=The enchanting sight of the Northern Lights graces the bucket lists of travellers all over the globe; thanks to its distinguished reputation as the greatest light show on earth. This mesmerising natural phenomenon, also known as the Aurora Borealis; offers a spectacle of coloured light dancing across the night sky in certain parts of the world. Sometimes the Aurora just reveals itself as a whimsical flicker of green or pink whilst at other times the light is akin to flames dancing in the heavens. It’s certainly an event worth writing home about.
What are the Northern Lights?
The shimmering colours may look like pure magic, but they can, of course, be explained by science. As electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the gaseous particles contained in the earth’s atmosphere; they produce the effect of bright coloured lights strobing the sky. The different colours you might be lucky enough to witness wholly depends on the type of gas particles that are colliding. Oxygen molecules produce the most common Aurora colour – a greenish, other-worldly glow. Nitrogen particles are likely to result in a purple-tinted glimmer of light.
As well as its beauty; one of the reasons travellers set off to chase the Northern Lights is its elusive quality. There is no definitive schedule for Aurora sightings and most tours will caution visitors with the caveat that there is no guarantee that the light show will take place. The Aurora may not dance on demand, but that just means when it does occur; it makes the sighting all the more special.
When and where to see the Northern Lights
Of course, there are a few things you can do to heighten your chances of seeing the Aurora in action and top of that list is travelling at the right time of year to the right place. You’ll want to pack a few woolly jumpers mind, as the most reliable places to see the Northern Lights in all their celestial glory are located in destinations which make the mercury drop. Not only are the countries cold anyway but the Aurora is most likely to make an appearance during the winter. Although the lights are often seen from late September through to early April, the peak seasons for viewings are from October to November and February to March.
Popular destinations to grab a glimpse of the Aurora include Iceland, Lapland and Norway. The wintry wilds of Canada and Alaska offer some excellent sightings too. The better views occur the further north you travel which might explain why the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, is one of the best-known destinations to see the lights. At some times of year the hours of darkness outnumber the light, so the Aurora could be spotted at any moment. However, it is thought that the hours of 9pm through to 2am are the best viewing times.
What else is there to do?
Choosing the destination for your Northern Lights experience is likely to depend on budget; time and what you want to do for fun once you get there. Although the Aurora might be the priority. There will be times when you are ready to stop staring at the night sky and see what else your location of choice has on offer.
Fortunately, these winter wonderland destinations offer a variety of memorable experiences and activities to keep you entertained. From the geothermal pools and hip galleries of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, to the legendary ice hotel of Swedish Lapland, there are attractions that will appeal to a city slicker, whilst nature lovers might want to try their hand at husky dog sledding or snow-mobiling across the glittering white landscapes.
When you make the decision about the type of Northern Lights experience that will best suit you; you’ll want to book the right travel insurance for your trip. Be sure to check your policy carefully as some winter sports require an additional level of cover. It may not be the most exciting part of planning your trip but ensuring you and your loved ones are covered is one of the most important.
If you’re planning a trip to view the Northern Lights don’t forget to arrange travel insurance before you depart.