Our Northern Lights Blog
Dog Sledding and the Northern Lights in Greenland
As Product and Operations Manager here at the Aurora Zone, I have been a regular visitor to the more northerly and remote corners of Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway for many years. At first, the thought of travelling to places that lie north of the Arctic Circle was somewhat daunting but with growing experience it is something with which I have grown very comfortable and I occasionally found myself digging around for evermore remote places to visit.
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.
As with most of our guests, my first impression of Lapland in the winter is one of awe that so much snow can possibly exist in one place.
I was never fortunate to go skiing or anything like that when I was younger, so for me this was the first time I had seen what real winter can look like.
It is obvious when you travel to somewhere like Nellim in Finnish Lapland that the snow in the UK is really rather pitiful and quite literally pales into comparison to the thick deep white snow of Lapland. It covers everything – roads, paths, rooftops, trees, frozen lakes, giving the whole place a magical, pristine and beautiful feel.
One of the bests parts about working for The Aurora Zone is we are privileged enough to get the chance to witness one of nature’s most magnificent spectacles.
But just to put your mind at rest it is not like other industries whereby once you are on the inside you know the secrets so you can be quietly smug when you see the average Joe trying to achieve the same.
No, there is no magic aurora switch that only travel aurora specialists have access to….we have to go through the same trials and tribulations as our clients, ‘Will they, won’t they appear’, of, ‘Is that shadow? Is that cloud moving? Can I see a hint of green?’
Prior to my recent trip to Sweden everyone asked what it was that I was most looking forward to and almost every time my response was to see the Northern Lights of course! As soon as I landed at the airport after a short 2 hour 30 minute direct flight the adventure began.
With a full agenda of activities to keep me busy during my trip I started off with a snowshoe hike through the snowy forest guided by a wilderness guide.
As I strapped the snowshoes on to the bottom of my winter boots he explained the route we would be taking and what to expect as we ventured into the wilderness.
Before my recent trip to Sweden my knowledge of Swedish cuisine was limited to the chef on the Muppet Show.
Who would of thought that in a mere four days I would have sampled everything from moose carpaccio, smoked reindeer pasta and delicious Arctic Char caught freshly out of the nearest lake.
And I haven't even mentioned the cinnamon buns yet...
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.
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