Witnessing the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, in the Arctic Circle is on nearly every traveller’s wish list.
This natural electric phenomenon lights up the sky with a spectacular, colourful light display. Not many people have heard of the Southern Lights, or aurora australis, which is the Antarctic Circle’s equivalent, but they are just as breath-taking. Here are our tips on the best locations to visit, to experience the magic of the Northern and Southern Lights.
Fairbanks, Alaska, is conceivably the most highly acclaimed place in the United States to take in the beautiful sight of the northern lights. With its own forecast system and visitor tours, Alaska is the ideal base to see the magnificent lights. Plan your visit between late-August and mid-April for optimal viewing.
With very little light pollution and its northern latitude, Canada is the perfect site for aurora viewing. Some would argue that Yellowknife is the best location in the world for viewing the aurora borealis. As the nights grow longer, the green, red and mauve lights of aurora borealis are absolutely brilliant in their skip across the sky. The best time to see the lights here, is mid-August to late-April.
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
The Northern Lights can even be seen from the Scottish Highlands. Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in Britain, boasts a dark sky, high ground and very little light pollution. As a result, Cairngorms is one of the few, and best, locations to see the Northern Lights in the United Kingdom. To catch this magnificent display in Scotland, you need a clear, dark winter night. We would recommend aiming for between October and March.
Tasmania and New Zealand
Less well known than The Northern Lights, the Southern Lights, or aurora australis, are equally as impressive. They are not talked about as much, because there are substantially fewer locations in which you can see auroras from the southern hemisphere.
For the best chance of watching the Southern Lights, visit Tasmania, Australia, or New Zealand, where a dark sky will help you see any auroras over the beautiful southern horizon. You can view the Southern Lights all year round, but your best prospects are near equinoxes.