The thrill of seeing the Northern Lights for the first – or even hundredth – time is one that stays with you for life.
The experience tends to leave people scrambling for words to really capture how they feel. A few we often hear include surreal, mesmerizing, enchanting, captivating and (we particularly like this one) life-changing.
In an era of technology where most of the mysteries of life have been explained by science, the spectacle of the Northern Lights is something that still maintains a sense of magic and wonder.
Every show is different and all of them are sheer magic. There’s next to no light pollution here and our dark, star-filled skies provide the perfect backdrop for the Northern Lights’ magical dance.
Want to know how to sell Northern Lights viewing to your clients? We’ve got you covered.
What’s the best time of year to see the Northern Lights?
They are visible in Yukon skies from late August to early April. There are two distinct viewing seasons – the winter season from October to April and the fall season in August and September.
What’s the difference between fall and winter Northern Lights viewing?
The Northern Lights are awesome in every season!
Which season to recommend to your clients really depends on what other experiences they want to have in the Yukon.
One of the less well-known attractions of the Yukon are its fall colours. The landscape just glows. Warmer weather means visitors have a wide menu of outdoor adventure options, as well as touring and sightseeing. It’s also an excellent time to see wildlife, with birds and animals preparing for the coming winter or beginning their migration south.
Winter is the main Northern Lights viewing season. A winter trip means snow, and the opportunity to experience some uniquely northern activities. It may be cold, but winter allows visitors to really experience the unique Yukon lifestyle.
Can you guarantee my clients will see the Northern Lights?
No! Nature is....well.....nature. It doesn’t perform on cue. And let’s be honest, if the lights appeared at a scheduled time every night it would take away much of the magic. Part of the excitement of Northern Lights viewing is the anticipation – the not knowing. Its that moment when you’re just about to give up for the night and suddenly the sky lights up. And everybody starts squealing.
While we are able to predict with a reasonable degree of certainty when the lights will be at their most active over coming days, it isn’t a perfect science. Atmospheric and weather conditions sometimes mean that the lights aren’t visible.
That’s why we recommend a minimum 3 night stay, so your clients have their best chance of experiencing the lights at least once.
But even if the lights don’t make an appearance, they’ll still be blown away by the incredible number of stars. Millions and millions of them.
What else can my clients do?
The best way to present Northern Lights viewing to your clients is as part of a complete package that includes exciting daytime activities, unique accommodations, a vibrant culinary scene and spectacular scenery.
In the fall, in late August or September, crisp nights are made for curling up by a roaring fire and provide perfect conditions for Northern Lights viewing. With warmer days visitors can choose from a wide variety activities such as hiking, canoeing, mountain biking or simply enjoying the spectacular scenery of the seasonal change.
Winter visitors can travel through a frosty winter landscape mushing their own team of sled dogs, or for more speed, on a snowmobile. And while they’re out there they can try their hand at ice-fishing or strap on some snowshoes and wander through the boreal forest. At the end of the day, they can retire to a cozy wilderness lodge or cabin, or in stylish downtown Whitehorse digs and enjoy all the city’s amenities. Throw in a few “only in the Yukon” winter festivals and you have the perfect northern experience.
Where should my clients stay?
When it comes to accommodation there are two basic options.
The first is to stay in a comfortable downtown hotel in Whitehorse. Tour operators will pick guests up each evening and take them out of town to custom built viewing sites for 4 to 5 hours. Here they can warm up in heated facilities, drink hot chocolate and swap stories with other guests around the campfire while they wait for the lights to appear. This option is perfect for clients who want the flexibility to explore all Whitehorse has to offer – from art galleries and entertainment to an eclectic restaurant scene.
The second option is a lodge or cabin stay. This choice is perfect for clients looking to really get away from it all and immerse themselves in the Yukon’s wilderness. Accommodations range from rustic to luxurious and can include a range of daytime activities, gourmet meals, spa treatments and plenty of rest and relaxation. This option also means that guests can watch for the lights from the comfort of their cabin and for as long as they choose each night.
There are a myriad of ways to see the Northern Lights. Tour operators offer all kinds of options – so many that your clients will be spoiled for choice.
And if they want to view it from 36,000 feet on a B737 charging 900km/h straight into the Northern Lights? We have that too.
Define “Yukon cold”...
We’re not going to lie... it can get cold here in winter.
But the season is such an integral part of the Yukon lifestyle that it makes it one of the most interesting times to visit. Winters here are cold and dry with temperatures ranging from around zero degrees Celsius to the -20’s with occasional dips to 40 below. That’s why we recommend you encourage all your clients to purchase a winter clothing package (yes, even those of you in Canada!). And don’t forget the lip balm.
As they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
My client wants to photograph the lights... what should I tell them?
Part of the fun of experiencing the Northern Lights are the bragging rights you get back home. Not to mention the social media likes!
Northern Lights photography is not as simple as snapping a photo of a beautiful landscape. If your clients are keen to try their hand at it we suggest they study up before leaving home. They’ll need a camera with a manual mode (and to know how to use it before they get here) and a tripod.
Here’s a link for tips straight from a pro photographer: https://www.kevinpepperphotography.com/blog/2016/9/5/how-to-best-photograph-the-northern-lights
But our best tip...remember to step back from the viewfinder and just soak in the majesty of the lights with your eyes.
If you have more questions or need help with selling Yukon Northern Lights viewing packages, we’re here to help.