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Baltic Travel Blog

Midnight Sun and White Nights – Northern Lights and White Days

Posted on May 10th, 2016.

What is the Midnight Sun, apart from being both beautiful and astonishing?

Is it a natural phenomenon? When does it occur and where?

Well, it occurs in the local months of summer in places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle. In these places, the sun will be visible at the local midnight time. So which countries does this appear?. The countries where it is really pronounced are Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Canada and America (Alaska).

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On Svalbard in Norway, the sun does not set from around April 19th to August 23rd. This is the time of the year where the Northern People “live” and enjoy life in amazing light before the sun starts to withdraw as a precursor to the onset of months of darkness.

Other popular names are summer solstice and midsummer. At extreme latitudes, it is called Polar Day

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White Nights is the terminology used for a period between June 11th and July 2nd in St. Petersburg, Russia during which there is a 10 day White Nights Festival with a range of cultural events arranged and a huge amount of fun. Saint Petersburg is a location that is 6 to 7 degrees below the horizon i.e. technically not above the Polar Circle, so there is still what is called the Twilight zone enabling daytime activities such as reading with just natural light.

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So what is the opposite of the Midnight Sun and White Nights? That is the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis ) and White Days in the wintertime, when there is very little light for only a few hours a day, at its extreme.

Does this effect people? And animals? Well, some think they suffer from insomnia due to the constant light 24 hours a day. If you want to see more, a Japanese film, Midnight Sun, featuring Schwarzenegger and Thorne, started casting in 2015 in Vancouver.

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Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” uses Midnight Sun in the lyrics (“We come from the land of ice and snow/From the Midnight Sun where the hot springs flow”). This was written after a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, during their tour in 1970. Other bands have included Midnight Sun in their lyrics too, like Poison’s “Ride the Wind”, “Midnight Sun” by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke. Maggie Reilly, in 1993, wrote and recorded “Follow the Midnight Sun”. It has an effect on people to the point that songs are written about it.

And another one has caught onto the phenomenon, namely the very well-known Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo, and written Blood on Snow 2 called Midnight Sun so you can catch the excitement in a remote Norwegian mountain town far north……………and so it continues.

Tromso by Visit Tromso (4)

Northern Lights and White Days

We have had travellers going to Russia, especially St. Petersburg over New Year (the Orthodox Christmas and New Year is 7 days later than the Western ones), so enjoying Christmas spirit Russian style at New Year and expanding into New Year Russia style – two in one so to speak. They have said that the wintry atmosphere, combined with lots of lights, Skating, Museums, Hotels, Ballet, Dances as in the times of the Tsars, Fireworks, Theatres and the like,  have heightened their cultural, historical and architectural senses and they have enjoyed the experience actually more than visiting Russia in the summertime.

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You might be lucky to see the Northern Lights but with the snow (mostly) covering the landscape, the buildings, the city (cities), possibly a train ride up to Murmansk, where you have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis or even further to Kirkenes in Norway, you will have explored this overwhelming beauty: so pack your snow boots and head off.

Northern Lights on Christmas Eve 2014

So what are those Northern Lights, compared to the Midnight Sun. The Northern Lights light up the night sky, surrounded by mountains, snow and little harbours and often in areas known for art, mythology and legends. Again, the same countries as above, namely, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada, Alaska in the US are known for them. If lucky, you can start seeing them from mid August and they will take over when the sun goes down for longer and longer and the sky becomes darker and darker. Mother Nature’s very own Light show becomes more visible the darker the surroundings.

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When the Northern Lights typically finish in April, as it gets lighter and lighter, the Midnight Sun takes over and so the cycle continues…………and the Northern Lights look like an oval-shaped halo in the Northern Hemisphere, surrounding earth up there.

Author: Maria Ozols

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Be the first to hear of Special Offers and travel news. To receive our monthly newsletters with more information, on the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and all the countries Baltic Travel can take you to, and special offers, please enter your email address and press the sign up button.

We never allow third parties to use your data and we do not keep financial information. We protect your data as if it was our own, because we're people too!


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