Frozen beauty in the north
The aurora borealis is an unforgettable spectacle in the night skies of the arctic zone travel2013
THE NORTHERN Lights are one of the greatest spectacles on Earth and Nasa predicts this winter will be another “solar maximum”, meaning increased cosmic activity and better chances of seeing those notoriously elusive displays of ethereal red and green lights. But you’ll have to travel to the far north of the planet to do so. Happily, a range of off-beat accommodation options is available this season, promising to keep you warm and entertained while waiting for the magic.
New for this season and reminiscent of a science-fiction film set, these giant, transparent, inflatable bubbles are planted deep in Finnish Lapland, in prime position to catch sight of the Aurora Borealis. Better still, they’re heated, and are big enough to fit a private bathroom and double bed, meaning there’s every chance you can watch one of nature’s greatest displays tucked up in bed. Daytime activities include sleigh rides, ice- fishing and learning about the local Sami culture. See www.theaurora zone.com astronomer, travel from St Petersburg to Moscow on board the Golden Eagle, which features ensuite, panoramic-windowed cabins and a fine-dining restaurant. Stop off along the way for specialist Aurora excursions and visits to the Unesco World Heritage city of Vladimir and the Golden Ring town, Velikiy. See www.wexas.com. communities living nearby. See quarkexpeditions.com.
The glass igloos of the Kakslauttanen Holiday Village, deep in the snow-cloaked forests of Saariselka, Finland, are heated and provide uninterrupted views of the night sky. viewing locations, in the company of expert photographers, and help you to capture that perfect image.
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris , www. photosafaris. com offers an eight-day trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, to photograph the Aurora Borealis, the World Ice Art Competition and the North American Championship Sled Dog Races.
Wild Photography Holidays, www. wildphotographyholidays. com, has a new 10- day Iceland Northern Lights workshop, taking in many of the country’s photographic highlights including Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Jokulsarlon Lagoon.
Alistair McLean, Founder of The Aurora Zone, offers this advice: “Always travel in hope, rather than expectation, of seeing the Northern Lights. Base your holiday around daytime activities so the Aurora itself comes as a bonus. For the best chances of seeing the lights, head north – but not too far. They are most frequently visible between about 66°N and 69°N. Also avoid heavy light pollution from towns and large ski resorts. Most organised trips include cold-weather gear, but the best investment you can make is a pair of thermal long johns.” – Independent
LIGHT SHOW: Spectacular aurora borealis displays are expected in the far north in December.
LAPLAND: The Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.
RUSSIA: The Kremlin and the belfry of Ivan Velikiy.