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The Traveller's Magazine
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This magical wintery phenomenon is one that travellers come from far and wide to experience. Here’s everything you need to know about where to find the Aurora Borealis this winter. Whichever country you choose, don’t forget to dress warm!

If you’ve never travelled to the “Great North” in winter, you’re in for a big surprise. Not only is it magical to experience such a winter wonderland but seeing the Northern Lights for the first time is an experience you’ll not soon forget. When all the right conditions come together, you’ll see nature put on one of her finest shows of green-hued lights dancing across the dark starry night sky. So, what makes the lights? And where are the best places to see them this winter?

What are the Northern Lights?

First of all, there are two Polar Lights, not just the Northern ones. The Aurora Borealis, which can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as the Aurora Australis, which are found in the Southern Hemisphere. The Northern Lights are caused by a collision of electrons travelling in a stream towards the Earth along a magnetic field and air particles in our sky. The air then lights up in different colours, but mostly hues of green, across the sky. What we’re seeing are the particles along the magnetic field… and it’s just incredible.

It all comes down to weather conditions though, if you’re hoping to see the lights. You need a clear sky with no clouds, no moon and no light pollution. The lights can appear for only a few minutes, or hours at a time.

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Where to see the Northern Lights?

In order to see this amazing natural phenomenon, you have to get pretty close to the Arctic Circle and travel as far north as possible. Scandinavia is a great choice, especially Lapland (Norway, Sweden, Finland), where you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot the lights during your trip. Other chilly, northern countries that have good conditions for spotting the Aurora Borealis include Canada, Iceland, Alaska, Russia and Greenland… but northern countries aren’t the only ones to record clear sightings. Scotland, Northern Ireland and even Belgium have reported seeing the lights (although it’s rare).

The best time of the year to spot them is between September and March, with most sightings at night, from 11pm to 2am. If you don’t see anything before midnight, be patient. Stay another hour or two… and they’ll usually show up.

Good luck on your hunt to find nature’s light show!


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