Nature is a true artist. Its palette has shades that can paint the most beautiful pictures that you can ever witness. Of the many wonders that nature conjures, the Northern Lights are one of the most precious ones.
The Northern Lights is also known as aurora borealis. This is an astronomical phenomenon that produces beautiful curtains or shafts of light that is colorful in the night sky. Witnessing this breathtaking spectacle is an experience that most people cherish for their entire lives.
The Northern Lights, as the name explains, is more prevalent in the regions falling in between the higher latitude. Places near the North Pole like Alaska, Canada and Greenland to name a few, experience this colorful display of lights at night more frequently. Take a more in-depth look into such places favorable for witnessing this amazing natural display of light with the following list.
Iceland is one of the few places where you can witness the aurora borealis. These dancing lights in the night sky can be witnessed from a number of spots that are a short drive away from its capital city Reykjavik. These places include Seltjarnarnes, Perlan, Thingvellir, Threngsli and Vík to name a few.
Being a country near the North Pole, Iceland experiences nearly half a year of light and half a year of darkness. Hence the period from September to April (when it stays dark) is most suitable for your visit. But you must also keep in mind that the stretch from November to February witnesses the harshest weather with extreme cold, rain and snow. This, in turn, could hinder your experience.
Light pollution is a big problem that you could face while spotting the Northern Lights. Hence finding the right place with the optimum amount of darkness is key to watching it. Sometimes these lights are so strong that they light up the sky over the lit-cities as well. But that is rare. This phenomenon usually starts after 6 pm, but it is next to impossible to predict it.
This elusive wonder of nature needs to be chased. So you have to be patient and alert if you wish to witness it. After beating the odds like the timing of the year, rough weather, pollution and city lights, you get the most favorable combination of events to watch the Aurora Borealis. But the beautiful municipality of Tromso in Norway takes care of most of these odds.
It is situated 300 km north of the Arctic Circle. This place has stable weather making it a perfect place to wait for this spectacle to occur. Usually, there are numerous places just outside Tromso that are suitable for getting to experience this, but one of the most breathtaking views can be seen from higher up on the mountain. You can reach a more suitable location by taking the Fjellheisen cable car.
If the weather favors, there are hardly any nights when the Aurora is not visible in Tromso. So if you intend to go to this Norwegian city, you should keep a 3-4 day window to be sure to witness it. Just like Reykjavik, the best time to visit Tromso is from September to April.
A short 4 and a half hour flight from Copenhagen, Denmark takes you to the land where the lights dance like there is no tomorrow – Greenland. There are a number of places in this country from where you can witness the beauty of the Northern Lights, but Ilulissat is an exceptional location for this. This town is situated on the western coast of Greenland and is lined with massive icebergs that give it a transcendental appearance. When you add the mystique of the Northern Lights to this topography, it becomes an experience that you can never forget.
The Inuits in Greenland have a common expression associated with the Aurora. They call it “Arsarnerit”. It means “The ones who play with a ball”. They believe that the appearance of the Northern Lights in the sky means that the souls of the dead people are playing with a ball made of a walrus’ skull. Hence, the locals here whistle at the sky and believe that it will add enthusiasm to the game and brighten the lights. This shows how this wonderful phenomenon has not only influenced travel, exploration and scientific research but also cultures and beliefs. The best time to witness these lights from Ilulissat is September to April when the sky remains dark.
The common things about hunting the Northern Lights in any part of the world is looking for long periods of darkness that will reveal this ethereal marvel. While the other places get to witness this from September to April, the best time to spot the Northern Lights in Yukon, Canada, is from January to mid-April.
As the occurrence of this spectacle is hard to predict, there are some speculations revolving around it. Some say that the coldest nights, especially those of January, are the most favorable for the lights to appear. Others associate its appearance with the equinoxes occurring in September and March.
Yukon has a few of the best spots in Canada to get a glimpse of this astronomical event. The Whitehorse area, Klondike, Campbell and Southern Lakes are some of those places that can let you witness it like no other in the world. Here, the time between 10 pm and 3 am is considered to be a magic window when the lights suddenly explode in bright shades of green, purple and pink.
If you are looking for a sure shot chance to witness the Aurora Borealis, then you must visit Fairbanks in Alaska. This place gives the most reliable chance to experience it. Being situated on the Aurora Belt in Alaska which is said to be the most active in the world, visiting Fairbanks makes for a good opportunity to watch the Northern Lights. This place attracts visitors from around the world. Additionally, this area has lower precipitation as it is far from the coastal areas. This contributes to a clearer sky, which is important for the visual experience. Fairbanks is optimally located under the “Auroral Oval” which is a zone in the shape of a ring. This is situated in the far north and is said to have the highest level of aurora activity.
There are a number of ways in which you can enjoy this natural wonder. You can list the nearby vantage points and drive to those locations. This gives you a beautiful chance to witness the lights on your own if you do not like a crowd. If you are not much of a solo travel type, you can take a tour. The opportunity to watch this from heated “Aurorium’ is quite enjoyable. An Aurorium is a heated cabin that is specially arranged for the event of witnessing Aurora Borealis. Few other unique experiences that you can have here are watching the beautiful lights while riding the dog sledge or enjoying a nice session of ice fishing.
There is another breathtaking way to witness these lights from most of these locations. It is to experience the Northern Lights while flying. Most of the air routes near Iceland and Greenland pass through these active Aurora Regions. There is no fixed time to get to see it. Favorable weather and dark nights can lead to quite a colorful flying experience for you.