience of wind singing through the woods, birds calling, and footfalls whispering on the forest floor, I was completely knocked out. The final track, “Frost & Fire,” was a perfect gentle wake-up call, with its crackling fire and gentle creaking floorboards.
It has to be said that Lapland, while beautiful, can be a forbidding place — the physical demands of exploring unsullied nature are no joke. Sound of Lapland, on the other hand, deliver all the feels with none of the accompanying rigors. Whether you listen to the recording as a meditation aide, a noise pollution solution, or simply to ground your thoughts and emotions in the midst of a chaotic day, it’s guaranteed to transport you to a better place.
If you could use some serenity now, find Sounds of Lapland on Spotify, type @OnlyInLapland into your Instagram search bar, and lose yourself in a virtual experience of a real live natural fairyland.
Learn more about the Sound of Lapland project here. While there are only three tracks, more are planned for release throughout the rest of 2019.