The Northern Lights: Trip the light fantastic

With another solar maximum predicted this winter, enhance your Aurora experience with a novel sleepover

What's the attraction?

The Northern Lights are one of the greatest spectacles on Earth and Nasa predicts this winter to be another "solar maximum", meaning increased cosmic activity and better chances of seeing those notoriously elusive displays of ethereal red and green lights. But you'll have to travel to the far north of the planet to do so. Happily, a range of off-beat accommodation options is available this season, promising to keep you warm and entertained while waiting for the magic.

Aurora Bubbles

New for this season and reminiscent of a science-fiction film set, these giant, transparent, inflatable bubbles are planted deep in Finnish Lapland, in prime position to catch sight of the Aurora Borealis. Better still, they're heated, and are big enough to fit a private bathroom and double bed, meaning there's every chance you can watch one of nature's greatest displays tucked up in bed. Daytime activities include sleigh rides, ice-fishing and learning about the local Sami culture.

The Aurora Zone (01670 785 012; theaurorazone.com) offers a five-day "Muotka Fellside Auroras" trip; the price of £1,650 per person includes flights, full-board accommodation – including one night in an Aurora Bubble – and all activities. Departures December to March 2014.

Frozen ship

Watch the Northern Lights from the world's only ice-bound ship hotel. The 120ft schooner is trapped in a frozen fjord off Spitsbergen, in northern Norway's Svalbard archipelago – one of the few places in the world where it's possible to see the Aurora during daylight hours. It has 10 well-equipped cabins, two lounges, a restaurant and licensed bar. Accessible only by snowmobile or dog sleigh and miles away from civilisation, this is a real Arctic Aurora adventure, but with a warm welcome at the end.

Magnetic North Travel (0845 5195 242; magneticnorthtravel.com) has a four-day Northern Lights Arctic Adventure; the price of £1,795 per person includes flights, accommodation, most meals, guide and snowmobile tour. Departures March 2014.

Northern Lights train

Take a luxury train across Russia in search of the Northern Lights. In the company of an expert astronomer, travel from St Petersburg to Moscow on board the Golden Eagle, which features ensuite, panoramic-windowed cabins and a fine-dining restaurant. Stop off along the way for specialist Aurora excursions and visits to the Unesco World Heritage city of Vladimir and the Golden Ring town, Velikiy.

Wexas Travel (020 7838 5892; wexas.com) offers a 10-day luxury New Year and The Northern Lights rail trip on the Golden Eagle; £6,395 per person includes six nights' full-board accommodation on the train, additional nights in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, transfers and activities. Departs 28 December.

Ice and tree hotel

Located 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in Swedish Lapland, the Ice Hotel is built from scratch each year. This season, among other habitable exhibits, it will showcase a "snow Tube" to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground.

Simply Sweden (0845 8900 300; simplysweden.co.uk) offers a five-day trip, split between the Ice Hotel and the Tree Hotel – five stylish treehouse cabins nearby that offer the chance to catch impressive celestial displays. The price of £1,645 per person includes flights and B&B accommodation. Departures December to March 2014.

Arctic cruise

Set sail from Reykjavik in Iceland to Scoresby Sund in eastern Greenland: one of the world's longest fjord systems and the setting for some of the best and most reliable displays of the Northern Lights; a luxury cruiser, miles away from light pollution, means optimum viewing conditions each night. Spend your days exploring the Arctic tundra, spotting wildlife and discovering the remote Inuit communities living nearby.

Quark Expeditions (0808 120 2333; quarkexpeditions.com) has a 14-day Northern Lights cruise; the price of £4,465 per person includes all-inclusive accommodation and most activities. Flights not included. Departs 22 September 2014.

Glass igloos

The glass igloos of the Kakslauttanen Holiday Village, deep in the snow-cloaked forests of Saariselka, Finland, are heated and provide uninterrupted views of the night sky.

Discover the World (01737 214 291; discover-the-world.co.uk) has a four-day trip that includes two nights in a log cabin, fitted with a private sauna and wood-burning fireplace, and one night spent under the duvet in a glass igloo, waiting for the lights to appear. The price of £993 per person includes flights, transfers and half board.

Aurora photography trips

Witnessing the Northern Lights is sublime, but photographing them can be tricky. These specialist Aurora photography trips will take you to prime viewing locations, in the company of expert photographers, and help you to capture that perfect image.

Taber Holidays (01274 875 199; taberhols.co.uk) has a new five-day "Great Aurora Hunt" photography trip to the Lofoten Islands, Norway, staying in fishermen's cabins and exploring the culture and history of this remote and beautiful archipelago.The price of £1,575 per person includes half board, workshops and excursions. Flights not included. Scheduled departures until 14 March 2014.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris (001 206 463 5383; photosafaris.com) offers an eight-day trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, to photograph the Aurora Borealis, the World Ice Art Competition and the North American Championship Sled Dog Races. The price of £2,663pp includes accommodation, most meals and tuition, but not flights. Departs 3 March 2014.

Wild Photography Holidays (01630 647828; wildphotographyholidays.com) has a new 10-day Iceland Northern Lights workshop, taking in many of the country's photographic highlights including Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Jokulsarlon Lagoon. The price of £2,250 includes all meals, accommodation and photographic tuition. Departures February, March and September 2014.

Insider information

"Always travel in hope, rather than expectation, of seeing the Northern Lights. Base your holiday around daytime activities so the Aurora itself comes as a bonus. For the best chances of seeing the lights, head north – but not too far. They are most frequently visible between about 66°N and 69°N. Also avoid heavy light pollution from towns and large ski resorts. Most organised trips include cold-weather gear, but the best investment you can make is a pair of thermal long johns." Alistair McLean, Founder of The Aurora Zone (theaurorazone.com)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory