There is no way of telling which year, month, week, or day the best is to see the Northern Lights as there is so many factors that must be considered and no one knows what kind of weather we will have or what the strength of the Northern Light will be. If you search online, it will say that the strongest Northern Light activity is in the start and at the end of the Northern Light season (Sep Oct/Mar-Apr), but even if this is correct, this doesn’t mean you can’t see strong Northern Light in the other months.
First off, the most important factor is the weather. It can be strong Northern Light, it can be as strong as it wants, but that doesn’t help if the sky is full of clouds. On the Northern light tours, the most important is to find clear sky, it can be a small gap between the clouds, or it can be clear sky, if we are able to see the stars, we have a good chance of seeing the Aurora. The weather in Tromsø changes quickly, so we cannot tell for sure what the weather will be like, even just a week before your Northern Light tour departures. We cannot say what kind of weather it will be like next month or in three months. Where we drive, is decided on the same day as the tour departures as the weather forecast changes a lot and quickly, so we want to delay our decision as long as possible to get the best chances of finding clear sky.
Once we have found clear sky, all we can do is to wait. Some days we must wait 20 minutes and sometimes we must wait 4 hours. This brings us to the second most important factor, the activity level of the Northern Light. This, we cannot predict either, the same applies here as with the weather forecast. We don’t know if it will be strong Northern Light in a specific week next month or if will be a lot of strong Northern Light in March. The difference here is that we can somewhat see what kind of activity level it will be a few days before departure, but this is also just a forecast which means it can and will change. There have been many times where the indicators tell us that it will be strong Northern Light and then it is weak Northern Light instead, and vise versa.
Seeing the Northern Light is a lot about luck as the weather must be okay, the activity level has to okay, we have to be at the correct place at the correct time and so on. The guides decide along with the Polar Adventures Northern light team where to drive before the tour starts, but during the tour the guide will use all their available tools and knowledge to take you where the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are the greatest.
So, the questions shouldn’t be “When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?”, but rather “What can I do to optimize my chances of seeing the Northern Lights?”. Well, there are two things:
1. Book your Northern Light tour on your first available night
You can then book another tour if you are not successful on your first try and/or we can move your booking to another day if the chances are low on the day you had booked, and the chances are better on another day, this depends also on if we have available places.
2. Check the weather forecast 4-7 days before the start of the tour
If you are unsure of which days are the best, check the weather forecast, but do not only check the weather forecast for Tromsø as we never stay on the island to see the lights. Check the weather forecast an hour drive north, south, west, and east. We can drive quite far to see the lights if we have too. The very best here, is to either give us a call for a nice briefing and discussion, or even better, come by our office so we can show and explain our point of view while we take a coffee.
The third point is something you cannot do, but it is about our Northern Light policy. If we see that the weather is very bad on the day you have booked and the chances of seeing anything are close to none, we will cancel the tour. We will then offer you to move your booking to the first available day also considering the weather. If you cannot change your booking to another day or we don’t have available places on the days you have availability, we will also offer you to move your booking to another tour. This can be the Northern Light tour by boat, Whale Safari, or our Fjord & Fishing Cruise. If you cannot change the date or change to another tour, we will cancel your booking and provide you with a full refund.
On the nights where the weather is tricky and the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are low, but still present, we will inform all our guests at check-in what the plan is and how we see what our chances are of seeing anything. After the briefing, you will be offered to leave the bus and get a full refund or join the tour and get a 30 % discount on a new tour if we don’t see any Aurora. It is possible to leave the bus and move your booking to another day, but the guides cannot change your booking at check in, so this must be done the following day with our booking team.
So, in summary,there is a lot of factors that we must think of before we drive and we can never guarantee that we will see anything since the Northern Light is a natural phenomenon, but one thing can we guarantee:
The Northern Light guides and everyone in Polar Adventures will do everything they can to make sure that you get to see the Aurora Borealis.