“Fires over which a tribe of dwarfs, half the length of a canoe paddle and so strong they caught whales with their hands, boiled blubber.”
“Rare, red Auroras”. It sounds like something Michael Palin’s Pontius Pilate might have struggled with in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. However, for our ancestors, red Auroras were nothing to laugh at, for they were almost universally perceived as portents of doom.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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?!”
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.
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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