Hunting the northern lights

By | Category: Travel destinations

the lights from Luleå

“They” say that this winter could be one of the best for seeing the northern lights. Quite who “they” are never seems quite clear as I’m sure last year’s winter was supposed to be one of the best. And the year before that.

Where to go to see the best display is also up for grabs. One thing everybody is agreed on is that you need somewhere where there is little light pollution. You don’t want big cities; you don’t even want large towns; you want as little light as possible.

From Visit Norway comes a handy little app called Norway Lights which claims to show you where the best display is likely to be found. It is not guaranteed however but is based on weather predictions and whether likely conditions prevail to see the lights. It is free and therefore worth downloading if you have decided this is the year you are going to see the lights but not yet decided the place to see them. Two years ago I caught the ferry up to Kirkenes and saw them for a night or two on the voyage

Per-Arne Tuftin, Director of Tourism at Innovation Norway (the Norwegian tourist board) says ‘Norway is in the centre of the northern lights zone, so the probability of seeing the lights are very likely on any cloud-free night between October and March. Though the northern lights are visible in other countries, Northern Norway’s easy accessibility and optimal conditions make it one of the best places on Earth to see them’

Bit in the Swedish city of Luleå, they have already seen the lights so maybe you should consider northern Sweden as the place to go. Incidentally, if you go there after December 28th another attraction awaits you. On that day an igloo-style music concert hall will open to visitors. Made entirely of ice, the concert hall will seat 160 people, and will feature highly specialised musical ICEstruments, made, as you might suspect, of ice. Concerts will be held three nights per week.

Iceland claims to be the place where you can get the best views but then Canada claims the same. Sodanklya in northern Finland is claimed to be one of the most likely viewing spots. For the truly adventurous though, try northern Russia and in particular a place called Tiksi It has vicious winters and is very expensive compared to other Russian places but, out of the town, you should stand a fighting chance of seeing the lights. And you’ll have an adventure just getting there.

Image © Graeme Richardson/ Visit Luleå

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