The Northern Lights: the greatest show on earth
Sunday 25 November 2012
Some experts say that 2012-2013 is likely to be the best season in a decade to see the Northern Lights. According to Dr Tony Phillips: "Following some recent years of deep quiet, the sun is waking up again. Solar activity is now trending upward with a maximum expected in early 2013. This means the greatest show on Earth is about to get even better." Conveniently for skiers, the best places to see the aurora are northerly, snow-sure destinations, and the best time of day (so long as it's neither cloudy nor snowing) is 5pm-2am, which fits in well with the hours of après-ski.
Lapland: Inghams (01483 791111; ) offers Northern Lights holidays to the resorts of Saariselka, Yllas and Levi in Finnish Lapland. You can even spend a night in a glass igloo (from £169pppn in Saariselka, £189ppon in Levi, based on two sharing, plus base price below). The company has a week's half-board at the Holiday Club Spa Hotel, Saariselka, departing Gatwick or Manchester on 2 December, for £495 per person including transfers.
Crystal (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk) opts for the Finnish resorts of Iso-Syote and Ruka instead. Packages include a "Lapland activity week" (from £625) which is a value-for-money taster of snowmobiling, dog-sledding, a reindeer safari and snowshoeing, plus skiing and searching for the Northern Lights.
Colorado – via Iceland: The conundrum for those who love great skiing but also want to see the Northern Lights is that those ski areas in Lapland are good, but they're not big or very challenging. By contrast, Colorado is usually not the best place for Northern Light spotting but it is one of the world's greatest ski destinations.
Fortunately Ski Safari (01273 224060; www.skisafari.com) rides to the rescue with a 10-night city and ski holiday to Copper Mountain, Colorado, that includes a three-night stopover in Reykjavik (including Northern Lights and Blue Lagoon excursion). Prices start at £1,345pp with Icelandair flights from Heathrow, Manchester or Glasgow. If you prefer Whistler (whistlerblackcomb.com), Ski Safari offers a package there with an optional three-day add on for Northern Lights-hunting in the Yukon (from £1,999 including seven nights' room-only accommodation in Summit Lodge, Whistler).
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