Barry's blog posts
Warning! Contains scenes of nudity
Temperatures in March tend to be milder than in the very heart of winter. Okay, it’s still not exactly tropical and only the hardiest of souls would brave the elements like our hero below. However, Aurora hunting requires patience and the chances are that you will be warmer waiting in March than in say December or January.
Most people when they visit Swedish Lapland head to the far North to Abisko and Kiruna or spend time around the Lulea Archipelago in the south. In doing so they miss the secret that is Tärendö and the Forest Hotel. Location wise you have to look closely at a map. Tärendö is located on the Tärendö river which is a tributary of the larger Tornio rover. Follow this river north and you will pass the Ice Hotel at Jukkasjarvi. The village has a population of 208 people so befriending every inhabitant on Facebook is not going to exceed your ‘friends’ quota. The town, however, does boast one Olympic Gold medallist in Cross-Country skiing!
I was travelling as part of my 50th birthday when I visited Tarendo.
I love my job because it takes me to my favourite part of the world, Northern Scandinavia on a regular basis.
I’ve been to Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland on numerous occasions and at many different times of year.
I love the autumn colours and the mind-fuddling 24 hour daylight midnight sun of the summer months. I love the heart of winter when the days are short and the grey/blue light of the Polar nights predominates. I love early January when the sun reappears above the horizon and bathes the snowy white landscapes in a pink glow.
Most of all however, I love early spring and whilst I travel to Scandinavia on business at any time of year, I always holiday there in middle to late March.
“Each culture is unique and traditions are our own wealth, no one else has them” says Heikki Nikula, co-owner and chef of Traditional Hotel Kultahovi in Inari, northernmost Lapland.
This shows in the food served in Kultahovi’s renowned restaurant.
We’re often asked “when is the best time to travel to Northern Scandinavia?” and it is very difficult to provide a concise response. A quick straw poll amongst my colleagues revealed a diversity of responses to what is evidently a highly subjective topic.
Some are fascinated by the midnight sun and savour the warmer temperatures of summer whilst others prefer the stunning autumnal colours of September, known locally as “Ruska”. Unsurprisingly, there was a big call from the parents in the office voting for either the December magic of mid-winter, February half term and Easter.
Personally, I always head to Finnish Lapland somewhere between mid-March and early April and, in many a conversation with the locals, it seems that they too favour this time of year.
Late March to early April is a time of change and renewal in Lapland. You get the best snow of the winter because by now, it has been falling for anything up to six months. The perfect snow provides the perfect canvas for warmer temperatures and stunning ice-blue skies that stretch endlessly away over the forests and still frozen lakes to a far and distant horizon. The air is as pure as anything you could ever hope to breath and the days become almost visibly longer. Yeah!
Forget that myth about it being permanently dark above the Arctic Circle; by mid-March it is light until around 9pm and Aurora hunters have to go out increasingly late for their Northern Lights fix.
Nevertheless, my experience is that is worth waiting for darkness to fall because the great thing about March and early April is that the improving weather very often means less cloud cover and it is cloud cover, not a full moon, that every Aurora hunter hates. Add in a theory that the sun is more active around the spring equinox and you have a pretty good time to head north.
If you do, you may very well see me there too. Give me a wave as you pass me driving a team of dogs through the snowy forests or ice fishing on a frozen lake surrounded by pristine and perfectly silent nature.
Most importantly, once darkness has fallen, try not to bump into me or anybody else for that matter because it is all too easy to do when your gaze is fixed skywards.
You could say that the Northern Lights have become Lapland’s equivalent to mobile phones; nobody these days seems to be able to take their eyes off them regardless of where they are walking or heading. So, no matter when you travel, make sure you watch where you’re stepping as you marvel at those overhead lights.
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