To see the Northern Lights, you might think sub-arctic temperatures are all part of the experience but depending on how far north you venture it is possible to view the phenomena known as the aurora borealis in the warmer months.
Beginning in August and stretching all the way round until April, the lights can be seen clearly at Aurora Village, Yellowknife, in the North west territories of Canada.
So, if the winter chill is putting you off from making the trip, head there early in the season when the average temperatures hover between 55-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Are The Northern Lights?
Put very simply, the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis or the dancing spirits of the ancestors, as many indigenous traditions interpret them, are the result of a clash between Earth’s gas particles and charged particles from the sun.
The northern lights can appear like a cloudy wash across the sky or as bright and vivid green lines. They can flicker or seem to dance right in front of your eyes. They can last for hours or be gone in an instant.
They really are enigmatic and watching them can be an emotional event.
What Conditions Do You Need To See Them?
The right ingredients for aurora viewing include aurora activity (which you can’t control) clear skies (which you can’t control) and dark skies, which you can control by choosing to head far north where the sky gets very dark and light pollution from the city is at a minimum.
You do need a fair amount of patience to catch the lights and at many venues across the world guests leave without ever having seen them. However, at Aurora Village the chances are incredibly high. In fact, they suggest that if you stay for 3 nights of viewing you have a 95% chance of seeing them at least once.
Get Comfy And Stay Awhile
When they do come out you won’t want to leave. Get comfortable and reserve one of Aurora Village’s unique heated sleigh seats which swivel 360 degrees to give you unparalleled views of the night sky while you stay toasty and warm under a blanket.
If the lights are shy you can warm up inside your very own teepee with hot drinks and a fire. The staff let everyone know when the lights are dancing so you won’t miss a thing.
Make a night of it and enjoy a meal inside their dining room and bar with bison stew and of course traditional bannock bread on offer.
Where To Stay
Packages at Aurora Village include nightly viewing and bus transportation from downtown hotels to the village, which is just 10 miles from the small city of Yellowknife.
You can also choose to add on daily activities in winter like snowshoeing or dog sled rides and hire out equipment and warm weather clothing.
Many Aurora Village guests stay at the Explorer Hotel which has comfortable rooms and a lively restaurant and bar.
Should You Visit In Summer Or Winter?
In terms of Aurora viewing, summer runs August through October, while the winter is November to April.
You are almost guaranteed to see the lights in cold northern skies during the winter, but Yellowknife can get frigid with temperatures plummeting to between 0 degrees Fahrenheit and -14 degrees during the month of January.
The Aurora Village with its warm teepees, indoor bathrooms, dining room and bar and of course those heated swivel seats help to make you as comfortable as can be in the cold. They even provide an option to rent warm clothing and boots suitable for the Northern Canadian weather.
If you prefer warmer temperatures and you can be patient to wait for those lights to come out a trip in August or September might suit you better.
Be advised though that the Aurora Village is closed from mid April to mid August, and the months of June and July in particular are not suitable for spotting Aurora at all due to the midnight sun.
Whenever you decide to make the trip you’re certain to always remember your night underneath those beautiful dancing northern lights.