If you want to see the Northern Lights you have to travel as far north as possible. It is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena; a magical multi-colored show in which the dark sky is suddenly lit up by a wonderful light that rotates and waves through the air. A winter holiday in Lapland is an option for a chance to see the Northern Lights. What are the best ways to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights are brightest in the polar region and are formed by fast-moving, electrically charged particles coming from the sun’s surface. These are driven towards the poles by the Earth’s magnetic field. The variation in color is the result of different gases in the atmosphere that the particles react with. When the solar activity is very high and therefore the explosions on the sun are numerous, the Northern Lights are a true spectacle in clear weather. In the Northern Hemisphere the name is Aurora Borealis. In the southern hemisphere it is called Aurora Astralis, but there the light does not have many spectators.
The area where the Northern Lights appear seems so far away. But in practice that is not so bad. There were already direct flights to Finnish Lapland and Northern Norway has also been directly accessible since 2015. In three hours you can fly to a completely different world with transavia.com. The vast wilderness of northern Europe is completely covered with a thick layer of snow in the winter months. An atmospheric white world with a mysterious light.
When to travel and where to?
To see the Northern Lights in full glory you must be at least above 60 degrees north latitude. Canada and Alaska are suitable, but trips to Iceland or northern Scandinavia, Lapland, are more affordable. From the end of September to the beginning of April there is a chance to see the Northern Lights. The months with the best chance are October, November, February and March. Although there is a chance to see it all day, from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM is the best chance for a great show. Many hotels have an aurora alarm for people who don’t want to wait outside in the cold for a glimpse of the spectacle. There are also apps available for download with an alarm that goes off when there is an increased chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Booking a package tour
To experience a winter adventure, booking a package tour is a good option. There are options to book a husky safari, reindeer tour or snowmobile tour as a day excursion. Along the way there is often lunch with a campfire and you can fully enjoy the beautiful snow-covered surroundings. You can also choose to visit the Sami. They are originally a nomadic people from Lapland. The existence of the Sami has modernized today, but the culture is still visible and tangible. In Scandinavia they are good at keeping roads passable in harsh weather conditions, but if the conditions are very bad, it is useful to call in the help of a tour operator.
Tactics to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights
Just like on a safari in South Africa or bird watching, you have to be lucky. There are things you can take into account to increase your happiness.
- Avoid full moon and go to areas with minimal light pollution of the city. Good weather is crucial but difficult to predict in advance. Locally it can vary a lot, there can be a spectacle of northern lights and a few kilometers away there can be nothing to see due to clouds.
- Go as many nights as possible.
- Use your hotel’s aurora alarm or download an app with an alarm that goes off when there is an increased chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Examples of free applications include Aurora Forecast from Tinac Inc. and Aurora Alert from Eagles Orbit, both available for download for iOS and Android.
What are you taking with you?
Dress in layers, just like if you were going skiing. A hat, gloves, waterproof jacket, thermal underwear and winter shoes. Many hotels lend guests a special thermal suit and shoes. These are suitable for outdoor activities such as snowmobile tours and husky tours. There is no need to purchase any special equipment if you try on a regular size. A driver’s license is required to drive a snowmobile. Photographers need a photo stand and don’t forget the swimwear for the hot tub!