The Day I Saw Northern Lights in Lapland

Sunset at Valle de la Luna, Atacama Desert
November 13, 2015
Vasa Museum – Stockholm, Sweden
November 28, 2015

The Day I Saw Northern Lights in Lapland

northern lights in northern lapland

It’s Always Sunny in Northern Lapland (Well, Sort Of)

We flew to Ivalo from Helsinki. Then we drove 198km north (69.9000° N) to visit a small village called Utsjoki. There are 1,200 people living in the district, which is combining three villages. Utsjoki alone has a population of about 800. If you ask me why I was in northern Lapland in November, I would answer with two words: northern lights. There is more to it, but the northern lights are a pretty good reason to be near the north pole in winter. I traveled to the Alaskan Arctic two winters ago and Iceland the year before to catch the northern lights (my childhood dream!), successfully, I might add. I would do anything to re-live those glorious nights.

People always fear that the winter in the Arctic is too dark and cold. Depressing, in one word. How can people live in a place like this? Granted, there are some days you won’t see the face of the sun. You need an extra dosage of vitamin D. The temperature often goes down to negative 40. But, certainly the long nights of northern Lapland is nothing but dark.

In Utsjoki and other areas of northern Lapland, it’s known that 200 days a year you can see the northern lights. The only exception being the days with the midnight sun or cloudy weather. When the solar wind is very strong, which is the source of the aurora borealis, the light explosion is as strong as the mid-day sun. The snow reflects all the light, which makes it even brighter.

We traveled all around northern Lapland, from Utsjoki to Nuorgam to Norwegian Lapland to catch the northern lights. Unfortunately Scandinavia was covered with clouds these days, so we didn’t get to see the lights every night. The temperature is not cold enough yet to disperse the clouds. But even the green glow behind the clouds was magical. Despite the weather, thanks to the effort of our friends in Utsjoki Aurora Holidays, we got to see some amazing shows.

Our nights were certainly nothing but dark in northern Lapland.

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki - that's the reindeer fence

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki – that’s the reindeer fence

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki - that's the reindeer fence

Northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki – that’s the reindeer fence

Northern lights over the Teno River, which is the border between Finland and Norway.

Northern lights over the Teno River, which is the border between Finland and Norway.

Northern lights over the Teno River, which is the border between Finland and Norway.

Northern lights over the Teno River, which is the border between Finland and Norway.

My favorite part of the northern lights - from the pole!

My favorite part of the northern lights – from the pole!

Sometimes it glows purple and pink. Rarely.

Sometimes it glows purple and pink. Rarely.

The city light from Utsjoki, northern lights, and Pleiades.

The city light from Utsjoki, northern lights, and Pleiades.

The fastest and craziest lights I've ever seen. We only saw it from the window of cloud but the light was so fast and colorful. Purple, even!

The fastest and craziest lights I’ve ever seen. We only saw it from the window of cloud but the light was so fast and colorful. Purple, even!

A short road trip to Tana Bru, Norway

A short road trip to Tana Bru, Norway

Weak northern lights over Teno River

Weak northern lights over Teno River

While waiting for the lights...

While waiting for the lights…

We went all the way to Lakselv, Norway to catch the small bit of clear sky.

We went all the way to Lakselv, Norway to catch the small bit of clear sky.

Lights over the fjord.

Lights over the fjord.

Lights over the fjord.

Lights over the fjord.

Long exposure in front of Norwegian traditional sauna in Lakselv, Norway

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

7 Comments

  1. Oh Juno – these look so beautiful! I’m basically insanely jealous 😉

  2. Cest La Vibe says:

    I was really looking forward to seeing the Northern Lights in Montana this year but my timing was bad.

  3. Andrew says:

    what a wonderful experience. thanks for sharing – i cant imagine in the sky even with your stunning pictures!

  4. Great post, amazing photos! I’m so jelaous. Seeing Northen Lights has been the number one item on my bucket list for so long. I’m obsessed with them. I know one day I will definitely see them and that day will be one of the best days of my life. 🙂

  5. […]   Sometimes it takes a little more effort to see mother nature’s display. In theory, northern Lapland (Finland) is an excellent place to see the northern lights. That’s why we based ourselves in the Utsjoki, Finland for the week. Our riverside cottage was a perfect place to relax and watch the snow pile up and river gradually freeze. We spent our days learning about the Sami culture, going dog mushing, and hiking/snowshoeing to the top of the fells. Our nights were spent around the campfire eating reindeer meat anytime we weren’t out chasing the northern lights. […]

  6. […] main objective for coming here was to see the northern lights (the tour provider’s name, after all, is Aurora Holidays!) But as you’ll see […]

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