The most popular times for touring the Far North tends to be during the deep, long winters when revelers want to gaze up at the magnificent Northern Lights. But summer in the North isn’t to be discounted! The midnight sun and months of eternal light are incredibly special. The power and the energy that comes from constant sunlight is invigorating. Here are 5 of the best places to bask in the sun, day and night, this summer.
By: Keith David Langston
Hammerfest is dubbed as the “word’s northernmost town” and is located right at the top of mainland Norway. It’s special because it’s the only real development for miles upon miles in all directions. You can use Hammerfest as a launching point for cruising to the Svalbard islands, or you can stay in the Hammerfest area where you can go deep sea fishing, hike Mount Tyven, bike the coastline…oh, and did I mention the large herd of reindeer that regularly traverse through the city? You can do all this while having access to Hammfest’s restaurants and hotels (things that tend to be hard to find in the barren North.) But with the sun constantly shining, why sleep? Go for a midnight bike ride, or better yet, a midnight boat ride!
If you don’t feel like grabbing your passport, be sure to head to Fairbanks to glimpse the mythic midnight sun. Actually, you know what, I shouldn’t say “glimpse” because according to the Fairbank’s Midnight Sun Tracker, they experience the midnight sun for MONTHS! Their official Midnight Sun season is April 22 – August 20. That is nuts!
Fairbanks uses these 70 days of light to their fullest. During the midnight sun they hold regular “nighttime” hikes, bike rides, and even an annual baseball game that doesn’t begin until 10:30pm! One of the highlights is their Midnight Sun Festival on June 22nd and 23rd, the day of the solstice.
Looking for somewhere a little more off the beaten path? Perhaps Levi, Finland is more your style. Levi is a ski resort that turns into an epic summer destination during what the Finns call “Midsummer.” At Levi, you can golf their open-24-hrs golf course during the summer months, take a summer sleigh ride, and partake in the Finnish holiday Juhannus. This is a holiday that celebrates the true start of their summer vacation, and locals light massive bonfires, pick flowers to cast ancient fertility spells, and lounge in saunas with their friends. If you’re not in the mood to party, go ahead and hike up one of the hillsides and bask in the glory of a true endless summer.
For a truly unreal experience, head to the Swedish Lapland to feel like you’ve been transported into The Lord of the Rings. During the midnight sun you can take a midnight horseback ride and be served Swedish coffee at the end of your journey, enjoy guided canoe trips in the middle of the “night”, go bear spotting, or even fly fishing.
The thing to remember is that in the Far North, their winters are long and dark. So when the midnight sun comes along, they are ready to be as active as possible. If you visit during the summer, be sure to go with an open mind and a sense of adventure.
I ran away into the woods once, where I was doing odd-jobs in the middle of nowhere. It was here that I first experienced the midnight sun. I was staying about 90 miles north of Yellowknife, and visited the town a few times during my stay. Yellowknife has Precambrian rock rising above the endless lakes, houseboats float near shore, and jack pines stand proud.
In July, Yellowknife hosts the Midnight Sun Fly In, where pilots and visitors can take floatplanes into the Great Slave Lake and enjoy the endless night together. Folk on the Rocks is one of Canada’s longest running music festivals. It starts Friday night and then just goes on and on until Sunday. With the sun never setting, why bother stopping? Other awesome activities include grabbing a drink and dinner the Wildcat Saloon to party the endless night away, visiting a nearby campsite to enjoy the outdoors, or staying overnight in one of the houseboats.