Chances of seeing the Northern Lights

When can I see the Northern Lights?
3 min
December 2, 2023

Weather is the single biggest factor as the Northern Lights are generally only seen in Winter in the extreme climate areas of the Arctic region. As such it is worth researching areas that have generally more stable weather patterns. From experience coastal regions can be affected more frequently by storm fronts so this can affect some places more than others.

Topology – It would appear that the environment you are in plays a big part in your chances of seeing them. Some examples of this would be Abisko in Sweden where the mountain range funnels weather fronts away and results in a lower cloud/ lower precipitation climate and therefore more sightings than on average. Monitoring over many years the average chance of seeing the Northern Lights over a 4 night trip to Abisko is around 83%. Other places that stand out are the frozen Lulea Archipelago where the large expanse of frozen seas results in a much more stable cloud pattern. Along the same lines in and around some of the glacier areas in Iceland such as the area near Hotel Ranga where pockets of clear skies can appear overhead even when weather along the coast can be more variable, or in North Iceland in the Myvatn area. You need clear skies to see the Northern Lights.

Homogeneous Arc

Probably the most common Northern Lights sighting and visible at a low KP index. This tends to light up the sky, appear quite static and do not take much form. Colours can range from a milky white through to mid shades of green.


This is generally the most spectacular Northern Lights displays as the sky can be perceived to be exploding from a central core. These can be single or multi coloured and are the rarest type of aurora showing.

Rising Vapour Column

This is a very pronounced aurora that seems to rise like a column of smoke and seems to have a touch point on earth. This is but an optical illusion as this dancing show is taking place between 100 -300 kilometres above the earth’s surface.

Rayed Arc

As you move up the aurora KP scale you are more likely to see a rayed arc. This aurora takes the form of long vertical stripes which move and create an auroral curtain.

So now you need to decide where to go ! Be inspired by our Northern Lights Holidays in Sweden and Iceland.

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