Watching the Northern Lights pop across the nights sky is a truly unforgettable experience, but one that depends on timing. In truth, if you’re a tourist with limited time to explore you should plan your trip during the winter months. The Northern Lights appear at their brightest on the dark nights from September to March, and lucky star-gazers who visit at this time can witness anything from an enchanting green glow to crystal blue streaks across the sky. This magical show is found in Russia as well as Canada, Alaska and even Scotland.
So how can you maximise your changes of seeing this spectacular light display, and can you plan your trip ahead of time? Here at Executive Lounges we bring you the ultimate travellers’ guide to the Northern Lights with particular reference to the places you can visit along the way.
What are the Northern Lights?
When out in full force, they are absolutely breath-taking. There’s something about the bright, colourful lights that makes it no wonder they attract thousands of tourists each year. We look up, take in the sights but just what causes the natural phenomena that is the Northern Lights? Our sun is 93 million miles away, but its effects are present far beyond its visible surface. The sun is witness to great storms that send gusts of solar particles hurtling across space. If the Earth crosses this particle stream, our planets magnetic field draws in atoms and molecules to the Earth’s surface. This process creates the most beautiful aurora, the Northern lights.
Where to see the Northern Lights?
If you want visit the capital of the Northern Lights, Canada is the place to go. There are countless viewing points across the country trodden by adventure seeking tourists. Perhaps the most popular Northern Lights tourism destination is Yellowknife, Northern Territories. This village is not only directly below the auroral oval, but is set on flat ground with undisturbed views of the displays above.
The snowy wilderness that is Alaska casts an eerie glow beneath the Northern Lights, and the further you venture out of the cities the brighter the lights seem to shine. As you’d expect there are various destinations across the country that offer a near perfect view of the lights. The most popular viewing point is found in Fairbanks, and for good reason. This location is situated within a ring shaped region around the North Pole called the Auroral Oval. It offers the perfect balance of frequency, consistency and visibility with clear skies up above setting the stage for the mysterious multi-coloured lights.
The natural wonder that is the Northern Lights can be found in all corners of the globe, but for something a little closer to home why not travel to the countryside location of Scotland. The Loch Ness Monster is by far Scotland’s most elusive mystery, however the Northern Lights - the bursts of multi-coloured lights swirling across the sky - is the most historical mystery of all. There is something magical about sitting on the moors, wrapped in a blanket, huddled together as you look up at the skies. The lights can be seen from just about anywhere in Scotland where light pollution is at a minimum and conditions are just right.
It’s not the most visited Northern lights destination, but if you want the wilderness to yourself, with nothing but an endless stretch of countryside on your side, there’s no place better. You can escape the tourist traps in favour of a more relaxed setting. There are many myths and legends surrounding the Northern Lights, two main stories being the Russian Saami tribes, who believe the lights reflect the souls of their fallen ancestors, and the ancient Greek myth involving Helios and Aurora.
Have you seen the Northern Lights? If so, share your experiences via our Facebook and let us know your thoughts on the world’s most impressive natural light show.