The northern lights are primarily linked with Scandinavia and Canada, and are one of nature’s most beautiful displays. If you’re lucky, the lights can be seen across the north of the UK, including Northumberland and the Lake District. The greatest places to see the northern lights are Scotland, notably the Scottish Highlands and Scottish Isles. If you want to see the aurora, Northern Wales and Northern Ireland are other great spots to visit.
The best time to see northern lights
The best time to see the spectacular northern lights in the UK is from late September to early March. Subscribe to the Lancaster University’s AuroraWatch UK notifications to increase your chances of seeing the lights during your stay.
The fall equinox, which occurs every September, is thought to be a favorable opportunity to see the phenomenon caused by geomagnetic and solar activity. The shortest days are in December, therefore there are more hours of darkness than the rest of the year. The aurora is more likely to be seen during the spring equinox. However, by late March, these modifications had significantly decreased. The biggest challenges for aurora chasers in the UK are light pollution and cloudiness.
Northern Scotland is the ideal site to see the northern lights due to the lack of light pollution and the fact that it is located at the same latitude as Nunivak Island, Alaska, and Stavanger, Norway. Shetland, Orkney, and the Outer Hebrides, as well as Cattiness, Aberdeen shire, the Moray Coast, Rubna Hunnish in Skye, and far northwest observatories like Applecross, Lochinver, Cairngorms, Angus, the Fife Coast, Rannoch Moor, and Perth shire, are all good places to watch the Northern Lights. Galloway Forest Park in Scotland is also home to the UK’s only dark sky park. Even in Edinburgh, the aurora can be seen from Colton Hill or Arthur’s Seat.
Northern Lights can also be seen in England under certain conditions, particularly in Northumberland, the Lake District, Cornwall, and Oxford shire. The Lake District is a fantastic place to start. Derwent water, in Keswick, is a popular spot for aurora borealis chasers because the nearby lake makes for a beautiful backdrop for photos.
The International Dark Sky Park, Europe’s largest protected night sky area, is located in Northumberland, making it a perfect location for viewing the northern lights and astronomy. Exmore National Park in Devon, as well as the Cornish coastline, are popular tourist destinations.
Anglesey is one of Wales’ best places to see the northern lights. Holy Island to the west and a few smaller islets make up the island, which is located off the north-west Welsh coast in the Irish Sea. Anglesey is occasionally blessed with aurora borealis, notably around the autumn and spring equinoxes.
Another fantastic place to go aurora hunting is the Brecon Beacons. In South Wales, there is a mountain range and a National Park. Pen y Fan, South Wales’ tallest peak, is included. It is also recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve. In less than an hour, you can reach the Brecon Beacons National Park from Cardiff.
The lights are best seen in Northern Ireland from the Antrim shoreline, which has a clear view of the northern horizon across the Malin Sea. Downhill Demesne on the North Coast, as well as the ruins of Dunluce Castle, are popular shooting places along the shore, providing a fantastic backdrop for the lights.
The Sperrin Mountains are another famous destination that benefits from their elevation. This is one of Northern Ireland’s largest upland areas. The northern lights reflect beautifully on Lough Fea Lake, which is situated amid the highlands. Beaghmore stone circles, located about 8.5 miles (13 kilometres) north-west of Cookstown in Tyrone County, are another very attractive site on the south-east side of the Sperrin Range.
The best spots in the UK to watch the Northern Lights
If you’ve always wanted to view the Northern Lights, you don’t have to travel to the Arctic to do so. This natural phenomenon has been observed in certain parts of the UK, including as far south as Pembroke shire.
Derwent water, Cumbria
Derwent water is known as the ‘Queen of the Lakes,’ and the Northern Lights displays that emerge over the water are its crowning feature. Even if you don’t have a chance to see the Aurora Borealis, it’s still a lovely site for stargazing on a clear night.
Brecon Beacons, South Wales
In the Brecon Beacons National Park, you might get lucky and view the Northern Lights from time to time. Because the area has been classified as an International Dark Sky Reserve, it’s an excellent place to look for the natural phenomena.
Stack pole, Pembroke shire
Broad Haven beach in Pembroke shire, which is part of the former great estate at Stack pole, is an excellent Dark Sky Discovery location for viewing the night sky. The parking park above the beach offers excellent views, and the Northern Lights have been observed from here in the past.