• Reykjavik – a chance to see the Northern Lights

    by  • October 3, 2013 • Aurora Borealis, City Breaks, Nature, Reykjavik

    A few days ago I posted a blog on the subject of EasyJet’s expansion of their routes from Hamburg.  The news from the airline this week is the commencement of two new routes from Bristol Airport – with flights to Reykjavik and Marrakech launching in December 2013. Here I’m going to concentrate on Reykjavik.  The news represents exciting news for people in the south west of England, with the opening of this new service to the Icelandic capital. An EasyJet spokesman said “Reykjavik is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers who are attracted to the fantastic scenery and natural beauty as well as the thriving bar and restaurant scene.”

    Reykjavik is an exciting and unusual city break destination.  With less than 120,00 inhabitants it is a city with a relaxed “small town” atmosphere.  There are plenty of sights in the city to keep most visitors happy for a day or too but you really shouldn’t visit Reykjavik without taking at least one trip out of the city to witness some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery.

    Aurora Borealis

    Aurora Borealis

    Visitors during the winter months will of course be hoping to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.  Some of the best Northern Lights viewing conditions in the world occur in Iceland from late August through to April.  Astronomers are predicting that the Northern Lights will be some of the brightest in decades over the next few years due to a peak in the solar cycle, so now is the time to visit.  The Aurora Borealis are a spectacular natural phenomenon, often seen as waves of brilliantly coloured light dancing across the Arctic sky. The Lights originate from the sun, where large explosions and electronic storms throw flares and solar particles deep into space. These clouds of solar particles are caught by the Earth’s magnetic field at the south and north poles. The particles collide with the gases of Earth’s atmosphere and cause them to glow.  The colours formed depend on the type of gas – oxygen glows red or green while nitrogen produces blue or purple lights.

    Many local operators offer excursions from Reykjavik which aim to see the Northern Lights.  Tours usually leave at about 9pm and visit places far outside the glow of the city lights where the Northern Lights are most likely to be seen, although the spectacle can never be guaranteed and a clear sky is essential.

    Winter days are short in Iceland but in Reykjavik there’s a full calendar of cultural events with festivities galore, concerts, plays and many seasonal exhibitions to keep the visitor entertained.  For outdoor types there are also monster jeep tours, horseback riding, dog sledding and snowmobiling on a glacier. The Christmas season is always celebrated with great enthusiasm.  The city’s buildings, trees and streets are decorated with countless fairy lights, ornaments and Christmas displays. On New Year’s Eve Reykjavík explodes with colour and light in one of the most impressive firework shows you’ll ever see. In February visitors can enjoy the tasty Food & Fun festival, followed closely by the Winter Lights Festival, which always delivers a packed programme full of special events for the whole family.

    If you choose a winter city break in Reykjavik you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, but if not there areplenty of activities to make this a very special and exciting few days.