Winter is coming – the Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, is one of the greatest earthly phenomena and with increasingly spectacular skies over the last few years we have been building up to the peak of the activity cycle – the Solar Maximum. This was predicted to be this autumn (2013) and according to NASA there is now likely to be a second peak in winter 2015. I am not sure if there was a peak when I first saw the northern lights but they really were one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen and I would jump at the chance to enjoy them again.

You need clear skies and no light pollution to get the best viewings – luckily I was far north in Lapland so the latter was not a problem. The other key factor was local knowledge and this bit really struck me as everyone there wanted to see them as well and the discussions the next day about the previous night’s viewings were really not that different to those concerning an England football match or Strictly programme in the UK. The locals were keen as mustard and I had no hesitation to  frequently head out into the deep snow and sub-freezing conditions whenever there was a good show on.

Trying to describe the lights is the most difficult bit. To me they danced across the sky with a mixture of greens and yellows however there were also other hues and they never followed the same pattern twice – a bit like a flame. The impression I came away with was of a curtain being drawn backwards and forwards across the sky at different speeds.

There are lots of ways to see the lights and they cannot be guaranteed but basically if you have a few winter nights based in a rural area of northern Scandinavia, above the Arctic Circle, with some good local advice then you will have a pretty reasonable chance – I remember being told on arrival we had an 80% likelihood over 4 nights which were odds I fancied. There are tons of other things to do to make an amazing holiday for both adults and children. Anytime over the winter is good, the later you leave it the longer the days/more daylight for when you are not Aurora spotting.

As always the flights and best accommodation gets booked up over Christmas, probably due to Santa and his extra helpers flying in, so book early for this period. Speak to us here at Putney Travel about holidays to see the Northern Lights or travel to Lapland.

There is some excellent information here from the Norwegian Tourist Board and a stunning video from Finland.

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