December 31, 2018 Melanie Windridge

Top places for a New Years Eve aurora break

Forget the fireworks at New Year. Instead, head north for a different kind of spectacular light show! I’ve written before about why we all need to see the aurora, so make the most of the festive slow-down to head out into a winter wonderland.

I asked northern lights travel experts Discover the World and The Aurora Zone for their top picks for a European New Years Eve getaway. Click through to find out more about the hotels and the packages offered. All the holidays include dedicated Aurora activities to help you hunt for the magical northern lights.

Wilderness Hotel Nangu, Finland

– adults-only boutique hotel
– a secluded location on the shores of Lake Inari
– a variety of Arctic activities on offer, such as dog-sledding and snowmobiling

Aurora over Wilderness Hotel Nangu.

Aurora over Wilderness Hotel Nangu. Credit: Matt Robinson and The Aurora Zone

Nangu New Year’s packages available from The Aurora Zone.

Icehotel, Sweden

– fascinating architecture and history – a real experience!
– option to sleep in a unique Art Suite, which are specially-designed and different every year
– warm accommodation as well as cold

You can find out more about the Icehotel in a post I wrote about my own visit, Icehotel and Aurora with Mum. It also featured in my book Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights.

Me and my mum in our Icehotel Art Suite called Cumulus - a cloud room.

Me and my mum in our Icehotel Art Suite called Cumulus – a cloud room.

Icehotel New Year’s packages available from Discover the World.

Hotel Ranga, Iceland

– ranch-style hotel in the Icelandic countryside away from light pollution
– close to the natural wonders of the “Golden Circle”
– do some stargazing in the hotel’s private observatory with 2 high-powered telescopes

Northern lights over Hotel Ranga, Iceland. Credit: Hotel Ranga

Northern lights over Hotel Ranga, Iceland. Credit: Hotel Ranga

Hotel Ranga New Year’s packages available from Discover the World.

Harriniva Wilderness Hotel, Finland

– a winter wilderness hotel with optional cabin accommodation and a wellness centre
– a remote location away from light pollution
– a variety of Arctic activities on offer, such as dog-sledding and snowmobiling

Aurora over Harriniva Wilderness Hotel, Finland. Credit: Antti Pietikainen

Aurora over Harriniva Wilderness Hotel, Finland. Credit: Antti Pietikainen

Harriniva New Year’s packages available from The Aurora Zone.

Reykjavik, Iceland

– for those who prefer a city break, The Aurora Zone offers an easily personalised option with northern lights excursions and whale-watching
– offers independence – choose from an array of daytime activities
– New Years Eve in the city of Reykjavik

Northern lights dancing over the city of Reykjavik, Iceland.  Credit: The Aurora Zone & Visit Iceland

Northern lights dancing over the city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Credit: The Aurora Zone & Visit Iceland

Reykjavik New Year’s packages available from The Aurora Zone.

The Arctic is a stunning place to visit and most locations give you the opportunity to be as active as you like, heading out on snowmobiles or skis, or just relaxing in the cosy lodge or sauna. While some locations enable you to see the aurora direct from the door of the hotel, many also offer evening excursions to increase aurora-sighting chances or to add excitement.

Lizzie from Discover the World says, “all our holidays are designed to maximise your chances of seeing the lights while ensuring you have an amazing time along the way.” Speak to the experts to find out the best option for you.

I hope this gives you some ideas for a future European aurora trip. Please share your favourite places with me!

Note: packages suggested above are subject to availability and may change in future years, but the locations and lodges should still be available.

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About the Author

Melanie Windridge Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, speaker, writer… with a taste for adventure. She has a PhD in fusion energy, is Communications Consultant for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy, and has worked in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and the Your Life campaign. Melanie is an expert in the aurora and loves the mountains. She believes science and exploration go hand in hand. In 2018 she climbed Mount Everest.