March 18, 2019 Lucia Schweigert

When is the season for the northern lights?

Winter aurora. Photo: The Aurora Zone, Antti Pietikainen

Winter aurora. Photo: The Aurora Zone, Antti Pietikainen

The aurora happens up towards Earth’s magnetic poles all year round. However, it needs to be dark for us to be able to see the lights, and during the summer months in the northern hemisphere it’s simply too light in these latitudes to see the aurora.

Therefore, one could say that the season for the northern lights lasts from September to April. But further factors determine when you should plan your northern lights trip.

Weather considerations for planning your northern lights holiday

Aside from the season, what matters most is the weather and of course you can’t predict that as far in advance as you need in order to plan your trip. I spoke to northern lights tour experts Lizzie from Discover the World and Laura from The Aurora Zone to find out what they recommend.

Autumnal aurora, Photo: The Aurora Zone, Markku Inkila

Autumnal aurora, Photo: The Aurora Zone, Markku Inkila

“As a naturally occurring phenomenon, there really is no ‘best time’ to see the Northern Lights as each season brings its own special reason for hunting the Aurora.” Laura, The Aurora Zone


Autumnal, winter or spring aurora borealis – what do you prefer?

Laura at The Aurora Zone explains, “which month you choose to travel in depends on how you want to experience the wonders of the Arctic. Before the big winter freeze sets in, the autumnal landscape of Scandinavia is rich in colour and offers much milder temperatures. You could even see the aurora twice as it reflects in the unfrozen lakes below. In spring, the winter snow remains for you to enjoy brilliant Arctic activities, and as the sun is beginning to rise again, you’ll have more daytime hours and warmer temperatures to enjoy the surroundings. What’s more, there is scientific research to show that the autumn and spring equinoxes equate to more solar activity, and thus a higher chance of seeing an auroral display.

Lizzie says that at Discover the World they encourage their clients to think about the range of experiences they would like to have on a northern lights break. She explains, “it’s all about setting the senses alight with a variety of exciting winter experiences – relaxing in cosy accommodation, perhaps soaking in a hot tub and enjoying delicious Arctic cuisine.

Dog sledding out through the forest from the Icehotel, Sweden.

Dog sledding out through the forest from the Icehotel, Sweden.

Likewise, Laura recommends to “explore frozen landscapes by snowmobile, dog sled, snowshoe and many more all under the mesmerising light of the Polar Night – a constant feeling of twilight as the sun stays just below the horizon.

We have chosen some of the very best places and experiences to maximise your chances of seeing the aurora”, says Lizzie. Very realistically she also explains, “but because this is entirely up to mother nature, we also ensure you’ll have an amazing time along the way.

So, you see, the aurora season may be from September to April but your aurora experience can be vastly different depending on when you choose to go.  We’d say that’s a good reason to go more than once!

Thank you, Lizzie and Laura, for sharing your recommendations.

Discover the World offers a comprehensive range of northern lights holidays and has helped thousands of travellers fulfil their dream of witnessing the aurora over the years. Explore their range of northern lights holidays:

The Aurora Zone is the UK’s only and first holiday brand solely dedicated to the northern lights. They have built up an extensive range of trusted and knowledgeable aurora guides, photographers and experts throughout Northern Scandinavia. Find out about their 6-point aurora hunting plan and explore their range of northern lights holidays:

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About the Author

Lucia Schweigert Lucia Schweigert works on communications and social media in cleantech, science and the arts. Her interests are in technology that will positively transform the world, the need for greater environmental responsibility and equality of opportunity for girls and boys. Lucia loves the crossover between art and science and works with Dr Melanie Windridge to share stories of science and adventure.