GREEN LIGHT DISTRICT

Na­ture gives no guar­an­tees but at least you can book a front-row seat for its most spec­tac­u­lar show

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION LAPLAND - RICHARD GREEN

The North­ern Lights are one of na­ture’s most spec­tac­u­lar shows. Their fan­tas­ti­cal dance of green, blue, pink and vi­o­let light – as seen in the night sky of the Arc­tic re­gions – have be­come the main rea­son for head­ing so far into North­ern Europe in win­ter.

La­p­land is an area of Scan­di­navia that spreads across the far north of Nor­way, Swe­den and Fin­land, and its in­dige­nous Sami peo­ple be­lieve that the North­ern Lights are sparks from the tail of a myth­i­cal Fire­fox as it glances the snow.

It’s a lovely im­age, but the phe­nom­e­non also known as the aurora bo­re­alis, is ac­tu­ally caused by so­lar wind par­ti­cles hit­ting the Earth’s up­per at­mos­phere. It is as fickle as a Fire­fox though, but worry not – if you head far enough north on a clear win­ter’s night then you’ve around an 80 per cent chance of a sight­ing. But go­ing to see them is an ef­fort and an ex­pense, so here are a few steps to stack the odds fur­ther in your favour.

WHERE?

There’s a lively trade in North­ern Lights spot­ting from Thurso in the far north of Scot­land would you be­lieve, but it’s bet­ter to head fur­ther north and see the lights un­der what’s called the Aurora Zone. This broad band of Arc­tic air haloes the planet and in Europe cov­ers the far north of Fin­land, Swe­den, Nor­way, Rus­sia, and all of Ice­land. And be sure to give cities a wide berth too as the lights are a lot more likely to ap­pear in ar­eas with lit­tle light pol­lu­tion.

WHEN?

The North­ern Lights ap­pear from late September to late March, gen­er­ally from about 6pm to 1am, but the peak time to see them is mid win­ter, when nights are long­est. Yes there are cheaper deals at the start and end of the sea­son, but your chance of see­ing the lights di­min­ishes. The oth­er­worldly dis­play ac­tu­ally takes place nearly 100km above the Earth’s sur­face, so one thing for cer­tain is that you’ll be need­ing clear skies.

VIEW­ING PRACTICALITIES?

See­ing the lights re­quires warm clothes, pa­tience and a good bit of luck. But as the lights aren’t vis­i­ble un­der cloud cover, stretch­ing your stay in the far north by an ex­tra night could well make the dif­fer­ence, by giv­ing any poor weather time to pass by. You won’t re­gret it as I’ve yet to meet any­one who, hav­ing seen the lights, didn’t want to see them again.

It’s tremen­dous fun to try your hand at snow­mo­bil­ing or husky mush­ing, and it can im­prove your chances of see­ing the lights. Book a North­ern Lights ex­cur­sion from your ho­tel and you’ll be mo­bile and guided by an ex­pert, which means greater flex­i­bil­ity to move to where the dis­play is tak­ing place.

WHERE TO SLEEP?

Choos­ing the right type of ac­com­mo­da­tion is cru­cial, and there are plenty of op­tions in­clud­ing a log cabin, ship’s cabin, ice ho­tel, or even a glass-domed igloo.

A tra­di­tional log cabin is the cosiest and most fam­ily friendly way to go. The cab­ins are fairly spa­cious and usu­ally have a wood fire in the lounge and elec­tric

THERE’S NOTH­ING QUITE LIKE ... WALK­ING INTO YOUR ROOM AND SEE­ING A RAISED BED STACKED HIGH IN FURS

KAKSLAUTTANEN

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