Visit The Northern Lights
Envisage yourself standing on an icy lagoon, the wind whistles in the trees, an open expanse lies before you, nothing but darkness. Suddenly, a green flash of light crashes into view and skips across the night sky. A dream comes true. Another tick on the bucket list. The Northern Lights!
The out-of-this-world aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, is a multicoloured, dancing light show that takes place in the northern reaches of our planet. Named by the French astronomer Pierre Gassendi, it comes from Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and boreas, the Greek word for the north wind. There are a few different stories that can explain The Northern Lights and I’ll let you decide which to believe.
A personal favourite is from the Estonian ancestors who believed that the lights are majestic horse-drawn carriages taking divine guests to a dazzling heavenly wedding. In more recent years scientists have come up with an alternative story. They say the lights appear when the sun emits tiny particles and hits the earth's atmosphere. These tiny particles give off some of their energy to molecules and atoms of gases located in the uppermost atmosphere. However, these atoms and molecules are unable to hold this energy. Quickly, they release the energy and the tiny electrons mix with gases in the atmosphere. This creates amazing colours that appear in great ribbons of constant flowing movement.
The Northern Lights isn’t just a light show but also one of sound. If you’re in a quiet enough location, you will be able to hear claps, crackles and static emitting from the aurora-lit skies. The unstable essence of the Northern Lights means that it retains its esoteric allure. In other words, it can be unpredictable. So, if a sighting is on your must-do list, you’ll need to plan your timing and location well. For the best seats in the house, you must consider locations with a latitude above 55 degrees and low light pollution levels.
Iceland, and the neighbouring Nordic countries along with Alaska and the northern reaches of Canada are places to consider. Even without the Northern Lights, Iceland has so much to offer. It’s a nature lovers wonderland that boasts volcanic landscapes, awe-inspiring waterfalls and geothermal springs. Vast swathes of the country provide viewpoints for the Northern Lights due to its optimal latitude and longitude. Going on your own in a campervan and pitching a tent each night can be an adventurous way to chase the Northern Lights. But more popular are Northern Lights tours, which are the preeminent way to witness the aurora borealis while you’re in Iceland. All over the country, travellers can take in the dancing sky from outdoor hot tubs, natural hot springs and remote lodges. The perfect gift for the intrepid traveller making the journey to Iceland is the Northern Lights by Boat experience.
Alaska, the largest and most northerly state in America, is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights. The whole country offers the clear skies and dark nights you need. Stunning mountainous landscapes make it a beautiful place to visit anytime of year but the winter months provide long nights which ultimately aid your chances of a sighting. We suggest Fairbanks, located in the aurora oval, as the perfect central location to hunt the Northern Lights. If you, a friend or family member is heading to Alaska, the Aurora Viewing Tour departs from Fairbanks and takes you up to the mountain ridge. The perfect location to sit back, relax and gaze in awe. What an incredible gift that would be!
The northern regions of Canada also give visitors the chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. In particular, Yellowknife nestled next to the Great Slave Lake even has its own aurora village. The Yellowknife Aurora Hunting Tour offers the complete package for those of you heading to experience the Northern Lights. A three-night guided aurora hunting experience means you’ll be taken to the best viewing spots. You will also be shown how to take those notoriously difficult aurora photos so your memories can last a lifetime. This is the ultimate Northern Lights experience, gift yourself, you deserve it.
Other notable locations that you can experience the Northern Lights include Tromosø in Norway, the largest urban area in the remote north of the country. As well as the Northern Lights, Norway boasts breathtaking fjords, excellent fishing and friendly locals.
In Finland, you can watch aurora borealis from purpose-built glass igloos to really get that authentic Scandanavian experience. Southern areas of Greenland provide a much less touristy option than its neighbour Iceland if you desire quieter experience. In your pursuit of the Northern Lights, it is imperative to go at the right time. The experts recommend from Winter to Spring - between December and April. But it is worth checking on exactly when the optimal viewing time is for the particular location you’re looking into. Expect to stay up late to, it may be well past your bedtime before those lights start dancing!
The best time to catch the Northern Lights is between 10 pm and 2 am. Due to its unpredictable nature, the Northern Lights is easy to miss. This is a situation we want to avoid and don’t want you to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best way to increase your chances is by going with the experts on a guided tour. Gifting Owl offers a wide range of Northern Lights experience gifts, in a variety of locations to ensure you or someone you love has the best chance to experience Mother Nature on show.
The Northern Lights is transcendental when it comes to experiences, it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that cannot be missed. If you want to give a gift that will create enduring memories, then a Northern Lights experience has to be top of the list.