When is the best time to see Northern Lights?
The fascinating Northern lights are most likely to be seen above the Arctic Circle in Northern Scandinavia, Finland and all over Iceland during cold winter nights when skies are very clear. The period in which Northern Lights can be seen in the north is approximately from October until the end of March. The greatest frequency is between 6pm and 2am.
What causes Northern Lights?
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. They are attracted by the magnetic North and South Pole and enter the atmosphere in a ring-like zone round the poles. They are known as 'Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south. Most Northern Lights outbursts visible in the Northern hemisphere are green but large outbursts can also include other colors.
How to increase chances of experiencing Northern Lights?
- The best chances of spotting the Northern Lights are away from the lights of cities/towns. An excursion to the countryside is recommendable.
- Allow several nights for Northern Lights observations and plan different kinds of excursions and activities. Booking for example dog sledding or a snowmobile safari in the evening allows you to do something fun while waiting, and it will bring you out into the dark nature.
- Patience and dedication is needed; a cloudy evening can suddenly clear up. The Northern Lights may be visible for a couple of minutes or most of the night.
- Some hotels, for example Harrivniva in Northern Finland and most countryside hotels in Iceland, offer Northern Lights wake-up calls. Please check with reception. Sometimes a fee might apply.
- A cruise along the Northern Norwegian coast also brings you away from disturbing lights. Enjoy the evening sky on deck, cuddled up in a blanket, or on some ships in the outdoor Jacuzzi. The tour leader on board will inform about Northern Lights sightings via the loudspeaker that you can choose to have on in your cabin.
- There are several Northern Lights forecast apps available, for example the NorwayLights app from Visit Norway.
Please note that Northern Lights observations can unfortunately not be guaranteed.