The Northern Lights are elusive, completely wild and there is no guarantee you will see them, even if the sky is clear of cloud. Then, if you do see them, there are no indicators how long they will last and whether they will put on a display you will remember for the rest of your life. Hunting for the lights can be very addictive, it’s a challenge you have to be well prepared for, but a challenge that reaps life changing and humbling rewards. Here are my three favourite Aurora hunts so far:
The First One
My first Northern Lights hunt in Finnish Lapland was part of an organised Aurora Hunt by car from the Northern Lights Village in Saariselkä. Myself and three work colleagues were driven north from our accommodation for over an hour, every mile we covered took us closer to the Russian border. The driver was taking us well away from any light pollution, which is critical in Northern Lights hunts.
Once we arrived at our camp, a fire was made and the hot berry juice was flowing. An Aurora hunt is not complete without this steaming delicacy. There was no sign of the Aurora initially so our guide, Tarmo, told us stories of Finnish history and kept us thoroughly entertained. Then, out of nowhere the Aurora appeared in the sky and started to develop into a band of light moving higher up the sky. Shortly after the display peaked, the fog rolled in and it was time to pack up camp and head back to our Aurora cabin. It was a great introduction to Finnish Northern Lights hunting and it wet my appetite for more of the same!
Feeling inspired? Search for the Northern Lights in Saariselkä here.
Christmas Eve Aurora
The festive period is exciting enough in Finland without the Aurora dancing above your head. It was around 6:30pm and all the guests in the hotel had just sat down for dinner, suddenly from outside there was a scream of ‘AURORA!!!’. The noise of cutlery being dropped down onto plates echoed through the restaurant, guests grabbed their outdoor clothing and headed straight outside where a vibrant green band had formed in the sky going from north to south.
Over the next 8 hours the Aurora danced in the Christmas skies over Muotka, it’s shape changed by the second and it was my first glimpse of the Aurora at it’s most spectacular. The lights pulsed across the sky above my head, like a flowing river of photons, it was mesmerising, magical and memorable.
Click here to find out more about ticking the Northern Lights off your bucket list in Muotka
Explosion over Nangu
On Friday 19th January, I held an Aurora workshop in the beautiful boutique Hotel Nangu. I sat with our guests and explained to them the science behind the Northern Lights and how to take photographs of them. After this, we jumped onto some snowmobiles and drove across a large frozen lake in search of the Aurora. Within minutes, our guide, Mira, had stopped us and pointed to the north. There it was; a faint arching band of light on the northern horizon. The display was starting. For the next few hours, we chatted, took photographs and drank hot berry juice in the middle of this frozen expanse, little did we know the best was yet to come! Seconds after, we disembarked from the snowmobiles and a few guests went inside to get warm. I looked up and saw the Northern Lights were about to explode into life. I dropped my helmet on the floor and ran inside the hotel shouting ‘AURORA, EVERYONE OUTSIDE QUICK!’. For the next 30 minutes the most colourful, active and mesmerising Aurora ripped across the sky like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It filled so much of the sky our guide and guests lay on the floor to try and capture every moment of it. A display of this scale brings you to the verge of tears whilst shouting out in joy at the lights as if we were thanking them for dancing for us.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have watched that display and if I don’t see it again in my time in Finnish Lapland I will be happy about that one being the last one. Of course, there will be many more shows, we are in prime position to observe the lights here in Finland and it’s no surprise to me how popular these Arctic adventure holidays are becoming.
Image Credits: Matt Robinson & The Aurora Zone