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Travel Inspiration

Best Time to View the Northern Lights

Last Updated

September 6, 2023

The breathtaking phenomenon of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural wonder that captures the imagination of many. If you're planning a trip to witness this awe-inspiring display of lights dancing across the night sky, it is crucial to know the best times of year for optimal viewing. The key to witnessing the Northern Lights in all their glory lies in timing. While they can be observed year-round in certain parts of the world, there are specific periods when the chances of catching this celestial spectacle are significantly higher. By understanding these ideal seasons, you'll maximize your chances of experiencing this truly unforgettable and magical event.


The winter months, particularly from December to February, are widely regarded as the prime time to witness the northern lights. Several factors contribute to the success rate during this period. First and foremost, the nights are longer in winter, providing more darkness and increasing your chances of catching a glimpse of the auroras. Additionally, the cold weather helps to minimize light pollution, ensuring a clearer and more vibrant display of these ethereal lights. Countries located near the Arctic Circle, such as Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, become popular destinations during this time due to their ideal geographical positions.

Autumn and Spring

While winter holds the key to the most intense northern lights displays, autumn and spring also offer captivating opportunities to witness this natural wonder. During the transitional seasons, the weather is relatively mild, making it more comfortable for visitors to explore the outdoors. Countries like Canada and Alaska, which straddle the Arctic Circle, provide unique chances to experience the auroras along with breathtaking landscapes decorated with autumnal foliage or blooming flowers. These vibrant backdrops further enhance the already enchanting auroras, resulting in truly magical experiences.


Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to see the northern lights during summer. However, the challenges of capturing this spectacle are significantly higher during this season. As the land of the midnight sun, regions near the Arctic Circle, including Greenland and parts of Alaska, experience continuous daylight in summer. The extended daylight hours make it difficult to witness the auroras, as they are easily overshadowed by the bright glow of the sun. Nevertheless, if you're determined to observe the northern lights during summer, focusing on the few hours of semi-darkness around midnight provides your best chance.

Additional Factors to Consider

Apart from choosing the right time of year, there are a few other factors to keep in mind when planning your northern lights adventure. Firstly, finding a location with minimal light pollution is crucial for optimal viewing conditions. Remote areas away from cities or towns are ideal for experiencing the full brilliance of the auroras. Secondly, checking the weather forecast is essential, as clear skies are necessary for unobstructed views of the northern lights. Finally, being patient and allowing sufficient time for multiple viewing attempts increases your chances of witnessing these celestial wonders.

In conclusion, the best time of year to see the northern lights depends on several factors. Winter offers long nights and reduced light pollution, creating perfect conditions for vibrant displays. Autumn and spring provide milder weather and unique landscapes alongside the auroras. Summer, although challenging, can still yield the desired results if you plan strategically. So, choose your preferred season, pick the right location, and prepare for an adventure that will leave you awe-struck by the beauty of the northern lights.

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