13 Best Places to See the Midnight Sun in 2020
Experiencing the Midnight Sun is a real Bucket List must for those who want to witness a natural occurrence like no other. Of course, as it such a rare phenomenon, travellers must visit the ends of the Earth (almost!) in order to encounter this amazing natural wonder. Read on to find out all you need to know about the midnight sun and to discover the best places to see this incredible light show.
What Is The Midnight Sun?
The natural phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun is a period during the northern hemisphere summer when, due to the Earth’s axis, the sun never sets on the horizon in certain locations across the Arctic Circle. This means that a handful of destinations in the northernmost part of the world receive sunlight 24 hours a day.
While this phenomenon can be quite disconcerting the first time you experience it, it is also truly magical and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Where Can I See The Midnight Sun?
The Svalbard Archipelago is a collection of islands in the Arctic circle owned by Norway, that spends half of the year in darkness and the other half in light. This is an incredible place to experience the midnight sun as you are able to combine this wonderful natural phenomenon with breath-taking landscapes, absolute serenity, and, of course, rare wildlife such as the mighty polar bear.
The only way to truly explore the archipelago is by boat, which allows you to meander your way through ice floes and islands in search of animals and experiences. The beauty of discovering Svalbard during the summer months is that you have endless hours in which to take in the magic. Wildlife, by its very nature, is unpredictable, but thanks to the midnight sun you have all hours of the day to witness polar bears, walrus, seals, birds and Arctic foxes to your heart’s content!
Lofoten Islands, Norway
The picturesque Lofoten Islands are another one of Norway’s hidden gems that receive the midnight sun for around 40-50 days a year. This period during the height of summer is not only a warmer time to travel to these stunning islands but also allows you more hours to explore and adventure. The Lofoten Islands are known for their spectacular landscapes which can be discovered on foot, by boat or even by kayak.
While the sun never fully sets during this time, it does move up and down somewhat in the sky, which creates gorgeous golden hours which are perfect for photography! The midnight sun usually lasts from June 1st to July 10th with the longest day falling on June 21st, the summer equinox.
If you’re seeking a destination on mainland Norway, look no further than Hammerfest, the country’s most northerly mainland town. Surprisingly, the town doesn’t host a large summer equinox festival but remains a pristine and peaceful place to connect with nature and to experience the midnight sun.
The town is located around an incredible ice-free harbour and visitors can take cruises around the area to soak up the sights of the Arctic circle. While Hammerfest does receive a fair number of human visitors during the summer months, it also sees an influx of Arctic reindeer who migrate here to munch on the verdant vegetation that they’ve missed over winter!
The summer of sun in Greenland is both short and sweet with the long days allowing for endless exploration of the glacial landscapes and flowing waterfalls. As the period of light is so brief, Spring, Summer and Autumn are all packed into just a few months with intense flourishing of life and colour. This makes for an impressive backdrop for photography as well as a hive of activity for wildlife that thrives on the new growth. Cruises around Greenland are popular at this time of year, as visitors long to witness calving glaciers, breaching whales, roaming reindeer and immense icebergs protruding out of the water.
Swedish Lapland and the town of Kiruna lie in the Arctic Circle which means they receive the midnight sun from the end of May until the middle of July. The Swedes certainly know how to celebrate this natural phenomenon with 18-hole golf courses staying open for 24 hours, hiking activities taking place throughout the day and ‘night’ and the almighty Kiruna Festival, a wild weekend of music and entertainment held at the end of June. While the country’s capital is too far south to receive the midnight sun, it does boast seriously long days from May to July, so Stockholm can be a perfect add on to a trip to the Arctic Circle in summer.
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Abisko is a town centred around the sky, with the Aurora Sky Station being a popular destination for the Northern Lights in winter and the Midnight Sun in summer. Visitors can hike up Mount Nuolja to witness impressive 360 views over Abisko National Park or take the more relaxing journey to the top by hopping on the cable car to the Aurora Sky Station. From here, you can soak up the lush mountain scenery or enjoy a three-course midnight sun dinner allowing you to see the subtle changes in the light as the sun moves around the sky.
Reykjavik in Iceland is an incredible destination year-round thanks to its awesome landscapes which can be explored come rain or shine. However, the fact that it also receives the midnight sun (as well as the Aurora Borealis in winter!) means that is an even more desirable destination. Add to this a lively Summer Solstice Festival held each year on the 21st June and you can see why it has become such a popular location for celebrating the sun! Iceland arguably looks even more picturesque during the summer months, and an Arctic Circle cruise to the island of Grimsey would be the icing on the cake.
The town of Inuvik is located in Canada’s Northwest Territories and receives 24-hour daylight for 56 days each year. The colourful town celebrates the midnight sun and the summer solstice with a range of races including a fun run, 5K, 10K and a half marathon. Situated on the Mackenzie River and Delta, you can encounter Arctic wildlife and remote wildernesses, allowing you to feel like you’re in another world! Inuvik is also home a church the shape of an igloo as well as North America’s most northerly mosque.
