Featuring on the bucket lists of people across the globe, the Northern Lights is one of those things that, once seen, you’ll never forget. An elusive natural phenomenon that is steeped in local legend, where a good ‘show’ depends mostly on luck. We’ve found some stylish ways for you to see the Northern Lights.
Aurora hunting in style in Abisko
If you’ve never seen the Northern Lights, you probably won’t know what you’re looking for. Hence it’s best to book a guided tour so an expert can show you the best vantage points. For that added touch of luxury, Aurora Nights offers a stunning seven-night tour of Swedish Lapland which takes guests to the famous Aurora Sky Station in Abisko.
The Sky Station is a renowned viewing location and Abisko. Due to its unique geographical situation, it enjoys Northern Lights activity around 80 per cent of the time. This is where to stay to maximise your chances of seeing those Lights. The following night’s Aurora hunting is led by professional photographers, who can help you capture the Northern Lights on camera.
The tour encompasses overnight accommodation at the famous Tree Hotel, the Aurora Camp (for glamping, Arctic style) and the incredible Ice Hotel. Other highlights include a husky safari, learning about traditional Sami culture and dining on some of the country’s best dishes.
Watch from the skies
If facing the ice and snow doesn’t appeal, then a Northern Lights flight might be perfect. Sit back, relax and watch out for those dancing illuminations from the warmth and comfort of a chartered aircraft. Aurora Flights, operating through Omega, offers three-hour trips from most major UK airports, dimming the cabin lights so that passengers have the best possible view.
The flights head north over the Shetland Isles and towards Icelandic airspace. Being airborne, you will be positioned close to where the Aurora usually occurs; you’ll be above the clouds, too, so there should be no obstructions, unlike when viewing the lights from the ground.
In a darkened cabin, you’ll have the chance to see the night sky without any light pollution. On board the flight is an astronomer who can talk you through the myriad constellations, pointing out the Milky Way. Flights depart between November and March from various UK airports.
The speed of light
For an authentic local Northen Lights experience, reach the best viewing spots in Norway via snowmobile.
Renowned ‘expedition voyage operator’ Hurtigruten runs an incredible tour into the polar night, where guests visit the Norwegian fishing village of Kjøllfjord, collect their snowmobiles and enjoy a breath-taking 2.5-hour drive through stunning scenery, under endless, starlit skies.
Led by experienced instructors, you’ll stop for an arctic bonfire en route, then continue on your speedy vehicle, through the snowy valleys. All things being well, your journey will culminate in more than just a glimpse of the mesmerising Northern Lights.
Watch the performance through a cosy bubble
If you’d rather stay warm and cosy, try an Aurora Bubble. Unlike anything else, the bubbles at the Wilderness Hotel in Nellim, Finland, are rooms with a domed, glass roof through which you can see nature’s greatest light show.
Outside, the mercury might languish around the minus figures, but inside your bubble – which sleeps two people – the temperature is balmy. You can lie back and enjoy the Lights without freezing off your extremities. The hotel itself offers luxurious, rustic log cabins which ooze romance, should you wish to extend your stay beyond a night in the bubble.
Be awed in the hot springs
Scandinavia doesn’t have exclusivity over the Northern Lights. North America possesses some great places. Fairbanks in Alaska is one of them. What could be more indulgent than making your Aurora dream come true from a hot spring? The Chena Hot Springs Resort is a geothermal area that comprises outdoor tubs, a ‘Rock Lake’, Jacuzzis and a family pool.
Image by Frank K. from Anchorage, Alaska, USA (The Rock Pool at Chena Hot Springs) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The outdoor Rock Lake is open from 7am until midnight. Alternatively, the resort offers a variety of Aurora packages that encompass a visit to the swanky Aurora Ice Museum, with its fantastic bar, great food and accommodation. Watch the Aurora Borealis undulate across the Alaskan sky from the naturally-heated and health-boosting waters of a natural spring.
Let the lights cruise into view
An even more comfortable, indulgent way to see the Aurora is on a cruise ship. Sail into Arctic Circle waters in a luxury liner, like the prestigious Balmoral – operated by Fred Olsen Cruises. Its Norway Winter trip allows you to try dog sledding, see UNESCO-listed rock carvings and visit the famous Arctic Cathedral, enjoying some culture in addition to viewing the Lights. The cruise stops at several locations that are known for Aurora sightings.
Accommodation on the Balmoral includes a range of exclusive suites with balconies. Dining is second to none, with tantalisingly-tempting dishes served at the Ballindalloch Restaurant. After a hard night watching one of the natural wonders of the world, you could restore yourself with a trip to the Atlantis Spa. It’ll be a trip you never forget.