The most popular question when booking a trip to see the Northern Lights –when is the best time– does not have a definitive answer. The Northern Lights are a magnificent natural phenomenon that can be seen with the naked eye from late August to mid April. 

At Lights of Vikings, we are experienced Northern Lights guides and can offer the best guide to finding the right time for you to see the Northern Lights. Here is an in-depth guide to when the best time to see the lights is, and when you should book your tour.

Finding the Best Time to See the Northern Lights

Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no singular correct answer to this question, because you can never know where, when and for how long the Northern Lights will appear on any given night. There are many factors that go into seeing the lights and booking a trip to the Arctic Circle. 

The Northern Lights are simply a phenomenon of nature, formed by particles breaking off from the sun, traveling into the atmosphere and scattering towards the poles. We can follow the interaction of these particles within the atmosphere not any further in advance than about two hours before it happens. Sometimes the activity will be very intense and sometimes it will have low intensity. The statistics of these interactions vary every day of the year and year by year as well. 

Factors That Go into the Intensity of the Northern Lights

Although the sun might seem more intense during the equinox periods, there is no evidence that the northern lights will be more intense.

The magnificent photos and videos shared in many promotional platforms often raise expectations for the intensity of the Northern Lights. However, seeing the Northern Lights in person is not as easy as a picture or video might lead you to believe. Even if you come across an intense period of activity, the Northern Lights may not show themselves due to other factors. 

We follow the intensity of the Northern Lights with a system called KP, which is numbered from 0 to 9. The KP value follows how far the aurora oval extends from north to south at any given moment. Abisko, where our headquarters are, is located within the aurora oval at KP 1. In Abisko, we don’t need a high KP to see the Northern Lights.

Read our “A complete guide to the northern lights” to learn more about KP Index.

How to Decide When to Travel to See the Northern Lights

What makes the Northern Lights fascinating is that it is not easy to observe this natural phenomenon and what the lights will look like on any given night is truly up to chance. For this reason, you can easily set your travel to see the Northern Lights for any date between September and April. From September through April, there is no “best month” to see the lights.

The best way to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights is to get your information from a local guide and rely on an experienced tour company to guide you on your trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights. 

Onur Çağan Aygün
Onur Çağan Aygün

Co-founder of Lights of Vikings

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