Grab a front row seat
Just because the summer has come to an end, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about holidays. Now is the perfect time to start planning a break with a difference – and one that you are sure to remember forever.
As far as exhilarating natural wonders go, you can’t get much more spectacular than the aurora borealis, or northern lights. These dramatic iridescent light formations have captured the imagination of people for millennia and have inspired countless myths and legends.
The aurora season typically runs from September or early October until late March – and the great news is that now is the best time to see the northern lights for a decade.
At present we are experiencing a solar peak that will boost the chances of not only witnessing the northern lights this season, but also boosting the intensity of the solar flares as they dance in the sky.
If you haven’t yet experienced one the planet’s greatest natural wonders then there is no better time than now – and here are our best tips for making the most of a trip to explore the wonders of the North.
The gateway to the north
Helsinki is not only the gateway to the aurora zone, but is also the perfect city destination to combine with the wild open spaces of the Arctic Circle. Autumn is one of the best times to sample seasonal Finnish cuisine in the city, as the Autumn harvest reveals a bounty of natural treasures.
At this time of the year the Baltic is at her most generous, and fresh seafood is a particularly plentiful delicacy that should not be missed. Roach, perch, pike, bream and crayfish are all popular, but nothing sums up the love of fresh sea food in the city like the traditional herring festival which is held every October.
The city’s markets are excellent places to experience Helsinki’s culinary heritage, and offer many local delicacies and traditional foods from across the country. Locally made sausages are very popular in Helsinki, and reindeer, moose and even bear meat is served with fragrant wild herbs, flavoursome mushrooms, or sweet lingonberries, cloudberries and cranberries that are prolific at this time of year.
Both the Hakaniemi and Hietalahti Market Halls offer a great selection of shops and stalls where visitors can sample a great variety of local food and produce. Seafood bouillabaisse, meaty treats straight from the grill and deep fried herring can all be eaten on the spot, while browsing for treats to take home for gifts, or perhaps for your own larder.
Arrive later in the year and Helsinki becomes a perfect winter wonderland, with many Christmas markets throughout the city. The most well known takes place in the Senate Square, perhaps because of the perfect festive backdrop of Helsinki’s beautiful Lutheran Cathedral.
Finnish Lapland can be reached in just an hour from Helsinki, and with daily connections it’s easy to explore the wonders of this unspoiled wilderness. It is easy to forget the hustle and bustle of every-day modern life here, and the complete peace and quiet is one of the main attractions of this stunning and unique region.
Log cabins and glass roofed igloos set amidst the brilliant white snow and pine forests of Finnish Lapland provide the truly splendid backdrop for watching the aurora borealis. Head high above the Arctic Circle into the pristine wilds where the opportunity for viewing the northern lights can be combined with a range of exhilarating activities offering the perfect winter escape.
With over 200 nights of the year when the northern lights are visible, there is no better place in the world to view nature’s most spectacular light show. According to local Sami folklore, the lights are caused when the fox runs over the fell, and swirls up the snow with its tail sending sparks into the sky. It’s an enchanting tale from a country that is full of surprises, and is sure to take your breath away.
The Visit Helsinki LGBT network has a range of professional tour operators who can arrange every detail of your visit to Helsinki as well as further afield in Finland.
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