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Holidays

Northern lights (with a 11yo)

36 replies

kookievee · 29/12/2021 22:18

I have a big birthday coming up in 2 years and I'd love to go on a trip to see the Northern lights.

It would be me, DH and our DS who will be 11.

Where is best to go that won't break the bank? I could leave DS with his aunty but I'd rather take him.

I'm looking at this as a world without Covid as I hope things will have calmed down by then.

Thanks.

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PavoReal · 30/12/2021 10:34

I can’t help with the “won’t break the bank bit” but would recommend downloading an Aurora app now which will tell you locations of where northern lights are forecast. When considering a location you can pretend you are there now to see if you’d actually get to see them or not at the time you’d go.

We were in northern Finland (Saariselka) early Dec which is within the Arctic circle for 4 nights and only one of those did the lights appear briefly at 3am, and those who saw them were only those who did the overnight trip. Everyone else slept through them. They weren’t that spectacular that night either by accounts. We didn’t go specifically for the lights so not such a big deal for us to miss them.

I guess it’s like whale watching trips. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. I’d think about other elements of your holiday and consider getting to see the lights a bonus. It’s a beautiful part of the world, a good choice for a special trip!

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countrygirl99 · 30/12/2021 10:41

Pick.your timeout year carefully for when there is less likelihood of cloud cover.

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Swisscheeseleaves · 30/12/2021 10:46

I have been to Iceland twice and have yet to see them! Best time to go is midwinter say February time. As pp said there's sites etc you can use to help you figure out when to go. Iceland is expensive, it may break the bank but it's utterly amazing. But .. As i said i haven't seen the northern lights yet so i need to go back again Grin

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HamCob · 30/12/2021 14:06

I have a friend who is Norwegian and she has only seen them a handful of times in her life despite living near the Arctic circle. Maybe plan a holiday based around other activities such as a Lapland trip and if you see the lights it's a bonus.

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CaptainMyCaptain · 30/12/2021 14:09

I went to Iceland in February and didn't see them, when we came back we heard they'd been seen from Barnsley. Wherever you go prepare your child to be disappointed. I hope you do see them.

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PuffinShop · 30/12/2021 14:12

It is a silly idea to go on a trip specifically to see the northern lights, if you will be extremely disappointed not to see them. It is like travelling hundreds of miles to see a rainbow. There are just no guarantees that you will get a clear night when the lights are active, no matter where you go.

Pick somewhere you want to see anyway that has other attractions that appeal to you and then go hoping to see the lights as a bonus. I live in Iceland and have seen the northern lights more times than I can count but I could never plan in advance and pick a week or even a night when I would be certain to see them.

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Karatema · 30/12/2021 14:36

I've been 3 times and have never seen them as well as my DDIL did with my DGS in Scotland! She sent me photos and I was very jealous!

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Swisscheeseleaves · 30/12/2021 16:25

Pick somewhere you want to see anyway that has other attractions that appeal to you and then go hoping to see the lights as a bonus. I live in Iceland and have seen the northern lights more times than I can count but I could never plan in advance and pick a week or even a night when I would be certain to see them.

You lucky thing! Iceland is so beautiful. Probably a bit of a pain to live there sometimes though Grin

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MissAmbrosia · 30/12/2021 19:52

global.hurtigruten.com/destinations/norway-expedition/?_hrgb=3 You might have to search about amongst their offerings but I think if you did one of their "post boat" cruises they offer a free one if you don't see the lights. I am currently investigating Norway....

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kookievee · 31/12/2021 21:14

Some good suggestions thanks!
Also good advice. I did know I wasn't guaranteed to see them but I'd not considered that in planning destination to be somewhere I'd like to go anyway.

Some research is needed!

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CombatBarbie · 31/12/2021 21:15

North Scotland gets some spectacular views.... I get some fab ones down in Ayrshire too.

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cptartapp · 31/12/2021 21:22

We went to Iceland in January, they hadn't been seen for weeks apparently.
Still a great trip though.

