Chasing Northern Lights

This post is sponsored by Hotel Fjället, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Let’s be honest, the goal of my trip was to see the Northern Lights. Seems like everybody has been to Iceland for the lights or has seen the Aurora Borealis somewhere…everyone but me. Those eye-catching and breathtaking images are all over Instagram too. Can’t get away from it. Can’t avoid it. So, I wanted to be in the bandwagon of course. Come on, it’s the Northern Lights!

Originally, Iceland was the first choice but as the holiday season was fast approaching, it was becoming more and more expensive to go there and to only have a 50/50 chance of seeing the lights. And so I did my research and found two areas in the Arctic Circle that have a higher chance of seeing the elusive lights: Tromso, Norway and the Swedish Lapland.

Since I haven’t been to Sweden and the Arctic Circle yet, I decided to hit two birds with one stone.

Where To Go

Swedish Lapland is the land of eight seasons, the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun. There are three cities in North Sweden where you can see the lights: Kiruna, Abisko and Björkliden. Any of these places would pretty much guarantee you a Northern Light sighting, if weather permits. I must warn that getting to these cities was not an easy feat. You can either fly to Kiruna, as it has the closest airport or take the train from Stockholm, which I did. Oh, it only took me about 17 hours. Facepalm. If I ever go back to the area, I will definitely choose to fly to Kiruna even though the fares are ridiculously expensive. Transportation is a little challenging with limited train schedules and no Uber, but it is still manageable. And quite honestly, I think Abisko and Björkliden are the best places to see the northern lights.

Where I Stayed

As I would be spending two nights in the Arctic Circle, below zero degrees, while chasing the northern lights, hotel accommodation would be crucial to this adventure. I partnered with  Lapland Resort’s impressive Hotel Fjället in Björkliden, and it was the best decision I made. The hotel was perched on a hill away from bright city lights, the perfect location to view such fickle lights.

As soon as I got to my hotel, I immediately checked the northern lights tracker that my friend Kara, who was my official photographer for this trip, downloaded during our long train ride from Stockholm. According to it, it was going to be a clear night with a 70% chance of seeing the lights at 9:00pm and there will be high activity where we were  by midnight. I mean, how accurate can this app be?!

Pretty accurate, apparently.

Meeting Aurora

So there we were having a fine prefix two-course meal at the hotel’s Restaurant Lapporten, and as soon as we finished, one of the staff asked if we have seen the lights yet as they were visible right outside at the moment. With our cameras on hand, we made a dash for it.

At first there was a faint green beam across the dark sky and  I thought to myself, “This is how it’s gonna be. We will literally be going to chase these lights for two nights?!” We also did not book a northern lights excursion, so all our hopes and dreams are dependent on this chase. I had to admit though, the thought of the chase was exciting enough since I haven’t gone on a real adventure for awhile!

But even though my first glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis was a faint streak of light, I was still ecstatic as ever that our chase did not go in vain. Little did I know, Aurora had BIG plans for us.

Dancing Queen

As the night grew deeper, the forces of nature also grew kinder to us. Not only did we see the lights three more times on  the first night, but we saw the lights on the second night as well. For the WHOLE night, it filled up the WHOLE sky…..DANCING ABOVE US, just steps outside our hotel. I still couldn’t believe our luck. There was even a point where we stopped taking photos and just enjoyed the incredible phenomenon above us. It was too good to be true!

We may be one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to pay for an excursion or hike to a remote frozen area to see the lights. We didn’t even have to chase them, they literally showed up on our front step. I know our story may sound unbelievable to others. I’ve had a few people ask me how literal my statement was. Trust me, I meant it literally.

This was definitely one of my favorite trips and an epic one to boot.

It was the best way to end the year indeed.

 

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Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.