• Ray Vüilsen

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights? Three tips to make it a memorable experience

Updated: May 23, 2020

The Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis) are one of the most fascinating and surreal phenomena nature has to offer. But first things first. If somebody guarantees you will see the lights, think twice about it. Nobody knows exactly when and where they will show up and this is part of their magic. Of course, there is forecasting technology that will give you an idea on your chances, but we are still far from predicting them with 100% accuracy.

The best way to maximize your chances is to be at the right place at the right time. The closer to the belt around the magnetic North Pole and the darkest, the better. But other factors come into play: weather and accessibility.

You might have a magnificent Northern Lights show going on but, if you are on a cloudy night, chances are that you won't even notice! Aurora hunting also requires patience and sitting outside for a while. If temperatures are too low you won't last long and it will be a painful experience.

Accessibility is also a must. The closer to the belt around the pole the better, right, but you want to be able to reach that place in an easy and affordable way. If, on top of this, you choose an area with beautiful landscapes, you will have the perfect combination.

This is why the best time to see the Northern lights is Spring and Autumn. Weather is still not too cold, nights are long enough to enjoy dark skies and, with a bit of luck, weather might clear up.

My favorite location is Lapland (northern Norway) because you also get some of the most dramatic Arctic scenery, incredibly tasty fish and many outdoor activities such as hiking or ski touring. And we are going there twice a year! Check out my Ski Photo Retreat in March (Lofoten, Sortland, Senja or Lyngen Alps) and the Aurora Photo Retreat in September (Lyngen Alps).

Finally, let me give you three tips to make your Northern Lights trip a memorable experience:

  1. Choose carefully your destination and dates based on the above.

  2. Prepare for cold weather and be patient.

  3. And most importantly... have no expectations!

At the end of the day, even if you don't see the lights you will have a perfect excuse to visit again the incredible Arctic circle. What would be the magic if they were guaranteed without any effort?

Comment below on your Aurora hunting experiences, thoughts or questions!


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