When to see the northern lights

Seeing the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, as they are also known, is a jaw-dropping and mystical moment.

The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn and winter/early spring.

Between the autumn equinox and spring equinox (21 September – 21 March), it is dark between 6 pm and 1 am, and you have maximum chances of spotting the lights. However, the weather is also of importance, and September, October and November tend to be wet and snowless in the north.

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From December the weather dries up, and there is normally plenty of snow. If you come in December or January, you experience the polar nights with atmospheric evenings and very short days.

In February and March the days are longer and you see more of the snow-clad landscapes during daytime, and the evenings still offer maximum chances to spot the northern lights.

No guarantee can be given, though. Some weeks, you are treated to fantastic displays, repeated several times during the evening. Other times, the snow falls densely, or the northern lights simply stay away. Naturally, the longer you stay and the more time you set aside, the better the odds.

Where to see the northern lights

In order to get full value from the show you should avoid the full moon and places with a lot of light as they make the experience considerably paler. Also remember to wrap up warmly.

Theoretically, you can see the northern lights all over Norway. However, the best places are above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway.

The northern lights belt hits Northern Norway in the Lofoten Islands, and follows the coast all the way up to the North Cape. This means that no other place on earth offers better chances of spotting the lights, and one location in this area might be as good as another. In fact, one often observes the same northern lights in the Lofoten as in Tromsø, just from a different angle. The driest weather, giving clear skies, is found inland, statistically providing the best chances, but with strong eastern winds, the coast can be clearer than inland areas.

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