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Nanasueathome · 31/12/2021 21:25

My son went to Iceland early December, this year
Trip planned fir northern lights was postponed on first night and rescheduled for 2 nights later
He went on the trip but it was too cloudy to see anything
I think it’s really hit and miss

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LadyLazarus40 · 31/12/2021 21:28

We went to Iceland in a Feb half term when my children were in years 6 & 8. We stayed in the middle of nowhere on the start of golden circle route (nearest town Selfoss). Hired a car and did loads.

Didn’t see Northern Lights but both children (now 16 & 18) still rank it as one of their best holidays and somewhere they would love to go back to.

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LampHat · 31/12/2021 21:29

We spent 8 expensive days in northern Sweden once, doing arctic things like the ice hotel, huskies etc but no sign of the lights (even at the Sky Station). We then went to Tromso in Norway one October and saw them 4 nights in a row. Wasn’t too expensive at that time of year either! We went out on a tour chasing them one night and got an incredible display, and every other night saw them from our hotel room overlooking the harbour. It’s just luck I think, so def best to plan other things. In November I think there are whale watching tours from there which would be amazing! Smile

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LyndaLaHughes · 31/12/2021 21:30

You can see them in Lapland so could combine a pre-Christmas trip with it. Lapland is a once in a lifetime amazing trip!

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sonjadog · 31/12/2021 21:32

You could try Tromsø. There are bus trips at night that drive around looking for the lights. They have radio contact with people all over the area so know where they are when they are. They can drive several hours away from Tromsø, I believe. Also from Tromsø there are other activities available such as visiting a Sámi camp and feeding reindeer. You can fly on regular flights to Tromsø and book accomodation in whatever price range you choose, so you may be able to do it cheaper than a package tour.

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JamMakingWannaBe · 31/12/2021 21:42

I've seen them more times living in South East Scotland than I ever did when I lived in Aberdeenshire. It's just luck - and the aurora app.

It's not been the whole night swirling in coloured lights but it's been the aurora all the same.

I'd book a holiday cottage on the Moray coast. Much cheaper than a trip to the Arctic circle.

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JamMakingWannaBe · 31/12/2021 21:43

Post on the Scotsnet threads. Folk there might give you some more pointers.

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MrsFezziwig · 31/12/2021 21:55

I’d definitely plan a holiday with other activities (although I appreciate it’s your treat not DS’s!). If the lights turn out to be underwhelming or non-existent it won’t be much fun for him otherwise.

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RampantIvy · 01/01/2022 22:56

We went to Northern Finland 7 years ago during February half term. We went with Transun and did loads of snowy activities, and were lucky enough to see the aurora one night. The advantage of going in February was that we had 8 hours of daylight and could actually see the place properly.

Apparently the best time to go is when there is no moon.

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TizerorFizz · 02/01/2022 18:00

@kookievee
I would certainly recommend you plan the holiday around other activities snd sights. We saw the northern lights. From an aircraft flying out of Sweden in October a few years ago.

We went to Iceland in September, which is a bit too early for northern lights. It was cloudy a lot of the time at night and during the day the weather was very mixed. Lovely sunshine to gale force winds and sleet!

I would caution against expecting to see whales in the far northern hemisphere in anything other than the summer months. We knew there wouldn’t be any to see in Iceland in September. They migrate south in July/August. They’ve gone. So work out what you want to see and plan the trip accordingly. Is it Northern Scandinavia, Arctic circle, Iceland? Do you want to see Whales, walrus, sea birds, reindeer, sledges, snow hotel, culture, geographical wonders, food, etc. Once you know what you really want, you can research where to go, and when, that has most of what would be special for you.

We had an amazing day in Iceland on a superjeep. Utterly brilliant! So was our trip on an expedition ship to the arctic circle. Both very different but both utterly memorable.

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Nanasueathome · 03/01/2022 09:33

My son went in a whale trip in Iceland, early December, saw 2 whales

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TizerorFizz · 03/01/2022 10:18

Orcas can be seen. Most of the trips won’t see whales. Where we have seen whales you would expect more than 2. Look at the whale logs and you will see they migrate.

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TizerorFizz · 03/01/2022 10:20

Plus I wouldn’t subject an 11 year old to a freezing cold boat trip in Iceland in the winter. It’s a fun summer trip.

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