Over the centuries, the aurora borealis (or, northern lights) have been interpreted as everything from the ghosts of virgins to walrus spirits to the dancing spirits of the dead.
The scientific explanation for the northern lights is somewhat less romantic: the stunning, multi-colored lights are electrically charged particles that have been blown from the sun and get pulled towards the magnetic north pole.
Though modern science means the veil of mystery has been lifted, the northern lights still continue to fascinate.
The mystery now lies in deciding where they can best be seen. Below is a guide on some of the top spots for gazing.
The Best View of The Northern Lights Fairbanks, Alaska
For those coming from Canada or the United States, Fairbanks in Alaska, is a great destination for laying eyes on the northern lights.
The advantage of Fairbanks is that once you’ve arrived in the city, you don’t have a long and complicated trek ahead of you to find a spot where the lights are visible.
They can, in fact, be seen from the city, but most choose to take a trip away from the distraction of the city lights.
There is a beautiful viewing area in the hills of Fairbanks just 32km away from the city.
One of the reasons Fairbanks is so popular is because of its proximity to the highly active area over the Arctic.
The aurora borealis is often brightest and most frequent at Fairbanks and the long nights there mean there’s plenty of time to take in the show.
The Icehotel, Sweden
The Icehotel in Swedish Lapland has gained international fame, and you can see why:
Built entirely from ice and snow, this frosty marvel is completely deconstructed and reconstructed every year as the seasons change.
Located in Jukkasjarvi, visitors from the UK can take a direct flight to nearby Kiruna.
The Icehotel is located in the part of Sweden that, during January, has the highest number of clear days, making it well placed for viewing the northern lights.
The hotel now offers guided northern lights tours for its guests. Leaving the hotel every night at 11, the guides take guests to the most active spot for the lights on any given evening.
Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland
Hotel Kakslauttanen can be found in Kakslauttanen, Finland and is just 80km from the Russian border.
Accommodation options at the hotel include log cabins with their own saunas and snow igloos.
Most notable for those chasing the northern lights, however, is the hotel’s glass igloos.
These heated glass igloos give guests the opportunity to lie back in their polar sleeping bag and gaze at the northern lights from the comfort of their own bed.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is the perfect choice for those wishing to warm up their northern lights experience.
The lake is a light, opaque blue and its mineral waters provide an idyllic spot from which to lie back and observe the spectacle of the aurora borealis.
The Blue Lagoon is not the most common place for the Northern Lights to occur.
Those who luck out at the Lagoon can easily take short night-trips to several nearby destinations where the lights are more frequently seen.
Many package tours involving northern lights sightings are available and gift experiences are very popular.
For those trying to find a gift for someone adventurous who’s into everything from zorbing to ice-skating, giving the gifting of a trip to the northern lights is sure to be a present that won’t disappoint!