The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a celestial phenomenon that has captivated the hearts and imaginations of people for centuries. These dancing lights in the night sky are a breathtaking display of nature’s beauty. To witness this enchanting spectacle, you need to venture to the right places that offer clear skies, minimal light pollution, and, of course, ideal conditions. Here, we’ll take you on a journey to some of the most captivating locations for aurora hunting.
Tucked away in the heart of Alaska, Fairbanks is a prime destination for aurora enthusiasts. Its unique location directly under the auroral oval ensures a spectacular show on most clear nights from August to April. Beyond the celestial display, you can explore a myriad of activities, such as a ride on the Riverboat Discovery or gold panning. For a magical winter experience, visit the Santa Claus House in the North Pole, just a short drive from Fairbanks. The World Ice Art Championships in February and March, as well as thrilling dog-sledding and snowmobiling tours, complete this winter wonderland.
Perched 220 miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø in Norway provides some of the best opportunities to witness the aurora borealis. With the sun seldom rising during the darkest days of the aurora season, Tromsø offers extended hours for aurora spotting. This vibrant city also boasts the Arctic Cathedral and hosts the Northern Lights Festival, a delightful multiday celebration of music and performing arts from late January to early February.
The northernmost part of Finland, Lapland, is an enchanting land where the northern lights grace the skies approximately 200 times a year between August and April. It’s a place where you can encounter the unique Sámi people and reindeer herds, and even meet Santa Claus himself in Rovaniemi. A bucket-list experience awaits at Santa’s Hotel Aurora in Luosto, where you can marvel at the spectacle from a cozy glass igloo. The hilly landscapes of Pyhä-Luosto National Park create a mesmerizing backdrop for your aurora adventure.
For those who want to witness the northern lights in the UK, the Orkney Islands are a hidden gem. During the fall and winter, the “Mirrie Dancers” light up the night sky, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle. Enjoy the aurora along the coast at Birsay or on Dingieshowe Beach, and take in the stunning coastal landscapes. Orkney also offers a journey back in time, with the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring ancient monuments dating back 5,000 years.
Located 125 miles above the Arctic Circle, the small Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi offers an ideal setting for northern lights enthusiasts. Visit the world’s first permanent ice hotel, the Icehotel 365, for an unforgettable overnight experience. The artist-designed ice suites, reindeer hides, and thermal sleeping bags keep you cozy as you await the aurora. Explore the village’s historic origins and embark on a guided northern lights tour by snowmobile or a moose safari on an Icelandic horse.
Greenland might not be the most accessible destination, but it’s worth the effort for an incredible aurora experience. The tundra of Kalaallit Nunaat, which covers 80 percent of the country, offers stunning views of the northern lights from September to early April. For adventurous souls, venture to the top of the Greenland Ice Cap for a breathtaking perspective. Kangerlussuaq, a former U.S. Air Force base turned gateway to Greenland, provides the perfect starting point for this remarkable journey.
In these remarkable locations, the northern lights take center stage, painting the night sky with vivid colors and leaving visitors in awe of nature’s beauty. So, pack your warmest clothes, charge your camera, and embark on an unforgettable adventure to witness the mesmerizing aurora borealis. Each destination offers not only the chance to see the lights but also unique experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss your chance to chase the northern lights; they are waiting to dance across the skies in these remarkable corners of the world.