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.