Finnish Lapland is as close as reality gets to those who dream of a winter wonderland. Contrasts are a key factor in the allure of Lapland where 24-hour sunlight in the summer replaces the dark winter days. The hustle and bustle of towns and ski resorts is just minutes away from the peace and quiet of the wild wilderness.
The thrill of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Finland is one of the best places on Earth to spot the Northern Lights – they appear on more than 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland.
In scientific terms, the Northern Lights are caused by electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with each other upon entering the earth’s atmosphere, which results in emissions of various colours of light. Green is by far the most common, but red, pink, violet, yellow and even blue can be seen at times.
Northern Lights in Rovaniemi
During my travels through Finnish Lapland I was hunting some Northern Lights myself. The Northern Lights, also known als Aurora Borealis, are visible up to 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland. In Rovaniemi, the spellbinding astral show can be witnessed in and around the city from mid-August until early April.
Catching the magical phenomenon requires clear and dark skies and a viewing spot not affected by light pollution, like street lights and neon signs. In Rovaniemi, you don’t have to walk far from the city centre to find a good spot, and really strong Auroras can be seen even with interference from artificial light. Please note: there is no sure-fire way of predicting when the Auroras will appear, only approximate predictions.
WHERE CAN I SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN ROVANIEMI?
There are quite a few good places for viewing the Auroras near the city centre. The Arctic Garden behind the Arktikum museum is a popular spot a 10-minute walk away, and the top of Ounasvaara fell is another good choice a 45-minute walk away. Any location with no light pollution and an unrestricted view of the northern sky works – the darker, the better.
WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO SEE THE AURORAS?
The Northern Lights commonly appear between 10 PM and 2 AM, but can at times be seen as soon as 7 PM. A show might last from only a couple of minutes to several hours. There are services that forecast the appearance of the Auroras, but they can never be predicted with 100 per cent certainty. Wrap up warm!
TAKE A GUIDED TOUR FOR IN-DEPTH INFORMATION
For a more thorough Aurora experience, I warmly recommend joining one of the numerous Northern Lights tours in Rovaniemi. Aurora hunts are available on snowmobiles, husky sleds, snowshoes, and in reindeer sleighs, just to name a few ways to experience the dancing arcs in the sky. Also, expert guides maximize your chances of seeing the Auroras by taking you to special viewing spots while explaining the science and myths behind the phenomenon. I did the one on snowmobiles and really loved it.
AURORA LEGEND: “FOX FIRE”
According to Sámi folklore, the Auroras are caused by a fox running over the fells of Lapland, whipping up snow with its tail and sending sparks up the northern sky. The sparks form a colourful arc of fire that lights up the dark landscape. The Finnish name for the Northern Lights, “revontulet”, meaning “fox fire”, derives from this myth.
For me, it was one of the most magical experiences – something I will never forget. <3
photo credentials: Visit Finnland, V’s World
Special thanks to Finnair who made this media trip possible.