5 ways to view the northern lights in Churchill, Manitoba
Canada’s mystical aurora borealis has captured the imagination of Aussie travellers, with more and more people planning their bucket-list adventure every year – and now is the time to book.
Nature’s most spectacular phenomenon can be viewed 300 days per year in Churchill, due to its position directly under the aurora oval in Canada’s central province of Manitoba.
With prime viewing taking place in February and March, the aurora is often visible as early as August, when the warmer temperatures, clear skies, and early nightfall lends itself to these heart-stopping light displays.
Read on for five exciting ways to witness the greatest light show on earth and take advantage of great travel deals out now.
1- Snuggle up with a loved one in a quintessential wilderness lodge in the heart of the tundra for the ultimate Canadian escapade. Concerned about falling asleep and missing the show? Stay in one of Churchill Wild’s three luxury eco-lodges, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Dymond Lake Lodge and Seal River Heritage Lodge, where you’ll be gently woken by a friendly host as soon as the lights appear.
2- Join a Northern Lights and Winter Nights adventure, where you can take in this night sky phenomenon from the comfort of a Tundra Buggy amid a wintry Narnia-style landscape. Sip hot chocolate in the Aurora Lounge as you peer through the panoramic windows, climb onto the roof-top observation deck, or (if you’re particularly warm-blooded), climb right down onto the ground for the best possible photographs taken directly from the tundra.
Your Frontiers North Interpretive Guide will be on-hand to offer camera tips for capturing this other-worldly, light parade.
3- At the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) you can learn how to build your own igloo – and sleep in it! Take advantage of the 360-degree glass aurora dome and observation deck that offer ideal vantage points to marvel at the glowing ribbons of light as they cascade across the pitch-black sky.
By day, participate in the “Winter Skies: Aurora & Astronomy in Churchill” program and learn all about this natural wonder during expert-led presentations at this active research facility.
4- Recline in a theatre-style chair in an Aurora Pod with Natural Habitat Adventures. This fully heated, geometric, glass construction offers unobstructed sky views. Climb the ladder to the upper level for unimpeded circular views, or head outside for jealousy-inducing photographs to set your Instagram page on fire.
By day, explore First Nations heritage on a dog sled through the boreal forest. Visit the Itsanitaq Museum and discover the culture and traditions of the Inuit and Dene peoples who flourished in the harsh Arctic climate for thousands of years.
5- Combine the ultimate foodie experience with a magical skyscape at RAW:churchill, taking place every March until 2020. At 58° North latitude near Churchill, dinner is served by leading Canadian chef, Mandel Hitzer, inside the walls of the 300-year-old Prince of Wales fort under the dancing northern lights.
Hitzer was the founding chef for RAW:almond and owns the celebrated Winnipeg restaurant, Deer + Almond.
About the aurora borealis
The aurora borealis (or northern lights) is a natural phenomenon caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the upper atmosphere. These colourful dancing ribbons of light are most resplendent from January to March.
Churchill, Manitoba, is located directly beneath the Van Allen Belt, a layer of energy-charged particles that wraps the polar regions and is held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field, creating one of the heaviest concentrations of auroral activity in the world.
Air Canada has direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Vancouver, with connecting services to Winnipeg. Alternatively, VIA Rail, the national Canadian rail service runs from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The two-day journey spans British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan before reaching Manitoba, the heart of Canada. Calm Air International provides frequent flights between Winnipeg and Churchill. www.travelmanitoba.com