The Northern Lights
If you missed out on last winter’s Northern Lights, don’t worry – book now for Winter 2013-2014 places are already filling up fast! If you are travelling with children, why not combine a Christmas trip to Lapland and combine the excitement? Ask me for the best options of where to see the Northern Lights. The rise in popularity of Northern Lights and Arctic Adventure holidays in the past year has been amazing – please book early to get the best choice of dates.
An incredible sight, which astronomers observe on other planets using telescopes and spacecraft, The Northern Lights can be seen on Earth all around the Northern polar region, occuring most frequently in a radius of 2500km from the magnetic north pole. This ‘auroral zone’ extends over northern Scandinavia, Iceland the southern tip of Greenland and northern Canada, Alaska and the north coast of Siberia. The best of the easiest places to get to is northern Norway in the counties of Troms and Finnmark. If you want to do a cruise to see the Northern Lights, I can book you a Norway voyage from many regional airports ask me for details.
The dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis light up polar skies with the best times to see them November and March, though they are visible flickering in the skies right through the Arctic winter, the darkest days of January to March often giving good visibility but can still be seen in April. The auroras occur between 90 – 130 km above sea level but some fo the ray like forms extend up to several hundred kilometres.
These lights are actually solar flares, which burst away from the sun, into space and with a billion times the energy of an atomic bomb! As it travels through space it can take with it swathes of the Sun’s atmosphere and become a giant canonball full of magnetic and electrical forces. Most of these eruptions disappear harmlessly in deep space but a small fraction hit the Earth and spark into the wonderful Aurora which we see in our polar regions.The colours reflect the gases in the earth’s atmosphere the most common yellow-green colour comes from Oxygen. Red colouring occurs when oxygen mixes with nitrogen and violet on the lower edges of the Aurora is due to nitrogen, as is any blue colouring.
There are actually ‘Southern Lights’ too in the Antarctic regions but the only inhabited parts to see them are Tasmania and southern New Zealand. The Earth has a natural magnetic shield which is only weaker at the poles, allowing these particles from the Sun to strike the atmosphere and turn the sky into a fluorescent light show.
For one of the best Northern Lights experiences, head to Lapland and take a night safari with huskies, or travel with reindeer deep into the lands of the Sami people. On a four night break you can enjoy a snowmobile safari, husky safari, herd reindeer and trek in the forests. Northern Norway and Sweden have some amazing wilderness adventure opportunities including Spitsbergen and the Lofoten Islands from which you can see the lights.
There are some fabulous group adventure holidays which include the chance to see the Northern Lights, whilst including snow shoeing, dog sledding and other activities in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Iceland is another great option for wonderful views of this amazing natural light show and can easily be included in a city break there. There is a specialist week long winter tour to Iceland with specialist astronomers which gives you the maximum chance to see the Northern Lights! Or if you want to combine the best chance of seeing the lights with some snowshoeing and glacier explorations head to Iceland on the Snowshoeing trip.
Scientists at NASA are say that Northern Lights sightings have been the best in 50 years in 2013, so book your place with me now for your next winter holiday light show!
I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for organizing at late notice our holiday to Sweden. We had the most amazing time and got to see the Northern Lights on three nights, so we were really lucky. The trips were very well organized, the food was delicious and the people were charming. Ripan was a great place to stay too. Thanks again for making it all happen for us.
Furley-Strandburg Family – Sweden (January 2013)
Julie, many, many thanks for the trip you organised for us to Norway for my wife’s surprise birthday present. You were so understanding when I outlined all that I wanted to include, patient with my hesitations about whether my wife would be happy with what I was deciding and remained cheerful despite the changes I kept requesting. It all paid off, the travel arrangements worked perfectly and we loved the hotels, particularly the room in Tromso with the view of the sea and mountains. The excursions were just what I hoped for we had wanted to try cross-country skiing for years but having nil experience on skis we were very apprehensive. The young instructor was brilliant, everything was carefully explained (in perfect English of course) and he had so much patience with us that we couldn’t fail to respond by spending more time upright than we had any right to expect – a beautiful day and a fabulous experience. We had a mixture of snow and clear skies during the days but mainly snow at night, spoiling our chances of seeing the northern lights – one of our objectives. However on our very last night when we were dog-sledding at the Wilderness Centre (another of your recommendations) the clouds cleared and we were treated to the displays we had waited for. Shame my camera skills weren’t quite up to capturing them; a good excuse for a return. Incidentally my wife was extremely happy when the dog-musher explained that dog teams are always led by the females because they are the more sensible ones and know how to follow instructions!
Thanks again for all your help, both recommendations and bookings. It made organising a holiday a pleasurable experience and having you available by phone and on-line to sort out any possible problems was reassuring.
Peter Robinson – Northern Norway (Feb 2012)
Seeing the Northern Lights has been on my ‘bucket list’ for a long time, so when we heard that this was due to be one of the best years to see the Northern Lights, we decided to go for it. We were both so busy ourselves that it seemed obvious to ask someone to do all the time-consuming legwork for us, so we contacted Jules – and we are so glad we did.
We ended up going backwards and forwards so many times over dates, but Jules was incredibly patient and accommodating throughout. She came back to us with a long list of other activities to include in our few days to Norway to ensure that we made the most of our time. We only had 3 nights in Tromso but managed to fit in 2 Northern Lights tours as well as a couple of other activities, with time remaining to relax and see the city. Unfortunately wet weather meant that we were unable to do our cross-country skiing course, but Jules worked hard and was persistent on our return to ensure that we got our money back.
The only aspect of our holiday that Jules was unable to arrange was the weather – we did see a glimmer of the Lights, but we will just have to go back in a few years with our two girls! She has so much knowledge and is incredibly efficient, but if she wasn’t able to answer our questions she would go away, find the answer and get back to us by return of email. She really did take the hassle out of booking a fabulous tailor-made holiday for us, and we certainly won’t hesitate to book our next adventure through Travel With Jules.
Dave & Miranda – Norway (March 2012)
Thank you for organising such a great schedule for us on our recent trip to Norway, especially at such short notice and with so much demand this season for Northern Lights. We were really lucky to see the start of the longest Husky race in Europe and the two dogsledding we did were both great fun and very different experiences. I’m really glad I had a go at ”mushing” the dogs were a joy to work with both during the day and also the night event. The staff at the hotel in Alta were very helpful and friendly, as was everyone we met. The Igloo Hotel was a sight to behold, the level of detail they go to throughout but particularly for the little chapel was amazing.
Cathy Bauso – Northern Norway (March 2012)
Having read that the Northern Lights were predicted to be exceptional in 2012, my husband and I decided to find a holiday that we would both enjoy but, at the same time, maximise our chances of seeing the lights.
We found Julie on line and gave her our wish list and she came up trumps with a snow shoeing holiday in Finland. It was perfect – good fun, active but not too challenging. We were based in a comfortable eco camp in the Oulanka National Park surrounded by wonderful scenery, where the staff and guides were very professional, efficient and great fun. To top all this, we saw the Northern Lights over four nights culminating in a spectacular display on the final night. All in all, just the right holiday for us. Thank you Julie.