Dark Season of Lights

The northern lights can be seen from autumn until spring, but the longer the night the better the chances, and the nights are long in winter Iceland.
December 10, 2018
Kári Gunnlaugsson

The amazing northern lights can be seen in Iceland from autumn until spring, but the longer the night the better the chances, and the nights are long in mid-winter Iceland. This amazing natural phenomenon has bewildered and dazzled travelers of the northern regions since the dawn of mankind. It is notoriously hard to predict but the fact remains that on any given winter night in Iceland there is a chance to experience their magic. Having said that, they are of course never the same on any two nights, low on the horizon or high in the sky, a static line, or crazy fireworks spread all over the great starry dome. Also, whether they hit at 11pm or 4am is often hard to tell, and whether they last a few minutes or a few hours is impossible to know. This is why the local legion of experienced northern lights guides is so important. They know how to read the forecasts and they know the weather conditions, where there might be a rift in the clouds, when to wait patiently for the great prize to appear and when perhaps simply to go hit the hotel bar.

Northern Lights over Reykjavik
The northern lights above Hallgrimskirkja church

 The aurora belt is at a height of around 100 km and despite being extremely unstable in its position is most often situated somewhere above Iceland. On a good night the lights can be seen literally anywhere in the country from downtown Reykjavik to the edge of Langanes. The tours are about creating the best possible conditions and given the unstable and ever changing weather in Iceland, you really want to be mobile and traveling with somebody who knows their way around.

Luckily the vicinity of Reykjavik and the southern part of Iceland offers various good locations which are also relatively safe despite people being out in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of the arctic winter. Northern lights guides will not only know and relate information about the aurora, but also know and understand weather conditions in any given location which can make all the difference when hunting for this elusive phenomenon.

People enjoying the northern lights
People enjoying the northern lights

If the purpose of your journey to Iceland is to witness the lights then remember that any night there can be the lucky night. Do not plan a special night beforehand, because it is practically impossible, but rather seize the right night or nights while you are there, and remember that most companies doing the tours will not decide whether or not to go out until the on the afternoon of the same day. Also, doing a few days tour exploring the wonders of this island made of fire and ice during the day, and keeping your eyes on the sky at night, might just be exactly the kind of adventure you need during this dark season of lights.

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