If I could be anywhere right now, it would be Finland; over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle at the Holiday Village Valle Hotel, looking out over the frozen Teno River towards Norway on the opposite bank.
The people of Finland refer to the north of Finland as Finnish Lapland; in the north of Finnish Lapland lies Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality of Finland which borders Norway. Just outside the main village, this cosy base offers a wonderful escape, one which I was lucky enough to experience in December 2018.
In the current situation, while our bucket lists are on hold, we find ourselves with more time than ever to dream about our future travel destinations.
Here at The Aurora Zone, our team has been incredibly lucky over the years to spend a large portion of their time travelling North, researching locations and making friends with the locals, to find the very best places for our Northern Lights Holidays. We have had some amazing adventures along the way, and our memory buckets are overflowing with stories that bring us a sense of joy at these difficult times.
So, while we have plenty of time to reflect, we thought we would bring you some of our favourite memories, and 'where we would be if we could be anywhere in the world right now'.
Founder and Managing Director - Ali McLean
We know Easter weekend will be a little different for us all this year and although our original plans will have changed, there’s no reason why we can’t indulge in learning about Easter traditions from across the world. In this blog, we look at how Finland celebrates the occasion with its own unique culture and traditions.
You may even find a new tradition to try in your own home this Easter!
A view like no other
The remote Finnish landscape, one of the last remaining wilderness regions in Europe, is an enchanting sight to behold. Luckily with a stay in a Glass Igloo, you never have to take your eyes off this spectacular scenery as the half-glass roof provides a wonderful vantage point, right above your bed. What’s more, as Finland witnesses the Northern Lights on roughly 200 evenings of the year, what better way to search the skies long into the night than from your cosy Glass Igloo?
As one of the most sought-after accommodation options, many of our holidays offer a stay in a Glass Igloo in Finland. You could opt to start your Northern Lights holiday in style with your first night in these impressive structures or you could top off an end to a brilliant trip by spending your last night searching for the Aurora from the comfort of your cabin. We even have options should you wish to spend the duration of your trip in a Glass Igloo.
Though we highly recommend taking part in as many dedicated Northern Lights activities as you can, a Glass Igloo gives you the wonderful opportunity to continue your search for the magical display as late as you would like! Scroll to learn more about these memorable accommodation options.
Although December didn’t provide the white Christmas that many of us in the UK were perhaps hoping for, we are pleased to say that Lapland didn’t not disappoint on that front. In fact, the snow-covered landscapes of Finnish and Swedish Lapland helped make December another brilliant month for our #AuroraZoneMoments competition!
There is nothing more Finnish than a sauna and because of this, all of us here at The Aurora Zone are particularly excited by the brand-new Arctic Elements Lakeside Spa at Jeris in Finnish Lapland! Pronounced ‘Sow-na’, the word literally means ‘a small building for bathing’, and is the only Finnish word to have made it into the everyday English lexicon. Some Finns believe the sauna is such an integral part of their culture that in order to understand Finland and its people, you simply have to experience it.
Here at The Aurora Zone it is fair to say that we love Christmas! In fact, as the snow has started to fall in Finnish Lapland over the past few days, many of us in the office have begun our countdowns in preparation of the big day.
However, despite being a great time to celebrate with friends and family, it always seems to be over far too quickly, leaving many of us trying to fight off the dreaded post-Christmas blues as we amble back into work after enjoying food, drink and plenty of festivities!
Forest holidays have been getting a lot of airtime recently, becoming a trending travel search term on Google and go-to way to describe leafy dwellings. In essence, a forest holiday is an escape away from the hustle and bustle of your hectic lifestyle and lands you in the wilderness to help you reconnect with yourself whilst enjoying some fresh air and much-needed quiet time!
Nomophobia is the fear of being without or being unable to use one's mobile phone. If you find yourself constantly attached to your phone, forever scrolling your social media feeds, or have an irrational fear of your battery level dropping below 20% - you’re in need of a detox!
If you are seeking a peaceful holiday to unwind, don't just go off-the-beaten-track, travel out of season to uncover one of the best-kept secrets of Northern Lights hunting; autumn in Finnish Lapland.
Experience an autumn break in the heart of Lapland where the landscape is ablaze with a kaleidoscope of earthy hues, inky Arctic skies are bursting with celestial ripples of dancing light and daytime hours provide exquisite opportunities. See below for the experiences you could enjoy this autumn in Finnish Lapland.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite extensively over the last three years working with the Aurora Zone and have enjoyed some truly memorable experiences. What I have had less luck with, however, is the Northern Lights. Whilst my colleagues kept coming back from trips with tales of majestic Auroras, I seem to have hit periods of cloud and stories of ‘you should have been here last night it was incredible’.
Valentine’s Day is all about showing your special someone exactly how much they mean to you and celebrating your time together. Make Valentine’s Day truly remarkable this year and go in search of the most romantic of natural wonders; the spectacular Aurora Borealis!
From unbelievable locations to once-in-a-lifetime Northern Lights experiences, here’s how to have an unforgettable Valentine’s searching for the Aurora Borealis:
A question we are asked almost every day here at The Aurora Zone is “when is the best time to see the Northern Lights?”. Now, when dealing with a natural phenomenon such as the Aurora Borealis, it is pretty hard to answer this question with any degree of certainty as its appearance can rarely be predicted accurately much more than a few hours in advance.
