Experiencing The Northern Lights and visiting the Ice Hotel I would imagine is near the top of everyone’s bucket list and there are secrets that I must share with you to increase your chances of catching a glimpse of the shimmering Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are described as the Greatest Light Show on Earth.
Where to see The Northern Lights
For starters, I have found you the best place to see The Northern Lights, in the tiny little town of ‘Jukkasjärvi’ which is in the northern province of Swedish Lapland only 15km from the iron mining town of Kiruna. The reason that I have chosen this remote tiny little town is because it is home to where the world’s first ‘Ice Hotel’ www.icehotel.com was founded in 1990. The story goes that in 1989 a French artist called ‘Jannot Derid’ held an art exhibition in his cylinder shaped igloo, in Jukkasjärvi. One night all the hotels in the nearby Kiruna were full and some of the tourists asked Jannot if they could bed down at his. He agreed and his guests slept snuggly in their thermal sleeping bags, protected from the iced floor by reindeer skins. From this moment the idea of an Ice Hotel was born.
When is the Best Time of Year to go and See The Northern Lights
The best time to see The Northern Lights is between October and March. You must have a clear dark night with little moonlight. You must be well away from city lights; as they would dilute the effects of the Northern Lights.
How can I get to The Northern Lights?
Norwegian Air www.norwegian.com run a flight direct from Gatwick Airport to Kiruna www.kirunalapland.se/en with a short stop in Stockholm www.visitstockholm.com Try to go for 5 or more nights to further increase your chances of being rewarded with a beautiful display of Northern Lights.
The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi – Sweden
The Ice Hotel is an exhibition in itself and is built from scratch every year. Ice hotels are dependent upon sub-freezing temperatures. The hotel season runs from December to the end of March by which time temperatures are rising and The Ice Hotel returns to Mother Nature. Each year the build in Jukkasjärvi usually starts mid to late October while the chill of the winter is setting in and the nearby ‘Torne River’ starts to freeze over. Ice Sculpture Artists come from various parts of the globe with their genius ideas for the build and a jury carefully selects about 50 designers before the architecture of the hotel begins. They create the church, ice bar, restaurant, reception, main hall, the suites, saunas and hot tubs. By November approximately 30,000,000 Litres of snice and a 1,000 tonnes of ice will have been provided by the nearby Torne River. Work commences to create the 5,500 square meter Ice Hotel. During a typical season The Ice Hotel will cater for 50,000 to 60,000 people including day visitors and overnight guests. There are usually around 65 bedrooms of various quality and price. Items of furniture like ice-chairs, ice-tables even ice-beds are all lovingly hand sculptured. The ice-glasses to drink from, chandeliers and ice-sculptured reception desk are all a treat to the eyes.
The nearby town of Kiruna
Now, clearly not everyone would choose to sleep at an Ice Hotel while enjoying the delights of The Northern Lights and would prefer more creature comforts that come with the warmth of an open fire and hot chocolate in hand. Kiruna is only 15km away and has a population of 20,000 occupants with a large selection of warm hotels, self-catering options and restaurants catering for everyone’s needs and budgets. Look out for the local ‘Sami’ restaurants with the words “Dagens rätt” which means Meal of the Day. The local tour guides will be happy to take you Dog Sledging to see The Northern Lights through the stunning landscape, around the beautiful pine tree forest, over the frozen Torne River while keeping an eye open for a wild moose or reindeer along the way. You may choose to travel by bus further into the Artic Circle to see The Northern Lights and visit the splendid ‘Abisko Sky Station’ www.auroraskystation.com/en
Whatever way you choose to spend your time I am confident that it will be a memory that will last forever. Remember to book your Park, Sleep & Fly at Gatwick Airport www.cumberlandhousegatwick.com