Shimmery and magical, the dance of the Northern Lights are a spectacular sight that is on many bucket lists. Viewing the Aurora Borealis is both a jaw-dropping and mystical experience. So, when and where do you go to see the Northern Lights?
Seen at the magnetic poles, the Northern Lights are created by electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere. The result is a spectacular show of colors from neon green to a fuchsia-purple. Sometimes the Northern Lights looks like a puffy, geometric beam of neon green, while other times, the Aurora Borealis covers most of the sky in an intricate design, with multiple colors bursting out in slow-motioned sparkles.
— RT (@RT_com) April 5, 2016
The best way to view the Northern Lights is travel to where the lights can easily be seen without the interference of city light. The closer you get to the Arctic Circle, the better your odds you will see them.
While the lights can easily be seen in Canada and Alaska, this is a great opportunity to live your inner Viking and visit a more exotic location, such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, or Finland. For example, the Ice Hotel, outside of Kiruna, Sweden, is the original icy hotel experience. Every year, this frozen treasure brings in artists who create original sculptures and rooms that you can sleep in. If you are not interested in staying the night in an ice room, warm cabins are available. Why not stay in at treehotel, in Harrads, Sweden. You can view the Northern Lights from high inside your own unique treehouse room, such a Bird’s Next, UFO, or Mirror Cube.
There are tour companies that can take you “glamping,” or glamorous camping, in the middle of the wilderness and other tours that will go out seeking the Northern Lights, as well as teach you how to take great photos.
— NeverAWastedJourney (@NAW_journey) March 6, 2016
Make sure you mix in some spectacular winter activities to go along with seeing the Northern Lights. Take a snowmobile ride, go out in the deep snow and horseback ride or check off another item on that bucket list and lead a team of energetic huskies on a memorable dogsledding adventure.
Even if the lights do not make an appearance, you will have experienced incredible natural beauty and adventure. Bundle up in warm clothes and boots and walk around your viewing area. Just moving a little bit can make the big difference of seeing nothing and viewing the Northern Lights. Just keep looking up at the sky.
— Alexander Stage (@GoSandgrouse) March 1, 2016
Ideally, the best time to view the Northern Lights is between early September and mid-April, although they can be viewed as early as mid-August. The lights are best seen in the evening between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., although, on occasion they can be viewed earlier in the evening when the sunset is in the early afternoon. The other factor is light pollution of every kind, from street lights, to the full moon. Also, weather can affect viewing the lights. September, October, and November tend to be darker and many areas snowless. For those dreaming of a dramatic white, snowy background, with the Northern Lights dancing overhead, December and January is a great time to see the lights. The long nights add to the splendor of this experience.
In February and March, the days are longer and the weather is warmer, yet still very snowy. During the day, you can enjoy the snow-clad landscapes under the strengthening sunshine, yet in the evening, you get the opportunity to spot and see the Northern Lights. St. Patricks’s Day is often celebrated by the aurora. It is like the sky is celebrating by wearing green!
— inhabitat (@inhabitat) November 7, 2015
Not unexpectedly, there is a lot of folklore surrounding the Northern Lights. For example, they are called guovssahasat, by the Northern Sami people, who believed that a person should be careful and quiet when in the presence of the northern lights. They consider mocking the Northern Lights or singing about them as dangerous to do, as the Northern Lights could use this as a reason for the lights to come down on a person and harm them.
So, when do you plan on finally taking that trip to find and see the Northern Lights and finally checking that off of your bucket list?
[Image by Valeriano Jansson/Permission from Valeriano Jansson Photography]