Posted by on 26 Apr 2023
The Northern Lights, or the aurora borealis, have painted the night sky and charmed spectators for millennia. Sightings of the dazzling light show are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For this reason, it’s worth chasing these majestic lights on your next holiday.
Multiple areas in the Arctic Circle, including Canada, have some of the best places to see the Northern Lights. In this guide, we’re sharing the top locations to catch this magnificent display in Canada.
When Can You See the Northern Lights in Canada?
Early autumn and winter get the most aurora borealis sightings. That’s because there are more hours of darkness and chilly yet clear nights during these seasons.
As for the best time to see the Northern Lights, you’ll have to wait until around midnight. The spectacle usually fills the night sky from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Where Can You See the Northern Lights in Canada?
If witnessing the aurora borealis is on your bucket list, here are some good viewing spots to consider.
The Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories are considered the prime destination for aurora borealis sightings. Here, the Northern Lights captivate people for 240 nights a year, particularly during the autumn, winter, and even summer seasons.
Flying solo in autumn? Stay at the The Aurora Village outside Yellowknife is another top aurora borealis viewing spot. Spectators are welcome to stay in this village in roomy, wood-stove heated teepees with fur-lined sofas and warmed, reclining viewing capsules.
Torngat Mountains National Park
This park is located on the Labrador Peninsula and boasts striking landscapes and ancient rock formations.
You’ll be able to explore the wilderness through an Inuit cultural lens. You can join Inuit as they gather food for base camp and trek to magnificent fjords, listening to their stories as you feast on delicious local cuisine cooked over an open fire, with the aurora borealis glistening from above.
For a look at the Northern Lights during summer, the Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station. This remote station allows you to watch the natural light show amongst the great wilderness.
Banff National Park
The next best spot in Canada to witness the Northern Lights is found in Alberta. This national park offers stunning views against a pitch-black sky with little to no light pollution enveloping it. Aurora sightings in Banff often hit their peak from September to mid-May.
While here, you’ll also be treated to the sight of glittering glacial lakes, picturesque Rocky Mountain peaks, and abundant wildlife. There are also various outdoor activities in some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain sceneries, such as hiking, skiing, camping, and biking.
If you’re seeing the Northern Lights in autumn, throw camping and other top Canadian Rockies activities into the mix. But before you head to Banff, check Aurora Watch for the perfect time to catch the light show there.
Ontario is a top aurora-viewing destination in the lower half of Canada. September and October are optimal months for sightings, especially from these places within the province:
- Manitoulin Island
- Cree Village Ecolodge
- Pukaskwa National Park
- Killarney Mountain Lodge
- Gordon’s Park Eco Resort
You’ll find Churchill in Northern Manitoba, an area within the sub-Arctic Circle. The self-proclaimed “one of the top three places” for aurora borealis sightings welcomes scientists and travellers seeking a clear, detailed glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Seeing the Northern Lights in Churchill is already memorable in itself. But the province is also an excellent spot for encounters with the town’s wildlife, like beluga whales, polar bears, and Arctic foxes, making for a more unforgettable experience. You can look forward to these activities in February or March when temperatures go 40° below zero.
September to April is aurora viewing season in this northwestern Canadian territory, particularly in the city of Whitehorse. Amazing landscapes await visitors who want to view the aurora borealis above Yukon’s capital.
Autumn sets the stage for aurora sightings in Whitehorse. During this season, you can catch the Northern Lights from a prospector-style tent camp within the city’s wilderness. Some tours that offer this experience may provide you with barrel stoves, hot beverages, and other items to warm you up while waiting for the celestial aurora to appear.
Nunavut is another top viewing area for the Northern Lights, with vast tundras and a prime location far north of the Arctic Circle.
In spring and summer, the sun can shine over this territory for 16 hours (May to August) or a full day (June and July). But once the colder season comes, you can expect long nights between October and April. Nunavut locals and visitors enjoy frequent aurora displays during these months.
Prime aurora viewing destinations within the territory include:
- Kimmirut, one of Nunavut’s remote Inuit communities with kayaking and iceberg spotting opportunities
- Whale Cove - This area on the long point of land that stretches to Hudson Bay offers experiences such as fishing and beluga whale watching alongside aurora viewing.
Muncho Lake Provincial Park
Spending your holiday in British Columbia? Head to the province’s northern areas, where several of the most scenic landscapes for aurora sightings are located. Muncho Lake Provincial Park is one destination with scenery that boasts "folding" mountains and other distinctive natural features that the Lights shine over.
If you’re after mesmerising aurora viewing in the Provincial Park, consider a multiple-day stay at the Northern Rockies Lodge. Once you’re all settled in this log-hewn accommodation, you can wait until the aurora’s image emerges in Muncho Lake’s aqua-green waters.
See the Northern Lights Up Close in Canada
A look at the Northern Lights is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss, and Canada is a prime destination for it. The country houses many ideal aurora viewing spots with distinct charms and experiences to match the wondrous spectacle all awaiting you and other travellers.