Take your passion for driving to the farthest corners of the Earth – to Arjeplog, to be precise. This small town in Sweden’s Arctic Circle may seem modest in size and facility. Still, every winter, some of the world’s largest automotive brands descend to host thrilling driving experiences while testing their own new vehicles.
Just a short flight from Stockholm, Jaguar Land Rover’s three- or four-day Ice Academy makes its home at Silverhatten Resort Hotel. And whether you have plenty of experience drifting round circuits or rarely sit in the driver’s seat, the Ice Academy will cater to you, thanks to the impressive Lake Kakal. Huge areas of open water freeze every winter to create the ideal platform for ice driving, which is tested daily for depth and safety, accommodating a variety of vehicles suited to every experience level.
A snowplough pushes the snow to create a slalom of sweeping bends and long straights that comprise the racetrack. Every experience begins with the four-wheel-drive vehicles, as participants become acclimatised to the ice and the new driving conditions.
Progressing throughout the week, skilled drivers can experiment with other cars and more advanced manoeuvres. For true experts who want to experience the maximum capabilities of these impressive vehicles, there is an opportunity to book an advanced course with one-on-one tuition from a master instructor.
Following two or three days of piloting the icy lake, the experience of driving in the Arctic Circle doesn’t come to an end. The real thrillseekers can upgrade their hot lap in one of the limited-edition vehicles and be taken onto the frozen lake as a passenger for a demo from the experts. Expect to be thrown around by your instructor as they show you how the professionals do it; even the best of students always want to return after they see these incredible skills and level of control.
To experience the full aptitude of the vehicles, pursue a drive through the surrounding areas of the Arctic Circle. Driving through the rugged and icy terrain encircled by pine forests and other frozen, open lakes, the luxury SUV will be prime in its natural environment with staggering vistas as the backdrop.
In addition to the driving itself, the week is spent with fellow enthusiasts. Featuring loosely structured days with morning driving, followed by lunch, then further driving in the afternoon, there is ample time to connect with other like-minded travellers. Dinner is a convivial affair with the other participants and instructors, spent enjoying traditional Swedish cuisine around cosy fires.
Once the driving is mastered, perhaps try your hand at another mode of transport across the vast expanse of space. Hop aboard a snowmobile for a three- or five-hour snow safari experience, exploring hidden corners of the surrounding landscape aboard a highly powered two-track vehicle.
Or instead, replace the noise of engines with the barking communication of man’s best friend: in truth, husky sledging is the original ice driving. As horsepower is replaced with dog power, be pulled through the snow at often jaw-dropping speeds while you appreciate the stunning scenery on offer.
Those who have had enough thrillseeking but still want to see the Arctic Circle can wrap up in their thermals and don a pair of snowshoes to walk into the town and explore how the locals live by visiting a Sámi cultural centre. The traditions, life and experiences of the Indigenous northern Swedes are detailed alongside craft exhibitions and revolving festivals. These additional experiences can all be booked for the morning of your final day – a great way to round out the trip before you travel home.
For novice drivers and seasoned aficionados alike, this is truly a bucket list experience. Not only is it a fantastic chance to visit one of the extreme corners of the planet, drivers will also improve their skills. Progression through time spent at the academy fosters a sense of achievement and one of camaraderie – many guests return annually and the established friendships see a bond that lasts through multiple visits.