If you are like us, then you will probably know the feeling of watching as the excitement builds and builds towards the 25th December before it crashes down again on the 26th- that is of course until the 31st December!
Now, we love a New Year’s party as much as the next person and some of the fireworks displays on offer can be wonderful. However, if you really want to celebrate in style and enjoy a light show like no other then there really is only one thing to do – book yourself a New Year Northern Lights escape!
It may still only be October but the first snow has already started to fall in Lapland and winter is well on its way! Here at The Aurora Zone, this news fills us with excitement as in our opinion there is something quite special about chasing after the Northern Lights in spectacular snow-covered landscapes.
However, something that has to be even more special than hunting the Aurora in the snowy Arctic wilderness is the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in your very own winter wonderland on your very own festive Northern Lights adventure!
Aurora hunting has become a fine art and there are now many, many different ways of chasing down Mother Nature’s mesmerising light show. From snowmobile safaris to dog sledding and snowshoeing, the secret is to find a vantage point as far removed from any light pollution as possible.
All of these activities are fabulously fun and entertaining but, in the heart of an Arctic winter, they can get pretty chilly even when you are wearing the thermal clothing we provide on our trips.
We are blue in the face from telling anybody who will listen that autumn is an excellent time to search for the Aurora Borealis. Scientific research and findings from various esteemed Solar Physicists repeatedly point to increased geomagnetic activity (and hence, Auroral displays) in the weeks around the autumn and spring equinoxes.
The big question therefore, is; has this new aurora hunting season started well?
Timo Halonen and his wife Anne run Hotel Korpikartano an idyllic hotel in the breath-taking location of Menesjärvi in Finnish Lapland. Timo has a passion for photography and loves being out with his camera. We caught up with him after another fantastic Northern Lights season to talk about his love for photography and the magical Northern Lights.
For those of you that don’t know, the Sámi are the indigenous people of the Lapland region. They were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who made their home in this unique part of northern Scandinavia approximately 4000 years ago, making them one of the oldest cultures in Europe.
The Northern Lights season may be at a close as summer draws nearer, but fear not the Auroras will not be gone forever. In fact, here at The Aurora Zone, we think that the beginning of the Northern Lights season in autumn is a pretty special time of year and arguably one of the best times to go on an Aurora hunting adventure.
Another Aurora hunting season is drawing to a close in Northern Scandinavia. The Northern Lights will still be visible well into April but, during the 24-hour daylight of summer’s Midnight Sun, all an Aurora hunter can do is catch up on lost sleep and long for the darker nights of autumn.
Travelling to the Arctic can be daunting, especially when you check the forecast and see that the temperature is around -19°C or lower *shudder*. It is perhaps unsurprising then that our Client Liaison team are repeatedly asked the same questions from concerned clients that are due to travel to the Arctic Circle - “What should we pack?” “What are the best brands for winter clothing?” “What will be provided for us?” “Will we be warm enough?!”
Here at The Aurora Zone, we’re extremely fond of the Finnish people and especially the Sámi community, who are the indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia. So, imagine our excitement when we heard that BBC Two are doing a one-off boxing day show all about the lifestyle of the Sámi people and their reindeer herding heritage.
Our expert Aurora guide and CEO of the new Northern Lights Village in Saariselkä, Markku Inkilä is a self-proclaimed Aurora nut. He lives and breathes the Northern Lights and is rarely happier than when he is capturing them on camera. His photos have been published in the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, and on hundreds of websites around the world.
We have big news here at The Aurora Zone and we couldn’t wait a moment longer to share it with you. Our good friends Mari and Jouko, two of our longest-standing suppliers, have announced the launch of their brand new wilderness boutique Hotel Nangu, located on the tranquil shores of Lake Inari.
We love it when our suppliers come to visit us regardless of the occasion. So when, while we were dining and enjoying an evening with Mari and Sinnika from Nellim and they described in detail this stunning new hotel in one of our favourite destinations, I am sure you can imagine our elation. Not only this, but it will be opening its doors ready for the coming season!
If you were lucky enough to enjoy one of our Northern Lights holidays to Muotka or Nellim this winter you will be familiar with our representative Ben. We caught up with Ben and here’s what he had to say.
How many times did you see the Northern Lights this winter?
Too many times to count. Every show is different which is what makes it so unique and special. For me, the times when I enjoy them the most is when I can see the different colours and the incredible movement. When it's like that it can't fail to send shivers down your spine.
Credit: Marrku Inkila
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.
Be one of the first to stay in an AURORA BUBBLE!
Nestled in a quiet corner of Finnish Lapland under an endless northern sky the Aurora Bubbles are set to become THE place to watch the Northern Lights shimmering dance.
Ideally located by Lake Inari- you will find yourself in perfect Northern Lights hunting territory.
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).
Image: Markku Inkila
It may seem slightly strange but here at The Aurora Zone, we can’t wait for the end of summer.Yes, summer is lovely with warm, sunny days and long hours of daylight but therein lies our problem....daylight, there is simply too much of it.
Ali rarely forgets to remind us that he founded the UK's first ever Northern Lights holiday brand but behind his self-promoting braggadocio is a genuine pride that The Aurora Zone has been responsible for helping thousands of people tick the Northern Lights off their bucket list.
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