Subscribe iStudy iGap

The Northern Lights

By Mark Johnson

Posted: 11th September 2012 12:38

Also known as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are one of nature’s most spectacular displays; a mysterious, multicoloured light display captivates you as the night sky brightens up with a magnificent and fascinating glow that twists and swirls in a heavenly and mesmerising manner.  A beautiful shifting dance of colourful rainbows that is highly humbling and spiritually uplifting.  Elusive and ethereal, it is one of the greatest and timeless thrills of travel. 

Scotland

Scotland is a sensational place to watch the Northern Lights, especially if you live in the United Kingdom.  Being in the heart of nature’s very own spectacular display has never been simpler with flights from major cities.  You can also enjoy a road trip and stop of at fantastic cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh along the way and experience their fascinating lifestyles, attractions and heritage. 

On a clear night in most places of Northern Scotland like Thurso, Inverness and the Orkney Islands, stargazers will have a wealth of entertainment.  Spend the day exploring the blue sea on the golden sandy beaches and scenic town of Thurso and get an astonishing view of nature’s unique beauty.  Or see the Northern lights from Scotland’s primary city, Inverness where highlands give magnificent views of Scottish countryside and you can take a refreshing stroll along the River Ness at the Northern end of the Great Glen.  The natural beauty of OrkneyIslands, with their spectacular coastline, stunning cliffs and beautiful countryside make for an extraordinary backdrop to view the Northern Lights, known locally as ‘The Merry Dancers’. 

Sweden

Björkliden is recognised as one of the world’s finest locations to feast your eyes on awe inspiring Northern Lights.  Björkliden is based in the high Swedish mountains, which means you are bound to get a clear front row seat.  The journey through the mountains is an experience in itself.  Indulge in the wonderful culture Sweden has to offer in the beautiful and habitual villages of Abiska and Abisko.  See the exclusive vistas of the clearTornetask Lake and the huge natural door that paves the way to the mountains, Lapporten

Taking a guided tour of Björkliden or through the mountains is a certain way to not miss any of the action and meet other travellers.  Some companies even offer them on huskies so you can glide through the winter wonderland.  Björkliden is a spectacular city to indulge and fulfil all your imaginations of the Northern lights and a winter wonderland.   

Norway

Tromso and Finmark in Norway are hotspots to enjoy the Northern Lights.  See one of nature’s finest beauties swirl and twirl through the sky forming an array of vibrant lights; highlighting warm and golden colours.  Not to mention you will be cosy on a clear mountain top, whilst you wait for the lights show to start.  You can even taste some tasty drinks and delicious food along with an open fire.  Then, star gaze either on the snow or comfortable chairs and be amazed. 

For over twenty years, Tromso has been blessed with the Northern Lights Festival; a musical extravaganza.  Each year offers top artists from a wide variety of genres ranging from contemporary and opera to jazz.  Be sure not to miss this exciting event at the end of January, dates are still to be announced. 

Whilst in Norway why not take part in fantastic daytime activities? Let your adventurous side out as you fully embrace the Norwegian mountain scenery and fascinating wildlife through a snowmobile safari.  Alternatively you can go horse riding with a highly trained instructor or indulge your taste buds in an array of the finest wines Norway has to offer.  Your time in Norway is certain to be highly entertaining, fun and educational.

Finland

Take the beautiful journey to the Aurora Chalet in Luosto in Northern Finland where, upon arrival, you’ll be handed an "Aurora Alarm" which beeps once Northern Lights appear; so you will not miss a moment of the stunning action.  Lake Inari is also radiant are to observe the Northern Lights.  Here you will be able to catch a glimpse of magical lights in the sky as well as in the smooth reflections of the clear water.  As you wait to be dazzled by the display, cosy up next to a campfire with a hot drink and hearty food; maybe even share stories of the wonderful adventures on your travels.

Taking a tour to the Northern lights is a fantastic and exclusive opportunity.  Take home a camera full of memories as you travel through the traditional and unique countryside of Finland.  You can even visit the world famous Santa Claus Village and fall in love with the culturally rich city of Rovaniemi.  As night falls embark on a wildlife snowmobile safari across the Wild Tundra where the floras and vast mountain scenery give a perfect backdrop as you catch a glimpse of an abundance of local animals in their natural habitat.  Many tour companies offer cruises where you can breathe in the fresh air as you cruise through a world of snowy mountains and the clear blue Gulf of Bothnia.  These are vistas you won’t see anywhere else in the world and is a holiday to write home about. 

Greenland

Greenland still remains the final frontier for the average traveller and is still fairly unexplored by those from other countries; making it more exclusive to you.  The South boasts of having fantastic viewing spots for the spectacular Northern Lights display. 

Imagine being in the vast shores of the Fjord where you can taste the fresh air and the picturesque icebergs swiftly move in the cool water, then you look up the see the night  sky pierced with millions of stars with a glimmer of the moon.  Suddenly a greenish light appears resembling a cloud lit by the moonlight.  Then the display beings to intensify with a magical blend of colours from the rainbow and before long you are swept up in the beauty of the vibrant movements of the Northern Lights.  The display moves and changes with surprising speed forming captivating whirlpools and beams that merge and intensify, then you want to relive the magic all over again.

Greenland is a must see place to take in the Northern Lights and the striking white mountain scenery amongst the water provides a stunning backdrop.   

It is no wonder people travel hundreds of miles to seem the Northern Lights.  Pictures of the simply don’t do the sensational act of nature justice.  So go between 2012 and 2013 when you can fully appreciate the wonders of the Northern Lights in its peak.   

Overall

This rare and beautiful display of nature can be witnessed in Northern Europe and can at any moment from late September to early April, 9pm to 2am tends to be prime viewing time.  It is delightful how often the lights reveal themselves just as dinner is served or when you’re in the beautiful vistas of a European countryside or mountains.  The strength of auroral activity runs in 11 year cycles; 2012/13 just happens to be a peak moment known as “Solar Maximum”, with experts predicting plentiful and spectacular displays.  If you have always wanted to see the northern lights, this is undoubtedly the time so we have chosen the most outstanding destinations in Europe to embrace this fantastic experience.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up here and get the latest news and updates delivered directly to your inbox

You can unsubscribe at any time