Module 04: When can I see the northern lights and the midnight sun?
When it comes to natural phenomena, it is definitely a good idea to leave as little as possible to chance.
In this module, we will tell you how your clients can maximise their chances to see the northern lights and where they should go to experience the midnight sun. You will also learn a little bit about the phenomenon known as the polar night.
Nordlys over Tromsø. Photo: Gaute Bruvik / Visitnorway.com
For many people, the stark contrast between the dark winters and light summers adds an exotic element to their holiday in Norway. To make the most of the magic, it is important to know when and where to go.
The midnight sun
The midnight sun can only be experienced north of the Arctic Circle during certain dates in the summer, when the sun does not go below the horizon.
The more north you travel, the longer is the midnight sun period. At the Arctic Circle, you can see the phenomenon from 12 June to 1 July, which is 20 days. At the North Cape, which is the northernmost accessible point of mainland Europe, you can experience the midnight sun from 14 May to 29 July. That's 77 days. And if you go to Svalbard, the sun stays up for over 120 days during spring and summer.
Having said that, it is good to know that at the height of summer, the summer days are long and light all over the country – the sun dips under the horizon before it comes up again, but it does not get completely dark, not even in the south.
If your clients ask when they can see the phenomenon, you can refer to the midnight sun timetable here:
The Arctic Circle
12 June–1 July
4 June–8 July
The Lofoten Islands
28 May–14 July
25 May–18 July
22 May–21 July
20 May–22 July
17 May–26 July
16 May–27 July
20 April–22 August
Video: Sit back and relax
The Arctic light
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Find extra information br> on Visitnorway.com
Slettnes in Nordkyn. Photo: Christoffer Robin Jensen
The northern lights, or aurora borealis as they are also called, can appear in many places in the world. Having said that, we think we have good reasons to claim that Northern Norway is one of the most convenient and interesting places to experience the lights:
The climate up here, close to the coast, means that the weather changes quickly. If you can't see the northern lights in one place, you probably do not have to travel too far to get a clear sky somewhere else.
Northern Norway covers a huge geographical area. While it is sparsely populated, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who live up here, and there is a wide range of hotels and activities on offer to keep you comfortable and busy while you wait for the lights to appear.
The best times to witness the magic north of the Arctic Circle are in late autumn and winter, as well as early spring (September to late March).
The so-called polar night occurs when the night lasts for at least 24 hours. This can only happen north of the Arctic Circle. "Night" is understood as the period when the centre of the sun is below the horizon.
The polar night does not mean absolute darkness around the clock however, but rather days with varying degrees of dark shades, long shadows, and the typical Nordic blue-ish winter light.
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Roald Amundsen at the South Pole. Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway
Get a summary of the module here
Wrap-up with Isabel
When can I see the northern lights and the midnight sun?
Test your knowledge
Finished the module? Check your knowledge by taking the test below.
Alert: The following question(s) have setup issues:
A client wants to experience the midnight sun. Where in Norway should she go and when? Select all the answers you think are correct.
Good work! The midnight sun timetable in the module content above is a good tool to find out when and where you can see the midnight sun.
Ouch! That's not right.
A client is curious about the northern lights and wants to know more. What would you tell him about the phenomenon? Select all the answers you think are correct.
Well done! The northern lights can appear in many places in the world, but not all of them are easily accessible for tourists. In Northern Norway, there are lots of destinations that offer accommodation and northern light hunts as well as other activities, so we think it is fair to say that Northern Norway is the most comfortable place to look out for the lights.
The northern lights can appear in the daytime but they are only visible to the naked eye when it is completely dark.
The best times and places to witness the magic are north of the Arctic Circle in late autumn as well as early spring (September to late March).