Levi ski slopes - Wikimedia / Erik Sindonen
Levi is Finland's premier ski resort, located in the Lapland area of the country. You may also hear it referred to as Levi Fell (which is actually the name of the main hill in the resort) or Sirkka (which is the name of the original village from which the ski resort developed).
Whilst Levi doesn't have anywhere near the same amount of verticals of the majority of Alpine resorts, it does have an extremely reliable and long season. It also has a certain unique charm of it's own, and is also very popular with the 'Santa Experience' phenomenon that hit Lapland in the 1990's and created a genuine winter tourist industry for the Lapland area.
Ok, so Finland's top ski resort may not have the vertical drop or the range of skiing of its Alpine counterparts, but what it lack in these area it makes up for in another - snow.
It falls gradually from the start of October, and once it's started it doesn't tend to go away. This is due to Levi's latitude - 90 miles within the Arctic Circle. Obviously this does have drawbacks - it can be absolutely freezing, and the chances of bright blue skies diminish the closer you get to the longest day, 21st December, when the only brightness you'll see will be from the pistes floodlights. However, Levi has a nice, modern, clean feel to it, and whilst advanced skiers may struggle to keep themselves occupied for a full week there's a host of other activities to have a go at, and, as it's in Lapland, it's a great place to take a family.
Levi's snow record has been recognised over the last few years by the FIS, and it now stages one of the World Cup's early races, usually men's and women's slaloms at the start of November.
Afraid not. Whilst the ski season can last well into May in a good year, the hills are too low for any reliable snow cover after that.
As with other Finnish ski resorts, Levi doesn't have the height of Alpine ski resorts (the highest lift is only 530m), but it certainly has the snow.
The snow usually starts falling at the start of November, in time for Levi to host opening slalom race of the World Cup season, and it's normally cold enough, and snowy enough, for the ski season to last to the end of April and often into May.
No live-streams are currently available for Levi.
A list of webcams for Levi and the surrounding area.
If you want some further information on Levi, then you might find these links to other sites useful...
The easiest way is to fly to Kittila airport. You can get there from a variety of UK locations including Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham. The flight time from the UK is between 3 and 3.5 hours. It's only 18km from Kittila to Levi so the transfer time is only about 20 minutes.
If your travel operator doesn't include transport to your accommodation don't worry, there's a regular bus service from Kittila to Levi costing just over 6 euros. Remember that when you arrive it can be a totally different experience to flying to the international airports that serve many of the alpine ski resorts. Kittila is only a small airport and the weather is not going to be that different from Levi and the ski slopes, so don't just fly out in a t-shirt and jeans. Unless you like being really cold.
Go to the Kittila Airport website for further information.
The forest Lapps first populated the region around Levi fell in the 17th century. The forest Lapps made their living by hunting, fishing and reindeer herding. Their village was situated by the sacred lake Immel, between the two fells of Levi and Kätkä, and it was named Sirkka. The name Sirkka comes from Lake Sirkkajärvi which is located on the northern side of the village. Sirkka means accumulation of water. Levi is the name of the fell. Local people refer to the village by both names Sirkka and Levi, but the officially the village is named Sirkka and the fell is named Levi.
Despite it's remoteness there have been travellers in Lapland since the 17th century but it wasn't until the 1860's when the first Inn was created at Juho Sirkka´s House.
The village grew steadily and during the years after the 2nd World War its inhabitants decided to market this unique region to tourism. After a while the tourists started to recognize the name of the fell, Levi, as the name of the skiing resort, and this name was used in tourist circles rather than Sirkka. Nowadays Levi is widely known as the biggest ski and recreation centre in Finland.
Sirkka's first real tourism business was formed in 1953, with the creation of the Matkailumaja chalets (which are still operating under the name Levilehto Apartments). Even during the early days of the 1950's tourists came all the way from faraway countries; Australia, Canada and Japan, to visit the village of Sirkka and Levi fell. The traveller's interest towards Levi grew further during the 1960's with the onset of slalom skiing and had increased dramatically by 1964 when Kittilä municipality acquired land from the Levi fell. The building of holiday cottages started in Levi at the end of the 1970's and by 1976 the accommodation capacity of Sirkka village was up to 997 beds.
In 1976 Levin Hissit Oy, the slope company, was founded. During the slope company's early days the skiing season didn't start until February and ended on the 1st of May. The potential for tourism in the area was dramatically increased in 1982 with the opening of Kittilä Airport, less than 20km from the village. The following year the slope company built an 800m long summer toboggan ride on the fell, as the village tried to market itself as an all-year destination, rather than solely winter. To make the sales and marketing of the area more effective, Levi Travel Ltd was formed in 1989 and it's office was also used as a central booking office for the whole area. During the 1992-1993 winter season Levi was elected as the Finnish skiing centre of the year for the first time, an accolade it has won many times since.
At midnight on new years eve in 1999 the first gondola lift in Finland was started in Levi. The following season, between 29/11/2000 and 2/12/2000 Levi hosted a men's European Cup slalom and giant slalom competition for the first time, and as a result of it's success the following season saw Levi named as the only reserve location for Aspen's World Cup competitions, and thus Levi gained a permanent place in the FIS competition calendar during the autumn of 2001. This meant that Levi was practically accepted as an equal World Cup organizer among the other, more traditional World Cup ski venues. During the 2000-2001 season Levi became the biggest ski centre in Finland, when measured by the ski passes sales.
During the 2001-2002 season work on the competition centre (owned by the slope company) was completed at the ground station of the gondola lift. The investments to the competition area included building the gondola lift and the World Cup slope with enclosed services, competition lighting (to make it possible to show the skiing on television), artificial snow capability (not that it needs it!) and the competition centre meeting international standards.
The success continued when Levi was allowed to organize the women's opening European Cup competition between 29-30/11/2001. The needs of cross-country skiers were also kept in mind when the first skiing track made with artificial snow was opened on25/10/2001. The men's opening European Cup competition was held in Levi between 27-30/11/2002 and finally the true Alpine circus arrived to the fell when the women's World Cup was hosted in Levi between 27-29/2/2004.
Besides the Alpine competitions, Levi started to successfully host other international competitions. The Ski Orientation World Championships from 3-12/3/2005 brought a lot of foreign competitors, press and other quests to Levi, as did the airlines World Championships held from 13-18/3/2005.
The competition calendar of Levi now shows that the resort has grown rapidly into an internationally recognised ski resort and today Levi can be described as Finland's biggest winter destination with 47 slopes, 26 ski lifts and 230 km of skiing tracks.