Northern Lights Tours
Seeing the Northern lights is firmly on many travellers bucket list. Never guaranteed, seeing the Aurora lights require careful planning and positioning which adds to the thrill of ticking the spectacle off the list.
The Northern lights tours typically take place above the Arctic Circle across the 50 Degrees North region. Flying in the Nordic region during winter is safe and convenient. Winter conditions do not prevent the ability to fly or land. As winter conditions in the far north are nothing unusual airports are well prepared, and de-icing equipment is readily available. The industry is well regulated, planes safe and pilots very experienced in flying in all weather. There is no airport in Scandinavia without a convenient public transport connection to the nearest city.
Northern lights tours operate between August to April in some of our regions, however, most of the tours offered are from November until April when it is darker and colder in the region.
Doing a Northern lights tour has been exceptionally popular recently with the Solar Maximum producing the some of the most intense displays in over a decade. We suggest booking at least three to six months earlier to secure the best the region has to offer. Many of the hotels in the region have built new facilities designed specifically with viewing the Northern lights in mind such as the Glass Igloos in Kakslauttanen, Glass Igloos in Levi, the Aurora domes near Harriniva and the new chalets in Kirkenes.
There are a variety of different options to see the Northern lights within a tailor made Aurora lights tour. If you want to do a Northern lights tour in Norway, you can base yourself in one of the cities above the Arctic Circle and join evening trips that search for the Northern lights. Typically, the drivers and guides will research the weather forecast and the Aurora prediction websites each evening and drive to the area most likely to show the aurora. A warm van, hot chocolates and sometimes an open fire, will keep you happy and cozy during the search.
Adventure tour options such as skidoo trips and reindeer sledding tours, which incorporate a Northern lights search, are also offered in most of our winter locations.
Our region also offers many accommodation options designed to provide you comfortable ways to see the Northern lights. Positioned high up on a mountain in Sweden, the Abisko Aurora Sky station offers a viewing area and museum combined with a restaurant to enjoy at the same time.
Likewise, the patio and Jacuzzi at Lyngen Lodge, Norway or the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyage deck and jacuzzi offer a great ‘bucket list’ spot to see the lights. Similarly, perch yourself on a bar stool in the ION hotel in Iceland.
This fabulous architecturally designed country hotel with huge foyer windows is a dramatic place to witness the Northern lights spectacle away from artificial light.
We offer several small group tours designed to see the Northern lights. Our Arctic Light & Hurtigruten - Escorted Tour is a small group tour through Scandinavian winter that spends 14 days enjoying a Norwegian Coastal Voyage & stays in Glass Igloos in Finland. We will take you snow mobile riding, dog mushing and reindeer sledding; all under the spectacle of the Northern lights (fingers crossed).
This Hurtigruten voyage and tour, Arctic Light and Hurtigruten tour, runs twice a year in January and is exclusive to 50 Degrees North. One of our Scandinavian staff will host this journey, taking care of all services throughout the tour program and providing insight into the local culture and history.
There is two kind of Northern lights prediction: statistical and real-time ones. The former are based on a large amount of observations of Northern lights at different latitudes during several years. From these statistics we can say what is the probability of the occurrence of Northern lights during the course of year.
According to the statistics compiled by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, four nights out of five are illuminated by Northern lights in Northern Lapland (Kilpisjärvi-Utsjoki area) providing that the sky is free enough from clouds. On the coast of the Arctic Ocean in North Norway (e.g. in Tromsö) one can see Northern lights almost every night. Even in South Finland, say Helsinki, one can see them but much more seldom; in Helsinki only one night out of 20.
Remember, the occurrence of auroras depends on the latitude and be sure to look Northwards for the lights. We always suggest staying in the Aurora Zone long enough for storms (i.e clouds) to pass and just in case you haven't realised, during summer months you cannot see any aurora due to light nights (up to 24 hrs Midnight Sun). Generally, the best time to see auroras is between 9 p.m. - 1 a.m. local time.
NOTE: The auroras come in lots of different shades and strengths. Some nights, you will be dazzled by brilliant lights whilst other nights, it is a dull hazy green, hard to see and rather vague. Fingers crossed for one of the magical nights!!
When the Earth's magnetic field is very disturbed, the auroras can spread all over Europe for a couple of hours.
To get technical, the latter predictions are based on a space-weather monitoring system either by ground-based devices or satellites watching the space-weather conditions around the Earth. When the monitoring devices (e.g., magnetometers or particle detectors in a satellite) show certain deviations from the normal situation, one can expect that a space weather storm is approaching in a few hours.
The skill of real-time predictions is, unfortunately, rather low; we cannot make predictions for several days like forecasting normal weather. The reason for this shortcoming is that we do not fully understand the complicated processes, starting from the Sun and ending in the near-space of the Earth, involved in the cosmic ignition of the Northern lights. Therefore, more space-research is needed for better forecasts. For further information about the Northern Lights, refer to this Spaceweather website.