Your Guide to the Northern Lights


One of the most expansive and friendly places to see the northern lights is in Yellowknife!

The Northern Lights are a natural, colourful display of dancing lights in the Earth’s sky. They appears in the near-Arctic and Antarctic regions during the winter season.

Also called polar lights and southern lights, the word “Aurora” comes from the Roman Goddess of dawn “Aurora” who announced the coming of the sun. The scientific term Aurora borealis is used for the aurora in the northern hemisphere, while for the southern hemisphere, the term is aurora australis.

Technically, they are caused by a disturbance when the magnetic waves of the Earth and the solar wind collide and react in the Earth’s atmosphere. While it is mainly a visual phenomenon, it may be accompanied by a slow hissing or cracking sound made by the collision of charged particles.

One of the world’s best locations to behold the aurora borealis is in Canada. Home to 80-90% of all accessible land located under the Aurora Oval, the area with the strongest geomagnetic activity—producing the world’s brightest and most frequent displays of the northern lights. Yellowknife is known as the “Aurora Capital of North America,” thanks to our prime location and excellent viewing conditions. On the shores of Great Slave Lake, travelers have a 95% chance of spotting the lights. 

So what makes the aurora borealis unique in Yellowknife? Well, according to the locals, the aurora there is visible more than half a year-round. It starts from August, before the advent of winter, and stays till mid-March, the beginning of spring. That’s about 240 days out of 365!

3 Ways to See the Northern Lights in Yellowknife

  • If you are a winter, literally freezing-cold-winter driver, then you can drive around looking for the lights in the sky from darker, out-of-city areas. 
  • Book an aurora chase tour. The tour group will drive you outside the city and know exactly where to set you up for the perfect view. 
  • The most unique and traditional way is to stay at the Aurora village. You and your group will experience a teepee set up in the wilderness, with basic amenities and cultural highlights

Witnessing the northern lights is a transformational bucket-list experience that many people wait years—even a lifetime—to see! The right location and a clear sky are all that make the experience magical.


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