(Aurora Safari Camp/PA)
(Aurora Safari Camp/PA)

These are the best new ways to see the northern lights this season

From hot air balloons to mobile meals, hunting the aurora is more fun than ever before, says Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall
Thursday 21 October 2021 10:30

Days are darker and considerably colder, but winter promises one great delight: an opportunity to see the northern lights. Already, there have been good reports of strong activity with some solar flares strong enough to show up as far south as the UK.

There are no guarantees, of course, but gambling is all part of the fun. And with several exciting new activities available for this season, aurora hunts have even greater appeal.

Walking in the air

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One of the downsides of searching for the aurora in Finland is coping with chilling temperatures that can easily dip down to minus 25C. Remedying the problem, the Iso-Syöte hotel have constructed a glass panel walkway offering panoramic views of the aurora and surrounding landscape. Sleep in traditional log cabins and rooms spread throughout the forest – or opt for the Bear Cave suite, with interior walls made from stone, pine and lichen. Located in Finland’s southernmost fell, 90 miles from the Arctic Circle, the opportunities for aurora viewing are excellent.

How: Best Served Scandinavia (0207 664 2241; best-served.co.uk) offers a four-night half-board stay from £880pp per person (two sharing) including return flights to Rovaniemi and transfers.

Following a road less travelled

(Visit Iceland/PA)

Clear skies and a lack of light pollution are essential for aurora viewing, so it’s good to get as far off the beaten track as possible. Although thousands of tourists head to southern Iceland every year, few venture to the remote Westfjords region. Historically, roads have been badly paved and difficult but a new route – the Westfjords Way – opens up the isolated area. Measuring 950km long, it runs through fjords, waterfalls and mountains.How: Hire a camper van for a flexible journey and follow vedur.is for the latest aurora forecasts. From £76 per day off peak; happycampers.is

Hot air balloons in the cold

Balloon rides in the Arctic (DTW/PA)

According to Sami folklore, if you listen hard enough it’s possible to hear the aurora pop and crackle. Take the chance to tune in by getting up close on a hot air balloon, an exciting new activity set to launch in Swedish Lapland in February 2022. Organised by a company who run ballooning experiences in Kenya’s Masai Mara, the evening trips will use balloons tethered to one spot for optimal aurora viewing (£199). For a longer trip, take the morning ride above the snow covered landscapes of the Råne River Valley and its frozen lakes and forests, keeping an eye out for wildlife far below (£510).How: Stay at the company’s own luxury Arctic glampsite, Aurora Safari Camp, to be close to the action. A three-night stay with return airport transfers starts from £2,219 per person (two sharing). aurorasafaricamp.com.

Aurora-lit dinners

(DTW/PA)

Dine out on fine food beneath a ceiling of electrifying views with the new Aurora Hideaway Dinners. The small mobile restaurant moves around the Luleå archipelago depending on cloud cover and light viewing opportunities. Travel out by snowmobile to reach the evening’s chosen spot and spend 2.5 hours enjoying a three-course meal (from £208 per person). Combine it with a stay at Brandon Lodge which offers a wide choice of winter adventures including husky sledding, a snowmobile forest safari and a Northern Lights sled tour.

How: Discover The World (01737 214 250;discover-the-world.com) offer a four-night full-board stay from £1,323 per person, including excursions. Flights extra.

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