If everyone shared their top five bucket list destinations, we could easily assume that at least 50% of the nation would have seeing the Northern Lights somewhere on that list – it’s a natural wonder that very few can explain but that many want to experience.
Whether it’s wondering through the hot springs of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, the wild landscapes of the Northwest Territories in Canada or soaking up the sky on a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, seeing the Northern Lights is an experience not to miss. But knowing the best time of year, or even the best time of day, to go and see them can be difficult, so here’s a rundown of some key facts and ideas to get you inspired for your big trip:
1: Winter is the most wonderful time of the year
The Northern Lights are most likely to be seen in the winter months between December and February; the days are short, the nights are long and there will be even more chances to see the natural phenomenon compared to the rest of the year. Aurora Borealis (its official term) can occur at any time of the day but is only visible to us when it is dark, with peak times being between 5pm and 2am throughout the winter – if you’re looking to do a night tour, be prepared to set your alarm!
2: Pack your camera – you’ll want to take some snaps
Not only will your pictures give you everlasting memories of witnessing the sky completely change before your eyes, but a camera will also pick out the colours even more clearly. The human retina does have a limit to how much light can be absorbed, but cameras are more sensitive, especially with the redder lights. Make sure to take plenty of pictures to ensure some incredibly special shots, and a little tip: trial out a few angles with a long-exposure setting.
3: The further north you travel, the more likely you’ll see them
Whilst there have been some rare sightings of the Northern Lights as far as the border between the USA and Mexico, the closer you get to the Arctic, the more opportunities you will have to see them. Places on the Norwegian coast, such as Tromso and Finnsnes, can see the show at least every other night, and in Greenland, the lights are visible almost every night around midnight anywhere in the country.
4: No two nights are the same
If you’re travelling for more than four to five nights, you may see the Northern Lights on multiple occasions, but you won’t see the same show twice. The colours and patterns change every time depending on which gases are involved and how they react with the atmosphere, as well as the altitude, meaning that each sighting is unique. The colours can vary from green to red, pink, yellow and blue.
5: Listen carefully
The Northern Lights are famously known for being a visual experience, but many people aren’t aware that listening in is just as important to get the full effect. On a clear and quiet evening, you can hear faint noises such as claps, static sounds and crackles which can only add to the atmosphere of the event.
Visiting the Arctic Circle and being a part of the magical experience doesn’t just have to be on your own; the are plenty of options available to you to ensure you get the most out of it. For instance, if you’re looking for a more inclusive holiday, why not explore Scandinavia on a Hurtigruten Cruise and share the adventure with friends, old and new? You certainly won’t regret.
If you’re interested in witnessing the Northern Lights this season, now is the perfect time to book with Amity Travel Private Client. Our team of dedicated travel experts are available for one-on-one meetings to make sure you get the best holiday to suit you. To book a trip, call 01489 579975 and all you need to do is sit back and relax.