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When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Canada?

If seeing the Northern Lights is one of the things you're hoping to tick off your bucket list, you're in luck.

From Iceland to Sweden to Alaska and Norway, there are a handful of countries you can visit to catch the aurora borealis AKA the Northern Lights, and Canada is right up there with some of the best.

Hit the back country of Yukon Territory, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Calgary or Manitoba with a jeep and a prayer and you could see yourself blessed with a view of this natural light show as it dances across the skies.

If you're searching for the best times to see the Northern Lights in Canada, we've sussed out the answer. Read on for our tips and tricks and then prepare to get your camera out, you're not going to want to miss a moment of the action.

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Canada

December to March.

Why?

December through March offers the longest hours of darkness in Canada and the Northern Lights are best seen at the darkest time of night.

Overview

Canada's northern provinces extend deep into the Arctic Circle and offer some of the most amazing locations from which to see the Northern Lights. Visiting towns that are furthest away from major cities will ensure the least amount of light pollution and the best view of the Lights.

Although it's ideal to visit during the darkest months, planning your holiday for the beginning or the end of winter will mean cheaper accommodation and tour prices.

Weather and prices

The best time to see the Northern Lights, weather-wise: Travelling between September and November and between February and March will mean that you avoid the coldest winter months.

The cheapest time to see the Northern Lights: Travelling during the shoulder months, such as in early September or late March, will mean cheaper hotels and tour prices though reduces your chance of catching the lights. Alternatively, try searching for package deals during December and January.


The best time to see the Northern Lights in...

  • The Northwest Territories: Located in Canada's far north, visitors have a higher chance of seeing the Northern Lights in this sparsely populated province during the late autumn and winter months when the days are the shortest - in late December, the sun sets at about 3pm.
  • Alberta: Once outside of the city, you can view the lights at anytime from September through to May in Alberta. Combine a northern lights trip with a visit to Banff National Park for a truly magical experience.
  • Manitoba: The town of Churchill in Manitoba has one of the heaviest concentrations of aurora activity and it’s best to visit between January and February. In Manitoba you can also see incredible wildlife such as beluga whales and polar bears.
  • Ontario: Although one of Canada's more southerly provinces, there is still a chance to see the lights here, with the greatest odds in the depth of winter from January to February at the darkest time of the night in the hours around midnight.
  • British Columbia: British Columbia offers a range of places to see the Northern Lights, especially when travelling during the darker months from December to March. British Columbia also offers some of the world’s best skiing, which can be done in the colder seasons.
  • Yukon: Travellers visiting Yukon between December and March are likely to see the Northern Lights more than once. Like the Northwest Territories, the days are short during the winter. Yukon also offers a great range of activities during the winter months, with a huge selection of day tours and nature-based activities.

Search for a flight to Canada:

To get closest to the lights, we'd recommend searching for flights to places like Yellowknife in the Northwest Territory, Edmonton or Calgary in Alberta or Whitehorse in the Yukon.


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  1. Default Gravatar
    ShipraAugust 11, 2017

    Hi, I am visiting Canada from India in September. I wish to see Northern Lights somewhere near Vancouver. Please give me a realistic answer on the probability and cheapest options.

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanAugust 11, 2017

      Hello Shipra,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      September to November is the cheapest time to go as usually this is when locals go back to work or school. This translates to cheaper hotels and tour packages. You may visit this page to check the current deals available in Vancouver or surrounding areas.

      As always, please read the fine print of any deals or vouchers you’d avail to prevent any mishaps on your travel.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

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