Polar Night is a bit different from the night anywhere else, painting beautiful colors from the Arctic Circle to northernmost Finland.
You wake in the darkness. You make strong coffee and check your Facebook in the darkness. Like. Like. Smiley Face. You suit up in your thick overalls and open the door to a black world. The -20°C wind whips any vestige of sleep from your eyes, and your day begins. And then hours later, the sparkling stars near the eastern horizon vanish as the sky begins to glow. First a deep violet, then blue. At its brightest, the sky glows cotton candy pink, infusing the endless snowy fields with a warmth and energy that belies the temperature. An hour later, the stars begin their twinkling once more, and night falls … at 2:00 in the afternoon.
This is the Polar Night.
WHAT IS THE POLAR NIGHT?
Polar night happens only in the far north and south, and only during winter. Sometime around late November, the northernmost reaches of Lapland, Utsjoki and Kilpsijärvi, get their first taste of polar night when the sun struggles more and more every day to rise. Until one day it doesn’t. Instead, the horizon simply glows for a few hours at midday. Virtually all of Lapland sees polar night by the solstice, December 21. As the snow piles up, January and February offer stunning polar night and polar twilight vistas, as the blank white landscape reflects the deep warm colors of midday. In late January, the sun finally returns for a few minutes above Utsjoki, marking the end of true polar night in Lapland.
POLAR NIGHT INSPIRATION
Like the Northern Lights, the silent wilderness and the buzz of the Midnight Sun, polar night enchants the world. When you see it, you can’t help but let the magic work its wonders. Sometimes it comes in the form of painting or finding blue notes in blue moments. Across northern Finland, the polar night is a cause for celebration and an endless source of inspiration.
Discover what the polar night inspires in you by visiting Utsjoki in late November, when midday lasts for a few hours, highlighting the sparse Arctic landscape in gooey orange. Or spend a few hours by the campfire in a lean-to in Kemijärvi, listening to the silence and watching the sky glow softly on the horizon.
The ski resort at Ruka puts on a light show called the Polar Night Light Festival from mid-January to the beginning of February. The slopes are lit up with collective light art for Night Skiing. The village turns off its neon shop signs and lights up the Kuusamo Water Tower.
When Finns speak of blue moments, we’re not talking about sadness. The blue moment is a brief period at the beginning and end of a winter midday, when the color of polar night, a crystal clear sky and deep snow cover come together for a breathtaking and utterly photogenic experience. This is called the Blue Moment, and photographers love it.
Race the twilight as you climb Luosto fell, reaching the peak just in time to see the snow-capped trees of the national park take on an unearthly appearance, as if you’re peering through the veil into somewhere else. If you’ve got a camera, this is the perfect chance to capture the unforgettable moment.
Photography extraordinaires Tiina Törmänen and Rayann Elzein put together photography workshops in northern Lapland. Follow Tiina into the wilderness of Enontekiö and Kilpisjärvi to capture the warm skies over Finland’s only mountains. In Utsjoki, spend a week with Rayann among true tundra landscapes and experience the cool colors of Polar Night in northernmost Lapland.
And after spending all that time among the fells, snapping your best photos and editing them with love and car, enter the Enontekiö Polar Night Photography Competition. Fingers crossed!