One of the most frequent questions the Transun team get asked is one that’s unfortunately quite difficult to answer: When is the best time to visit Lapland to see the Northern Lights? It is the $64,000 question when visiting the Arctic Circle, as everyone who travels there wants to give themselves the best chance of glimpsing the famous Aurora Borealis.
There are two things which obscure a good view of the lights- cloud and light pollution. Transun travel to a very remote, rural village called Karesuando on the border of Sweden and Finland deep in the Arctic Circle which has very little light pollution. Just a short walk from your accommodation you can be in pitch darkness (pack a torch!) which will increase your chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. Staying overnight in an igloo or on a wilderness safari also gets you away from any artificial light, increasing your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. Our Northern Lights itinerary takes you on an after-dark snowmobile safari and forest trek, taking you to stunning vantage points with breathtaking views over the frozen landscape.
In terms of which month to pick, the lights are generally viewed from September to March when the nights are long and the sky is dark. The aurora is at its most active around the equinoxes in March and September, however if you want to travel in September remember there won’t be any snow yet! Transun tours star in November, when the snow has fallen and the landscape is transformed into stunning wintery glory. It is a myth that the lights come out the colder it gets. However, there are less likely to be clouds obscuring the view when the temperatures drop. You can view our climate information here. Another myth to debunk is that the waxing and waning of the moon makes a difference to the northern lights. Whilst a full moon does lighten the sky, and therefore possibly reduce the visual intensity of a display, the northern lights can be seen at all stages of the moon’s cycle.
In terms of timings, the lights are most commonly seen between 17.00 and 02.00 but can be seen any time when the sky is dark. They don’t usually exhibit for long – they may only show for a few minutes, then glide away before returning. A good display may last for no longer than half an hour, though, if you’re really lucky, it could extend to a couple of hours or longer with the lights appearing to ‘dance’ across the sky. When you’re travelling with Transun we will wake you up (at your request!) if the lights make an appearance after bedtime. On many occasions you can even view the lights from your bedroom window. Read the Newcastle Chronicle’s recent review of the Northern Lights tour here. Book your holiday with Transun in confidence that we will do our very best to optimise your chances to see the Northern Lights.
The lights are a very special natural phenomenon. Despite the advice I’ve given above, I saw the lights in Karesuando when it was still dusk and the sky was partly cloudy which just goes to show there is an element of luck involved too. Did you get lucky and see the lights on your Arctic trip? Let us know…