The season to watch the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the northern lights, has begun. From around October to March, the lengthening days and darkening nights provide ideal conditions to see the Aurora.
Much of Canada lies under the auroral oval, which means the lights can be seen from destinations across the country. The likes of Yukon in the west and Quebec in the east are just some of the regions where visitors on holiday in Canada can see this natural phenomenon.
If you have always dreamt of standing under a clear night sky to watch the northern lights, then read our guide to the five best places do it in Canada. Better yet, take the first step towards making your dream come true and check out the holidays we have in our northern lights brochure.
1. Whitehorse, Yukon
The northern lights are a regular sight for those lucky enough to visit the Yukon between autumn and spring.
Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, is the best place to see the array of blues, reds, greens and violets of the northern lights.
The northern lights of the Yukon tour takes you away from the city to view the dramatic displays where there is no light pollution. Relax in a heated cabin or walled tent, while guides treat you to hot chocolate, tea and marshmallows beside a bonfire.
While you stay in Whitehorse you can explore the scenic city, which was a gold rush settlement, and take in the stunning backdrop of the nearby mountains. During the day, go for a soak in the natural mineral Takhini Hotsprings, a 20-minute drive from Whitehorse. Also nearby is the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which is home to wood bison, woodland caribou, elk and lynx.
Best northern light photos from Whitehorse
2. Churchill, Manitoba
From polar bears to northern lights, Churchill offers a truly unrivalled arctic experience.
The town sits under the auroral zone and Travel Manitoba says the northern lights can be seen dancing in the sky over 300 nights a year.
An ultimate polar bear expedition lets you mix seeing the northern lights with watching polar bears hunt for food on the frozen Hudson Bay.
Custom-built Tundra vehicles are the best way to travel in this landscape. Far from being shy, the polar bears have been known to come right alongside the vehicles to sneak a peek at visitors.
After spotting wildlife, sit back, relax and watch nature’s greatest show from a plexi-glass Aurora Dome.
Best northern light photos from Churchill
3. Kuujjuaq, Quebec
The northern region of Quebec is located right beneath the aurora oval. On the west shore of the Koksoak River, Kuujjuaq is a great place to see the northern lights.
Kuujjuaq is the largest village in Quebec’s Nunavik region. If you are looking to get a great view of the aurora borealis then simply drive a little way out of the village and look up to see the incredible displays.
If you are staying in Kuujjuaq for a few days then try your hand at trout fishing or go on expeditions to see local wildlife such as caribou.
Best northern light photos from Quebec
4. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
One of the top northern lights destinations is Yellowknife, and for two good reasons. It is directly under the auroral oval and, due to the area being mostly flat, it offers unobstructed views of the aurora borealis displays above.
Unlike in the south, where the northern lights can be seen along the horizon, the displays here are seen directly overhead.
Sitting on the shores of the Great Slave Lake, this provincial capital has a lot of activities for visitors to try. Have a go at winter adventures such as dog sledding, snowmobiling and snow shoeing to name a few.
Best northern light photos from Yellowknife
5. Edmonton, Alberta
While it is generally best to escape the bright lights of a city to see the northern lights, residents of Alberta’s capital see their share of the aurora borealis.
In the past, Edmontonians have captured incredible displays dancing above the city’s skyscrapers on clear nights. If you are renting a car in Canada, there are lots of dark skies only a short drive away from Edmonton where you can see the northern lights in their full glory.