Watching the Northern Lights in Lapland, at Riisitunturi National Park in Posio
Photo by: Metsähallitus | Kahtelis Oy

Northern Lights – Your Lapland Guide to Aurora Borealis

Looking for more information on finding and capturing auroras? We’ve put together a handy guide to help you get the most out of your Northern Lights trip to Finnish Lapland.

If you come to northern Finland in mid-June, you might be surprised to learn there are no Northern Lights. There’s not even nights anymore. To help you get the most out of your Northern Lights experience, here’s a guide packed with tips from local guides and photographers on how you can find the firefoxes and take a killer photo or three.

When can you see the Northern Lights in Lapland?

Let’s do a small test. Look out the window. If you’re in the Arctic, and it’s dark outside, you have a 50/50 or better chance of seeing the Northern Lights on any given night. The farther north you are, the more likely you are to see the whirling whorls with you own eyes. In other words, autumn and winter are the best times to see the auroras.

Of course, the Northern Lights are like the weather … in fact, they are weather, sent to us by the sun. Predicting auroras is more a science than a guessing game, but there’s never any guarantee, no matter where you are or when you visit Lapland in winter.

When can you see auroras?

Dark Skies, Crossed Fingers

The best months to see the Northern Lights are usually September and March, when there’s around 12 hours of day and night. However, your chances of seeing auroras is still pretty good in between, as winter in Lapland is full of starry skies and long nights.

Make sure you bring some coffee, if you’re an early bird, as the best time of night to see them is generally between 9pm and 1am, though they are often witnessed at all hours. The only necessary ingredients are Arctic locales and dark skies. Aurora guides will often take you out to a secluded spot, where you can enjoy the winter night, a campfire, and a cup of coffee or six while you wait.

How can I get an aurora forecast? 

Aurora forecasts are a popular way to keep tabs on those slithery specters. There are many websites and tracking services like Aurora Alert that let you follow the auroras.

Finland also offers more localized aurora alerts, like the Pyhä Aurora Alerts and the Luosto Aurora Alerts. Many hotels and most glass igloos also offer personalized aurora alerts, so you don’t have to worry about sleeping away while the auroras dance overhead.

Northern Lights over Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland
Photo by: Visit Rovaniemi
#darkskies and Northern Lights over Ruka-Kuusamo in Finnish Lapland
Photo by: Simo Vilhunen | Ruka-Kuusamo
The Northern Lights, as seen from Arctic Fox Igloos in Ranua, northern Finland
Photo by: Marko Junttila | Visit Ranua

How do I prepare for an aurora hunt in Lapland?

For most of the year, hunting auroras isn’t as easy as grabbing your camera and heading into the dark. Winters in northern Finland range from mild, when the temperature drops just below zero, and the snow is wet and crunchy, to -40°C, when your eyelashes freeze shut, and your lips chap just from the thought of going outside.

How should you prepare for an aurora hunt?

Prep is key

Bring layers, food & water, buddy-system, flashlights, cellphones, hand warmers & more. Check our tips to keep warm by dressing right, and read the Aurora Hunter’s check list to keep safe & capture dreamy photos.

How can I photograph auroras in Lapland?

Capturing the Northern Lights for that perfect Instagram post is a challenge, but it’s one that many in Lapland have risen to meet. There are numerous recommendations and details you should consider. Check out our Aurora Hunter checklist to help you prepare for the big night.

How do you photograph auroras?

#darkskies

The easiest way is to go on an aurora safari with an experienced local guide. Many are photographers who can help you get the most out of your camera, whether it’s an expensive DSLR or even your phone.

Watching the Northern Lights in Pyhä, in Lapland Finland
Photo by: Pyhä-Luosto
The Northern Lights over Inari-Saariselkä, in Finnish Lapland
Photo by: Pertti Turunen | Inari-Saariselkä
Watching the auroras with Arctic Circle Safaris in Salla, northern Finland
Photo by: Arctic Circle Safaris | Visit Salla
The auroras over cabins at Arctic Land Adventure, in Lapland, Finland
Photo by: Arctic Land Adventure