THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

Not only is Abisko, Swedish Lapland, within the Aurora oval but the surrounding mountains also keep the skies clear and there's barely any light pollution. This is probably the world's best place for the Aurora Borealis.

The Aurora Borealis
  • World’s best place for northern lights

    Abisko National Park, in Swedish Lapland, offers some of the best conditions in the world for northern lights watching. The unique climate of the area keep the skies almost clear, and the light pollution is next to nothing. And here, you also find the Aurora Sky Station.

    Håkan Stenlund
  • When to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland

    Shimmery and magical. The dance of the northern lights is a spectacular sight that we frequently enjoy in Swedish Lapland. Viewing the Aurora Borealis is both a jaw-dropping and mystical experience. But when is the best time to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland?

    Editor
  • Chad chose Abisko

    In 2008 photographer Chad Blakley moved to Abisko to work the summer season. He followed the love of his life: Linnea. They both quickly fell for the breath-taking landscape and the welcoming people in the village. So, Chad and Linnea decided to stay the winter as well. But it would be many more summers and winters in Abisko.

    Håkan Stenlund

ABISKO AND THE AURORA

A cold and clear night, dishwasher and former wedding photographer Chad Blakley crossed a frozen lake in very north of Swedish Lapland – coincidentally, making that night, the start of Abisko as one of the best places on earth for Northern Lights.

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Four awesome venues for northern lights

DANCERS IN THE DARK

This is our favourite dance performance of the year – when Lady Aurora lets her hair down on a pitch-black sky.

Get a glimpse

THE AURORA WHISPERER

Astrophotographer Mia Stålnacke, better known as the influencer @angrytheinch, has a dog named Tellus and a squirrel in the back yard who listens to the name of Galileo. For an astrophotographer, the north of Sweden, offer spectacular opportunities for capturing stunning scenery. This is Mia’s personal story on her relationship with the northern lights. Read the full story

10 COOL PLACES

Here are 10 great spots where the chances of seeing the northern lights are good, and also, awesome places to stay. Go and find out.

Check them out

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

Astrophotographer @angrytheinch rocks one of the most visually stunning Instagram accounts on northern lights and astrophotography. Here she presents her six tips for shooting the Aurora Borealis in Swedish Lapland. Read the full story.

AURORA BOREALIS

Northern lights in Swedish Lapland – all you need to know.

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SKATING UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

The Dutch filmmaker Marco Lubbers had a dream: To go speedskating under the northern lights. And he also wanted to make a film about it. For that, he travelled to Swedish Lapland. Read the full story

All you need to know about the northern lights

Shimmery and magical. Viewing the northern lights, the Aurora Borealis is a jaw-dropping and mystical experience that we frequently enjoy in Swedish Lapland. The magnificence of the oscillating lights in varying shapes and forms dancing across the sky is best experienced first-hand. But when is the best time to see the northern lights?

The lights quickly shift from hesitant and hardly visible veils to sparkling cones, seemingly covering the entire heavens. It may be a myth, but many people claim to have also heard the northern lights at the point of its most intense. One thing is for sure — it is a unique experience to witness, and a fabulous memory to bring back from Swedish Lapland. The celestial light phenomenon, the northern lights or Aurora Borealis, is described merely as the result of the interaction between the solar winds and Earth’s magnetic fields. A spectacular show of colours from neon green to lilac.

Why do northern lights appear?

The solar winds consist of charged particles thrown out into space from the sun. When the particles are attracted by Earth’s magnetic fields, they are drawn towards the poles at extremely high speed. The northern lights appear when the particles collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere whereby the kinetic energy is transformed into visible light. The phenomenon is based on the same principles as a neon light. Two days after the solar wind has been flung into space, it will reach us and make the northern lights possible.

The colours of the northern lights

Mostly, here in the north of Sweden, the northern lights we see are bluish-green but sometimes also including veils of red or lilac. The variations in colours depending on the atoms’ type, speed and charge, but also from what distance you are watching. The most intense northern lights appear at the height of around 100 km above the ground and are 10–30 kilometres tall, but in some cases, they reach up to several hundred kilometres with gradually less intensity.

When to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland?

The best time to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland is between September and March – although we have seen them as early as late-August. Even though the light phenomenon occurs around the clock, it is only visible from Earth when the skies are dark and the ideal time of the day is between 9 pm and 2 am.
The sky has to be clear to witness the northern lights, even though intense auroras may be visible through thin clouds. Perhaps you have heard that odds to see them are better when it is cold? To back this theory is the fact that in clear whether it is usually colder since clouds to some extent have an insulating effect.
For those dreaming of a dramatic white, snowy background, with the northern lights dancing overhead, December and January might be the best time as the long nights add to the splendour of this experience.

While there is no guarantee that you will see the northern lights, your odds increase when you stay for a more extended period. It is said that if you stay in Abisko for three days, you have an 88% chance of seeing the lights – as long as the sky is clear. And it usually is in Abisko.

Best places to see the northern lights

The best chances of witnessing the northern lights are when you find yourself north of the Arctic Circle, at high altitude, preferably in open space without any other sources of light. Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland offers perhaps some of the best conditions in the world for anyone wishing to witness the northern lights. In addition to its location within the Aurora Oval, Abisko is also usually in the so-called rain shadow. Abisko has one of the lowest rainfall climates in the Nordic area, which means more clear nights for aurora spotting — sometimes more than two weeks of consecutive northern lights nights. But remember, regardless of where you are in the region, a clear winter night gives you every reason to look towards the sky.

How to photograph the northern lights?

There are many talented guides and operators offering tours where you get to take photos of the northern lights. Peter Rosén and Chad and Linnea Blakely, both in Abisko, and Sámi photographers Ylva Sarri and Anette Niia, who work around Kiruna, just to mention a few. All of them, and many more besides, can help you get your best shots of the Aurora Borealis. They also organise courses in northern-light photography and very rarely give up before your dream has come true. Read more about how to photograph the northern lights.

How to dress for aurora hunting?

Perhaps one of the most important things, when you go aurora hunting, is to dress appropriately, and by appropriately we mean warm. You won’t want to miss the experience of seeing the northern lights because you had to go inside because you were cold.

The key to dressing for a cold climate is layering. You don’t want to have so many layers that you can’t move, so balance is essential. We recommend at least three layers for staying warm, yet maintaining functionality. The base layer controls warmth and moisture, the mid-layer is to keep the heat in, and the outer layer protects you from the elements. Read more about how to dress for winter in Swedish Lapland.

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