When should you arrive in the Arctic Circle to increase your odds of catching the aurora borealis?
While there's no definite date for you to go out and gaze at the lights, there are a few key times in the year that are better than others for seeing this natural phenomenon.
Best time to see the Northern Lights
November to February.
While the aurora borealis can be active at any time, one of your major difficulties in capturing this beauty is visibility. Clear, dark skies provide better visibility for the naked eye so travelling during winter will increase your chances of catching the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon caused by collisions between electrically-charged particles from the sun as they enter our atmosphere. They are concentrated around the northern polar cap and you can frequently see them in the Arctic Circle on clear, dark nights.
The Northern Lights are a popular attraction for visitors worldwide and the best time to see them is during winter in isolated locations where there is little light pollution. As there are so many locations and countries one can visit to see the Northern Lights, there’s little fear of areas becoming overcrowded with light chasers. Flights and hotel prices however do increase around the holidays so for more appealing prices, avoid travelling during Christmas week.
To further increase your chances of catching the lights in all their glory, keep on top of aurora activity here. This site provides regular updates regarding activity and cloud cover to give you a better idea of where to head to try and see them.
Not sure where to go? Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are some of the top destinations to catch the Northern Lights. Here's our full list.
Weather and prices
Best time to see the Northern Lights, weather wise: Winter in the Arctic Circle often has precipitation in the form of rainfall or snowfall, depending on the temperature. The months that receive the heaviest precipitation vary for every country. For example, Iceland's highest precipitation occurs in December and January while the least amount of winter precipitation occurs in October and November. Finland, on the other hand, has high precipitation in October and November but low precipitation in December to March. As precipitation and cloud cover will affect visibility, decide on your location first then choose your month according to its average precipitation.
Cheapest time to visit the Northern Lights: Search for flight and hotel deals in October and November or February to avoid the Christmas holidaymakers. Though bear in mind you will need to be lucky to catch them in these months.