Canada is a country that is so vast it is hard to imagine how much space there is and how few people live there but you need to be aware of this if you are to plan an aurora borealis holiday and not spend all your time traveling.
It’s also hard to predict aurora forecasts accurately more than four or five days ahead so you need to plan your time carefully. Expect to spend a few days waiting for that call from your hotel – “The Lights are playing”. Plan your trip at a time when weather conditions are most in your favour which means going between December and March (brrrrr chilly). Temperatures can fall to 40 below as the skies regularly clear to provide the best conditions. You should also look for look for locations far away from the Pacific coastline oceans as they will have less cloud.
Yellowknife is firmly in the footprint of the Northern Lights and is arguably the Aurora Capital of the World!
Yellowknife, the largest city in North West Territories has a population of some 19,000 people. It’s said to be the aurora capital of the world. Because of its location, relative to the aurora oval, the footprint where aurora displays occur. The footprint moves during the yearly seasons but Yellowknife remains firmly inside. This means it does have the highest probability of seeing a display so probably deserves the title. It’s a mining town so good hotels are widely available. However, experienced aurora fans will tell you it’s probably best to head out of town for the best viewing conditions and the area is covered with all sorts of places to stay. Dedicated resorts offering night time tours and a variety of day time activities such as dog sledding, snow mobiling and snow shoe trekking can be easily found. You will also have a wide choice of places to stay all offering a great level of creature comfort as well as the best chance of seeing the world’s best free light show.
WhiteHorse between December and March offers a great opportunity to see the Northern Lights in style
Yukon in Western Canada, in particular Whitehorse, on the American border with Alaska provides another popular destination with aurora seekers. With the most aurora friendly weather between December and March this is your best time to head out west Four or five day stops in boutique hotels and lodges are widely available and will make any trip to the Yukon worthwhile. Just be aware there are places offering Northern Lights tours between April and September. Great as you get the benefit of warmer weather but before you book just ask them what chance there is of seeing the lights and how good the show actually is.
You could even check out the Frostbite Music Festival – it does what is says on the tin. A three day music festival featuring local talent performing music of all genre (not sure if there’s karaoke or disco though). Mix this with evenings spent looking for The Lights and you’ve something really special.
Another take on lights tourism can be found moving towards Lake Superior. With its vast wilderness and lack of light pollution it is possible to see the lights outside of the more usual times. Slightly warmer conditions do mean more risk of cloud so if you’re travelling long distances you’ll probably want to go organise a trip between December and March.
Lake Superior’s vast wilderness offers a view of the Northern Lights even when others fail. All due to the low levels of light pollution.
With current aurora activity set to peak in 2013 and wherever you view The Lights in Canada one thing is certain. With all that space, so few people and such perfect aurora spotting conditions and trip planned is going to big up your chances of a fantastic show.