5 adventure ways to see the northern lights in Canada this winter

Aurora Village, Yellowknife
You’ve made it to Canada to go skiing and snowboarding, go one step north and you could combine the ultimate snow holiday with a bucket list northern lights sighting. 
 
The natural phenomenon known as the greatest light show on earth takes centre stage in Canada’s northern destinations from October to March. So expect a spell binding natural light display against a perfect winter dark canvas sky.
 

There’s more than one way to take it all in, too. From outdoor adventures to fireside lodges, an observatory or even from a plane in the sky.

Fat biking under the aurora sky

northern lights Canada
The Aurora Borealis at Yellowknife in Canada

Combine two of the most exhilarating experiences imaginable: pedal through snow and ice on bikes designed for the conditions. As you careen through the Narnia-like forest, pause for a break, and turn your eyes skyward to take in the splendour of the northern lights dancing and shimmering overhead.

Catch this latest winter craze in two of Canada’s best aurora viewing points, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. Boreale Lodge in the Yukon and Borealis Bike Tours in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories offer unforgettable fat biking experiences.

Private charter flight

Aurora 360
Aurora 360

The only experience of its kind in North America, winter visitors to Yukon Territory may now view the northern lights from 36,000 feet in the air, taking off from Whitehorse with Aurora 360 from 23 – 27 January 2020.

Once airborne, the pilot will follow a custom flight path, determined by a team of scientists to optimise aurora viewing potential. The full Aurora 360 package includes outstanding cuisine, an evening of Yukon First Nations stories and dance, scientific presentations and a special ‘nature day’ showcasing Yukon’s unique land, water and sky. With only 70 seats available, Aurora 360 comes with serious bragging rights.

The traditional way

Many cultural groups hold their own spiritual beliefs about the aurora borealis, involving everything from dragons to dancing souls. Some Inuit believe that the lights are the souls of the departed on their way to the afterlife, while others believe they are the souls of unborn children.

Immerse yourself in Indigenous culture as you witness the rippling, whirling spectacle at the Aurora Village in the Northwest Territories. You’ll gain a deep understanding of Indigenous heritage as you feast on home-made soup, bannock, and delicious desserts, before relaxing in a traditional tee-pee to await the magical light show. 

Off the grid

Get off the grid in one of Yukon’s remote wilderness lodges, where you can combine crystal-clear aurora viewing with a spot of ice-fishing or snowmobiling. Want more? Step back in time in a prospector-style wall tent, formerly used by gold seekers and trappers, just 20 minutes outside the capital city of Whitehorse.

Marvel at the ribbons of colour blazing overhead in the night sky, then warm up inside over a wood-fired barrel stove, a mug of hot chocolate, and home-made maple syrup taffy. 

From an aurora dome

Nature’s most spectacular phenomenon can be viewed 300 days per year in Churchill, due to its position directly under the aurora oval in Canada’s central province of Manitoba. At the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC), take advantage of the 360-degree glass aurora dome and observation deck that offer ideal vantage points to marvel at the glowing streams of light as they cascade across the pitch-black sky like shimmering Christmas garlands.

By day, participate in the Winter Skies: Aurora & Astronomy in Churchill program and learn all about this atmospheric wonder during expert-led presentations at this active research facility.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.