Knowing how unpredictable Mother Nature can be, I tried hard not to get too excited about the possibility of seeing the aurora borealis, or northern lights, in Finnish Lapland. “Focus on the destination,” I kept telling myself, but my inner nerd kept screaming, “But how cool would it be to see charged particles from the sun knocking into the Earth’s atmosphere!”
I had chosen Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort at the edge of the wilderness near the Urho Kekkonen National Park. The indigenous Sami people, known for their connection to the land, have lived here for over a century, but this majestic expanse of unspoilt wilderness is also home to some wildlife I hoped to spot: bears, wolverines, golden eagles and reindeer. With the added attraction of snowmobiling, reindeer safaris, huskies, ice-fishing and a multitude of other activities, the chances of a brilliant time regardless of northern lights-spotting was pretty much guaranteed.
Of course, I was secretly hopeful the long winter season, virtually no light pollution and the Aurora app on my phone would also come to the party and make my visit complete. The Arctic resort itself is a delight, with a range of accommodation choices including some rather incredible glass igloos. I figured the glass ceiling would maximise my chances of spotting the result of a solar wind whooshing charged electrons and protons from the sun straight towards Earth.
Chatting with reindeer herders, horse trekking through the snow, sledding with huskies and snowmobile adventures along with the enigmatic blue light of the winter twilight, delightful locals, good food and cosy atmosphere made for an unforgettable stay. Was the inner nerd silenced? Of course, she was, and it was utter magic!
Finland it isn’t the only place to see the world’s greatest lightshow.A visit to Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, or Alaska will delight.Choose from traditional chalets, igloos and of course the famous ice hotels which are carefully reconstructed every year. We always suggest you spend two or three nights at your chosen destination to increase your chances of experiencing this phenomenon first-hand.
Sweden offers visitors an incredible aurora experience, especially in Abisko National Park which is located 195km inside the Arctic Circle.
For an overnight stay in one of the world’s northern most ice hotels, head to Alta in Norway, also known as ‘The City of the Northern Lights’.
Take a cruise with Quark Expeditions, first flying into Greenland from Reykjavik then cruising around the world’s largest fjord system with the possibility of viewing some of the world’s most vivid displays of the northern lights.
Canada’s Northwest Territories is known as the ‘Aurora Capital of the World’, and Yellowknife is directly beneath the aurora oval.Take a snowmobile out into the wilderness for the best views.
Alaska offers some fantastic lodges which specialise in aurora viewing – try Chena Hot Springs Resort, and visit the local Aurora Ice Museum, actually built from over 1,000 tons of ice!