Fairbanks is the United States’ northernmost city and is the jumping-off point for some really wild adventures. Both locals and tourists alike love to get out in nature to enjoy the brief spell of the midnight sun, which falls in June and July each year. Whether you’re there for the famous Midnight Sun Festival at the end of June or simply want to experience some of the parties and parades that take place throughout the season, you’re sure to have a trip to remember! It being America, Fairbanks hosts a Midnight Sun baseball game and the local Golf Course and Country Club even allow guests to play a round throughout the night. For a really magical experience, head down to Eagle Summit (technically below the Arctic Circle) where the elevation allows you to experience the midnight sun in all its glory.
Despite being one of the lesser-known towns in the Arctic Circle, Murmansk is actually the most populous, with over 300,000 residents. The port city is filled with quaint buildings such as the St. Michael the Archangel’s Church and the Church of the Saviour on the Water, as well as a number of tourist attractions including the Murmansk Oblast Museum and Gallery, the Lenin museum ship and even an aquarium. Murmansk is also the departure destination for Arctic adventures in the Barents Sea, another spectacular location for polar bears!
Faroe Islands, Denmark
Between early June and mid-July, the Faroe Islands receive dream-like light, with the sun never falling below the horizon and the darkest moments being a soft dusky hue. Visitors can discover all of the 18 small islands that make up this Danish nation, each with their own rugged landscapes, secret waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes and close communities that hold their Faroese traditions dear. Explore the islands on foot or take a boat ride from the island’s capital, Tórshavn, to witness the stunning landscapes from afar. The small island of Nólsoy features a lighthouse at its most southern point which is a spectacular place to enjoy the light of the midnight sun.
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Whitehorse in the Yukon in Canada is the jumping-off point for trips up the Klondike Highway, the famous route taken by prospectors during the Gold Rush of the late 1800s. The summer months are the best time to explore this region as you have endless days in which to drive the 445-mile highway, stopping off along the way to admire both the landscapes and the light. Full days of midnight sun here actually only last for around 12 days (15th June to 27th June), but you can expect extremely long summer days from May to July. Another fantastic region to explore during the months of the midnight sun is the Kluane National Park, a breath-taking glacial park that sprawls for millions of hectares (9,839,121 ha to be precise!). The long days of summer allow you to hike and fly around this impressive landscape, keeping your eyes peeled for grizzly bears and Dall’s sheep along the way.
After the harsh darkness of winter, Finnish Lapland really springs to life during the short summer months as locals come out to celebrate the magic of the midnight sun. This period is all about getting out in nature, taking midnight dips in fresh lakes under the orange skies and spending time with your family in a cottage out in the sticks. Finnish Lapland receives 24-hours of daylight from May until August, so there really is no excuse not to get out there and do all the things you’ve been putting off throughout winter. Celebrations run throughout the summer, with June being the most predominant month with the likes of The Midnight Sun Film Festival and Jutajaiset, a traditional folklore festival.
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Midnight Sun FAQs
Why Does The Midnight Sun Happen?
The Midnight Sun occurs when the Earth’s axis tilts the northern hemisphere towards the sun on the globe’s annual journey around the sun. This tilting results in much longer days for everyone in the northern hemisphere during summer, but for those located above the Arctic Circle, it means periods of time where the sun never sets below the horizon.
Where Receives The Midnight Sun For The Longest?
If a bustling scene is more your thing, O’ahu or Maui’s main towns might be a better fit. With lively nightlife, a great choice of water sports, decent shopping and a range of spectacular hotels, these popular islands have everything you need for a fun first-time visit to Hawaii. These islands are also great for families as you can enjoy all of Hawaii’s highlights without having to travel between the islands.
What Is The Weather Like In Midnight Sun Destinations In Summer?
The weather really depends on your destination and how far north you are located. Of course, the further north you are (the higher the angle of latitude), the colder it will be. However, this is these destinations warmest time of year. Destinations at lower levels of latitude such as Fairbanks in Alaska and Tromsø will receive temperatures between 5°C-20°C (averaging around 10-15) whereas locations like Svalbard are more likely to average between –2°C and 2°C throughout the month of June.
Do I Need To Book A Tour To Enjoy The Midnight Sun?
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon which can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone for free! Of course, if you want to pack the most into your days, then you can book an organised tour, but unlike seeing the Northern Lights where you need to be in the right place at the right time, the midnight sun can be experienced just by being located on or above the Arctic Circle.
Now you have a whole host of options for where to see and experience the midnight sun it’s time to choose which destination takes your fancy! Wherever you choose, just don’t forget to pack an eye mask or book somewhere with black-out blinds, as you will need at least a bit of sleep in order to enjoy all that these destinations have to offer!
Let us know where you want to go to experience the midnight sun in the comments below.
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