February 24, 2012 – Where to Catch the World’s Best Light Show: Because nature does it better than any laser display, head north to be dazzled by the aurora borealis.
Pictured above: Viewing the Northern Lights in Norway by Hurtigruten.
The skies are alive with color—even more so than usual. The dancing streaks of light in the night sky, known as the aurora borealis or Northern Lights, are expected to be especially vivid this year. Increased solar activity is to thank for the dancing flashes of emerald, pink, violet and yellow, says Phillip Chamberlin, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Now through the end of March is prime time to see the lights. For optimal viewing, get away from city lights and keep watch between 10PM and 2AM Mr. Chamberlin says the aurora may be pushed farther south this year; just in case, here are few memorable ways to gaze in northern latitudes.
Sail the Fiords in Norway: Cruise Norway’s west coast to aurora’s epicenter on a six- to 12-day cruise between Bergen and Kirkenes. Hurtigruten’s fleet crosses the Arctic Circle, promising some of the best chances to view the Northern Lights. Calm, ice-free waters come courtesy of the Gulf Stream—all the better to watch the skies while soaking in a top-deck hot tub, glass of Champagne in hand. Snoozers can turn on the “aurora alarm” to be notified when the lights appear, while night owls can try to catch the display on sledding and snowmobiling excursions in the wee hours. From about $840 per person for six nights: Click here for details.
Ski Glaciers in Greenland (below): Cross-country ski over snow fields, frozen fiords and pristine glaciers (while someone else takes care of your baggage). On Iceland Mountain Guides’ eight-day trip, guests spend nights in tents and hostels far away from urban sources of light—perfect front-row seats for aurora appearances. From about $2,300 per person: Click here.
Above: Iceland Mountain Guides’ eight-day trip by Einar Torfi Finnsson.
Snuggle in a See-Through Igloo in Finland (below): Waking in the middle of the night to see rainbows overhead is a real possibility at Hotel Kakslauttanen’s Igloo Village in northern Lapland. Their 20 glass igloos have thermal panes that keep the digs warm and prevent frosting. With reported visibility in the region 200 nights a year, chances are good for sightings inside this remote and dreamy dome. The sculptures in the property’s “ice gallery” provide even more eye candy. From about $220 per person per night (see below picture): Click to book here.
Above: Hotel Kakslauttanen’s Igloo Village in northern Laplandaty at Hotel Kakslauttanen.
Soar the Skies in Sweden: An excellent way to get up close and personal with the illuminations: Charter your own flight. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden’s Lapland region organizes excursions in a nine-seat plane, window seats only. Fly above the clouds into the auroral oval, the astral area encircling the polar north, then celebrate with a drink in the Absolut Icebar before retiring to an ice-block bed covered in reindeer pelts and thermal sleeping bags. From about $640 per seat, icehotel.com
Above: The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden’s Lapland region.
(Credits: As sited above to book, Narrative – the Wall Street Journal).
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