2012 ‘Best Year’ to see Northern Lights

According to scientists, this year is set to be the best year to view the Northern Lights. They are typically seen between the months of September and April in the skies above the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, making Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway ideal locations. Displays of the lights can vary in intensity and duration, shape and form with each display totally unique.

They appear when solar winds collide with air molecules in the earth’s magnetic field. Changes then occur as particles are boosted with energy and these produce the dazzling displays of light. A ‘solar maximum’ (period of great solar activity) means that the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are greatest this year so if you are planning a holiday around viewing them, check out our best buys below:

Sweden : Wilderness Husky Adventure

Departures: December to April. Duration: 3, 4, 6 nights Price: from £1,432

This holiday allows you to be more than a passenger in the sledge as you experience the total satisfaction and joy of driving your own team of dogs. With vastly experienced guides and a ground operator who pioneered self-drive husky sledging tours for the novice, this holiday is more thrilling than most similar ones offered elsewhere.

The ‘whoosh’ of the sledge runners on snow and the panting of the ever-eager dogs are the only sounds you will hear across the beautiful, silent landscape. It is only when the sledge stops that the dogs become more vocal. Sledging days can prove demanding especially on arms and shoulders so these trips are unsuitable for children or those without a good general level of fitness. Our consultants are on hand to discuss which trip might be best for you.

Whilst sledging, remember to be on the look out for Arctic wildlife and the telltale signs of footprints in the snow – possibly even spot a moose! And at this latitude, when the skies are dark, keep your fingers crossed for an appearance of the northern lights.

Iceland : Northern Lights Special

Departures: Oct – Apr (ex Dec). Duration:3 nights Price: from £521

Hotel Ranga sits in a prime location, miles away from the interference of artificial street lighting. Being under vast, wide open skies means that in wintertime this is one of the best places in Iceland for a sighting and we think, possibly in the entire northern hemisphere!

The Northern Light Inn, next door to the Blue Lagoon, is set amongst a great expanse of lavascape making it also prime aurora borealis country! The staff at Hotel Ranga have been captivated by observing this surreal phenomenon, and are eager to share this knowledge with fellow ‘aurora’ watchers.

From time to time an in-house ‘expert’ will give a presentation for guests on the northern lights. Of course the appearance of a shimmering curtain of dancing lights can never be guaranteed and at times when conditions seem perfect, they just don’t materialise or they come and go in a flash. If you wish, Hotel Ranga’s staff will wake you during the night should a display occur and, by switching off the hotel’s outside lights, the sighting will be at its optimum intensity.

Finland : Kakslauttanen – Log Cabins and Igloos

Departures: November to April. Duration: 3 nights Price: from £954

A wonderful wilderness experience with delightful accommodation set amidst dazzling surrounds. This break can be whatever you want it to be and it’s also a perfect choice for weddings and honeymoons. The vast and breathtaking fell area of Saariselka lies 300km north of the Arctic Circle and Kakslauttanen is a mere 80km from the Russian border.

This wonderful holiday comes with a wide choice of accommodation and optional snow-based activities plus the cabins have their own sauna – a perfect antidote after a fun day out in the snow. And of course, you may also be treated to spectacular displays of the northern lights.

The Kakslauttanen Hotel is just a 30-minute transfer from Ivalo airport. It has 40 spacious and warm rustic cabins dotted amongst the trees, far enough away from one another to enable you to make the most of your own ‘garden’ area – ideal for building a snowman!

Norway : In Pursuit of the Aurora

Departures: November to April. Duration: 7 nights Price: from £1,599

Finnmark is a wild and wonderful area of northern Norway which boasts spectacular scenery from rugged island seascapes to vast mountain plateaus. This NEW coastal adventure starts from Tromso and takes you up to the top end of mainland Europe. Throughout this itinerary you’ll have a chance to explore a truly special part of the world, its vast open skies giving ample opportunities for magical aurora sightings from land or whilst at sea.

As you voyage north, winding between islands and fjords, you’ll swear it gets darker each night, the ‘big skies’ lending themselves perfectly to keeping watch for the aurora. The next day there is an early morning stop in Hammerfest, the world’s most northerly town and interestingly the first European town to receive electric lighting.