Seize the opportunity to catch the Northern Lights in their full glory by visiting one of these aurora hotspots, says Sarah Marshall.
the Northern Lights season is well under way. And if you want to see the stunning natural phenomenon with your own eyes, now could be the best time to go. To optimise your chances of seeing those wizard’s wand luminous streaks, book one of these new-season tours.
Churchill, Canada: Endless stretches of Arctic tundra and a healthy population of polar bears make this remote town in the Hudson Bay a true wilderness escape. At 58 degrees north, it sits within the aurora oval (the area where the lights are best observed), and in October, when the river freezes, energetic bears come to hunt and fight.
Next year, from March 2-10, a pop-up restaurant with a transparent roof will be erected inside the 18th century Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site. Price is still TBC but you can join the waiting list online now. For more information, visit raw-churchill.com.
Rovaniemi, Finland: Standing around in the cold for hours on end waiting for a green strip of light to streak across the sky – it’s a rite of passage for aurora hunters. But Regent Holidays has come up with an alternative approach. Dressed head to toe in a dry suit, willing participants will float in a frozen lake while waiting for the lights to turn up.
The Ice Floating excursion can be booked as part of a three-night break at the Arctic Light Hotel for £900pp including direct flights from London and transfers. Visit regent-holidays.co.uk
Lapland: There’s no guarantee the aurora will show up on December 31, but it would certainly beat any fireworks display if they did. Anyone looking for a novel way to see in 2018 should consider Off The Map Travel’s New Year Twice trip, which zips across the border, allowing party-goers to ring in 2018 in both Finland and Sweden. Package includes champagne from an ice bar, a gala dinner and the chance to dance and sauna with locals.
A three-night/four-day trip costs £1,299pp including accommodation, activities and transfers to Lulea airport. Flights extra.
Tromso, Norway: Cloud cover frequently scuppers chances of viewing the aurora, particularly along coastal areas. But one method to get round the problem is to soar above the fuzzy grey masses on a plane.
Special flights will operate from Tromso airport from January to March 2018, with a bottle of champagne stowed on board for the moment the show begins.
Magnetic North Travel offers the Aurora flight, with a guaranteed window seat, as part of a three night-break in a four-star hotel, costing £995pp with flights and transfers.