Three Alternatives to the IceHotel
“a heady mix of sublime beauty and exquisite disappointment.”
If you watched Alexander Armstrong’s Land of the Midnight Sun on ITV this week you’ll have doubtless been awestruck by the sheer beauty of the IceHotel in Sweden’s Jukkasjärvi. Armstrong was rightly smitten with the IceHotel’s breathtaking interior areas and marvelled at the skilled craftsmanship of the ice and snow artisans who gather every October to create this annual monument to ice and snow architecture.
What the program didn’t reveal was that the affable presenter expresses far more mixed sentiments in the book “Land of the Midnight Sun” which accompanies the series. Yes he agrees, the IceHotel is astonishing but, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about what he perceived as an over-commercialisation of the project. Having expected “the pinnacle of refined luxury” he instead encounters “a huge complex that feels like something between a shopping centre and one of those “Christmas Wonderlands” that pop up in the Home Counties in the run up to Christmas each year”
Our forefathers believed that the Northern Lights were anything from spirits of the departed to vanquished warriors to the gods themselves.
Some saw the lights as a portent of good, guests travelling to a celestial wedding for example but, in the main, the lights were generally associated with something more malevolent.
We’ve been looking through our vast library of images to illustrate just why our ancestors held the Aurora in such reverence. Here are a few examples.
A Very Angry God?
That is one very, very frightening face reflected in the mirror-like waters of the Paatsjoki River in Northern Finland.
Okay, first and foremost, we should perhaps rename this as “The Ten Coolest Places Where You are Unlikely to Sleep Beneath the Northern Lights” because it’s a pretty unusual person who can get to sleep while the Aurora is dancing across the night sky.
Burgeoning interest in the Northern Lights over the last few years has led to the creation of ever more innovative places from which to watch the spectacle.
From bubbles and domes to cabins and camps, here, in no particular order, are our Top Ten Cool Places to Sleep (possibly) Beneath the Northern Lights.
Given the nature of my work I regularly travel to the destinations featured here at The Aurora Zone and, as a result, I get to know the countries very well and also its inhabitants. I most frequently visit Northern Scandinavia and whenever I meet a Finn, a Swede or a Norwegian for the first time I always ask the same question:
“Where is your cabin?”
Almost without exception, Scandinavians own a cabin, a cabin with no running water, no electricity but a cabin which almost invariably enjoys an enviable lakeside position. These cabins are where the good people of Finland, Sweden and Norway escape to immerse themselves in nature, to relax and to just generally have a pretty laid back time.
A few years ago, one of our Finnish suppliers invited me to come over and spend a few days at his remote lakeside cabin. He could get some time away from work in late-October and simply wanted to enjoy some downtime before the busy winter months.
The Northern Lights – An otherworldly experience
Way back in 1958, an absolutely massive solar flare resulted in the Northern Lights being visible as far south as Mexico City. By all accounts, the emergency services were inundated with panicky calls from residents who thought the dancing lights in the sky heralded an extraterrestrial invasion!!
You have to see the Northern Lights up close and personal to understand why the good people of Mexico City reacted in the way they did.
Stand on a frozen Arctic lake and watch curtains of ethereal light shimmering and billowing overhead. It soon becomes apparent why Stone Age or Iron Age man might have believed Mother Nature's hypnotic light show to be the spirits of the departed or celestial warriors engaged in combat of the immortals.
How appropriate that on St Patrick's Day, a huge geomagnetic storm should set the Aurora Borealis dancing across the skies from North America to Northern Scandinavia.
Due to the altitude with which solar particles collide with our atmosphere, the Aurora is usually predominantly green which seems to hit exactly the right St Patrick's Day notes. However, because of the sheer ferocity of the geomagnetic storm raging above our head, today's Auroras are likely to be multi-coloured with yellows, reds, pinks and blues as much to the fore as the more "traditional" green.
In the Arctic temperatures can drop down to -35 and because of polar night it's mostly dark. Handling the camera with thick gloves in the dark can be challenging.
You should do some training with gloves on and get the feeling for the buttons.
One important thing is not to breathe too much into the camera. The vapour freezes in the camera and can be very nasty especially in the lens. So keep a good distance to the camera and if you use the viewfinder, try not to breathe while looking through it.
We are very excited to announce our newest northern light adventure: Abisko Autumn Aurora Adventure photography trip.
For the first time ever, you will have the chance to join us in Abisko National Park during the warmest time of the aurora season.
This once in a lifetime trip will allow you to experience the northern lights in the relative warmth of Autumn and will provide you with an opportunity to photograph the auroras reflecting in the beautiful rivers, lakes and streams of the Arctic.
How many times have we heard this said about Northern Scandinavia?
There is a perception that 24 hours of darkness falls north of the Arctic Circle for the entire winter. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even in deepest December, when the sun doesn’t appear above the horizon for several weeks, there is what the locals call “blue time” or “kaamos”, an eerie yet magical grey/blue light that is neither night nor day.
Take somewhere like Muonio in Finnish Lapland. Muonio is a small village situated in North East Finnish Lapland and, according to people who know far more about these things than we do, the sun will disappear below the horizon on 10 December 2013 and reappear on 02 January 2014 (for 32 minutes).
It’s that time of year again, when the Northern Lights have begun to make an appearance across the Arctic sky. If these spectacular displays are anything to go by it looks like we are in for a real treat this Aurora season.
These images were taken only two nights ago (21st August) in Harriniva by Northern Lights guide and photographer Antti Pietikäinen. This certainly makes us very excited as our first autumn Northern Lights holiday departures are only weeks away!
Go in search of the Aurora Borealis! To see our selection of autumn Northern Lights holidays click here - but be quick as we have limited spaces left!
Articles by month
- Sue Mcdonald (1)
- Ali Mclean (56)
- Amy Hope (6)
- Joanna Robertson (4)
- Barry Nolan (1)
- Amy Walkington-Gray (3)
- Dawn Kitson (2)
- Jono Archer (4)
- Katrina Seator (2)
- Graham Hughes (4)
- Katharina Rogalski (1)
- Dawn Kitson (1)
- Sarah Whale (1)
- Ben Murg (1)
- Andy Marshall (5)
- Dan Fleming (1)
- Jenni Miekle (4)
- Alex Charlton (3)
- Allan Cooper (4)
- Matt Robinson (3)
- Mark McFaul (25)
- Lauren Wiggett (1)
- Kirsty Wood (14)
- Caitlin Varley (3)
- Niall McMahon (1)
- Jade McKay (1)
Receive ideas and offers
Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive weekly inspiring travel ideas and offers.