One of the most peculiar phenomena that occur on our planet is the appearance of the Midnight Sun. Due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis, this strange occurrence happens once a year around the summer solstice (sometimes for several weeks!), where the sun is visible for 24 hours (granted there are no clouds to block it). The opposite also happens in the same regions, the Arctic Circle, throughout the winter months.
The Arctic Circle is located within a radius of about 5000 miles of the North Pole, which covers parts of Alaska (USA), Canada, Russia, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. There is technically no true time zone in these regions, but these countries keep track of this event using their local time zones. Here are 7 cities you can visit to see the Midnight Sun or Polar Night.
Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
Fairbanks is located just 120 miles from the Arctic Circle and experiences ever-lengthening days from March until the Summer Solstice in June. Then residents and visitors get to observe the Midnight Sun for a whole month! (Truthfully, the sun is not up for a full 24 hours, but it is very close). Visitors can observe the Midnight Sun Festival – where the streets are filled with vendors, performers, and plenty of people.
Hammerfest is proclaimed to be the northernmost town of the world. It is situated within the Arctic Circle, so it receives the Midnight Sun from mid-May to the end of July. Activities in this town include hiking, fishing, boating, and mountain biking – all great activities for an outdoors enthusiast.
This city is a very popular vacation destination. The sun is present for 21 hours, rising at 3am and setting at midnight on the summer solstice. During that time the city is abuzz with celebrations and activities including music festivals and a half-marathon. Reykjavik is also nearby to great spans of natural beauty including mountains and forests, ideal locations for nature watching and hiking.
Helsinki is a well-liked tourist destination in Finland, where the main activities include boating to visit islands off the coast. Visitors can travel to the nearby island of Lapland to attend the Midnight Sun Film Festival or they can head over to Haparanda for the Kallotjazz and Blues festival.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg neither experiences a true Midnight Sun nor a true Polar Night, but it does have what locals call the white night. This phenomenon occurs between May and July where the days are long and the sky doesn’t go completely dark, but rather remains a pale white color.
Svalbard is a group of islands north of Norway toward the North Pole. This is about the northmost point that visitors can travel without ending up in the Arctic. The Polar Nights occur between the months of November and January, when the islands do not see the sun at all. Against the dark background, it is easier to spot the mystifying Aurora Borealis.
Tromsø experiences the Polar Night between November and January as well but there is the occasional sunset which lights up the sky with beautiful colors. The Aurora Borealis can also be seen from this location. Locals in the town are said to be filled with good cheer and merriment during this season which helps to balance the long hours of darkness.