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Compiled and written by Laura Iisalo.
Photo by Visit Finland.
Chasing the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights – also known as the Aurora Borealis – have fascinated people throughout the ages. Many travel across the world for a glimpse of the dazzling light show which the Finns call revontulet (fox fire), as legend claims the coloured light is created by an arctic fox setting the sky on fire with its tail. Many believe the northern lights even bring good fortune – it’s just that nobody can accurately predict when they will show up or how long the appearance will last.
Spotting the Aurora Borealis requires luck, but also darkness. The best time for Aurora-spotting is when most of us are asleep. When Arctic SnowHotel manager Ville Haavikko noticed that some of his guests were worried about going to sleep because they didn’t want to forgo their chances of seeing the show, he came up with a novel solution. He hired two guards to stay up all night and notify visitors when the magic happens. “Our guests have been pleased with the service. If they’re staying in the glass igloo, all they have to do is open their eyes when the Aurora alarm goes off,” Haavikko says.
To make the chase a little more predictable, there is also a free mobile app called Ylläs Aurora, which allows users to notify each other when the northern lights appear in the Ylläs area. The app shows the location on a map, inviting others to come and join in. Throughout the season – which lasts from September until March – travellers to Lapland can also join a guided Aurora Borealis Adventure arranged by Lapland Safaris, which includes a riverside walk and a hot cuppa by the campfire. With a little luck, the arctic fox will reward patient audiences by swishing its magical tail across the sky.
This article was first published in the November 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.