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Come for the lights. Leave enlightened.

"The Lights are out!" A cry of delight echoes through remote lodges or busy Yellowknife restaurants, sending everyone scurrying for the exits with their parkas half-zipped and their cameras whirring to life. Above, a phosphorescent fog floats in the ink-black sky. It creeps across the dome of the night, gaining intensity, flickering with tendrils of emerald, then jade, like plumes of strange fire. Around you, the evergreens are framed in a weird unearthly gleam. You're gasping and squealing with complete strangers. Don't be embarrassed. You've just witnessed nature's greatest lightshow.

The Northwest Territories is the world’s Northern Lights mecca. Here, the Aurora dance up to 240 nights per year. Why are the Northern Lights so frequent in the NWT? Because Canada’s subarctic is blessed with crystal-clear nights, ultra-low humidity, and a perfect location directly beneath the Earth’s band of maximal Auroral activity – the “Auroral oval.”

Seeing Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories is a different experience from seeing them anywhere else. Here, the Northern Lights are the strongest in the world – the colours are brighter, the displays last longer, the movements are more elaborate – all of this creates a world of spectacular dances performed right above us almost every night. More than just brief glimpses of colour in the sky, Northern Lights in the NWT are humbling and otherworldly and fill our open skies with memorable and magical displays. There’s no better place to see the best Aurora in the world than the Northwest Territories.

There are two Aurora seasons in the Northwest Territories. There’s autumn, when the land and lakes are still warm, and winter, when the lakes are frozen over. Licensed NWT tour operators provide all manner of Northern Lights experiences – from rugged “aurora-hunting” adventures to pampered stays at luxury lodges – giving you a front-row seat to the mysterious, magical and life-affirming cosmic dance.

Why is our Aurora the best in the world?

Why is our Aurora the best in the world? The Northwest Territories are located directly under the Auroral Oval - a concentrated area for the most intense Northern Lights activity anywhere on Earth. Combined with low-humidity, our skies are wide, open and clear for the Aurora to come out and amaze you during the different viewing seasons.

Chart showing best viewing times of the Aurora Borealis

What is the Auroral oval?

The Auroral oval is why the Northwest Territories gets to witness amazing Northern Lights displays for up to 240 nights per year.

The strength of the magnetic poles of the Earth pulls particles from solar activity and directs them to a concentrated spot on the globe – the Auroral Oval. This is why the NWT, which sits directly under the Aurora Oval, has the strongest and most vibrant Northern Lights – we’ve got front-row seats.

When is the best time to come see the Aurora?

There are two Aurora seasons in the Northwest Territories. Fall (late summer) Aurora from mid August till the end of September, and Winter Aurora from mid November all the way till early April. During these times, the sky is clear, the nights are dark, and the Northern Lights are spectacularly powerful – sometimes filling the sky from horizon to horizon.

Aurora and Indigenous Culture

The history of the Aurora in the NWT is timeless, and nobody knows its legacy better than the Indigenous cultures that have been here since the beginning. Nothing is more impactful than participating in oral storytelling and hearing the legends of the Aurora while you watch the lights dance across the sky. It’s an experience you can only get here and it’s like no other.Legends of the Aurora