Skip to main content

Find out more about the current wildfire and wildfire-related concerns in the NWT.

Home Story Why the Aurora is Awesome in Summer

Why the Aurora is Awesome in Summer

A dogsled, a snowy trail, and the Aurora. That’s how prospective visitors imagine the Northwest Territories – a winter wonderland, bathed by glowing lights. But increasingly, Aurora-watchers are discovering that the lights are visible long before Old Man Winter arrives.

While it’s true that skygazers must stay up a bit later to enjoy the cosmic light show in early August and through September, they’re in for a treat when the sky finally turns dark enough for the Aurora to emerge. According to many, seeing the Northern Lights is best in summer.

NORTHERN LIGHTS DANCE THROUGH THE SUMMER

The Northern Lights don’t just fire up in winter and then fizzle when summer rolls around. They’re in no way seasonal. Rather, they flash and flicker year-round, their intensity dependent entirely on unpredictable solar events. If a flare of plasma erupts from the sun, spewing charged particles toward the Earth, the Northern Lights will appear above any time of year, be it June or January. In the Northwest Territories, though, the midnight sun lights up the sky from around mid-April to late July keeping us from seeing the Aurora during this time.

GOODBYE MIDNIGHT SUN. HELLO SUMMER AURORA

In mid-June, when the everlasting midnight sun blazes in the Northern sky, you can’t really glimpse the Aurora – nor the moon or the stars. But as after summer’s peak passes , we trade one celestial show for another. By early August, the midnight sun fades and darkness creeps back to the North’s night skies. By late August, Fort Smith, at the Alberta border, enjoys four hours of pitch-blackness each night and plenty of twilight on either side. Yellowknife is inky for at least two hours, with lots of additional dusk and dawn. By late September, of course, the dark is back in force, creating prime Aurora-viewing conditions for 12 hours per night or more.

CLEAR SUMMER SKIES SET THE STAGE

While it’s true that our cold, dry winters offer crisp views of the cosmos, Yellowknife also enjoys remarkably cloudless summer skies – the clearest of any capital city in Canada. Grey days do indeed become more common as autumn approaches, but Yellowknife’s Septembers are overcast only about 30 percent of the time. Hay River, south of Great Slave Lake, is even more clear – all but 25 percent of the time in September. Only in mid to late October do the clouds roll in, causing most tourism operators to pause and resume Aurora-watching in mid-November.

AURORA TOURS AREN’T JUST FOR WINTER

Our Northern Lights tour operators welcome guests during two high seasons – in summer, from August to early October, and again in winter, from November to mid-April. The tours run the gamut, from cultural experiences under the Northern Lights, to stays at fly-in wilderness lodges, or day-tours in our capital city, Yellowknife.

STILL SPECTACULAR IN SUMMER AND WINTER

It’s wonderful to watch the Northern Lights shimmer in a brittle-cold sky. But the summer Aurora experience is awesome too. It can take the shape of a boat tour beneath the Lights as the colours dance on the water. Or fishing, hiking, or camping as the Lights wriggle overhead. Or even basking in the coziness of a sleeping bag atop a stately outcrop of Canadian Shield, or kicking back around a crackling campfire, and enjoying summer’s balmy warmth as the heavens put on a spectacular show.

Inspired by the magic of the Aurora? Learn more about the best seasons to visit, the cultural importance of the Aurora, and available Northern Lights hunting tours. There is always another unforgettable experience to have under the best Northern Lights in the world.

Being the home of the best Northern Lights in the world is a pretty big claim, but we’ve got the facts to prove it. Before you come to see for yourself, read these 7 reasons why the NWT has the world’s best Aurora.

DISCOVER A MOMENT THAT LASTS A LIFETIME. Aylmer Lake Lodge is located in Rocknest Bay, which is on the Barren......

Our professional tour guides will take you on amazing Aurora viewing tours, city tours, ice road tours and much more.......

Tundra North Travel is an Inuit company based in Inuvik, Northwest Territories that was established with the dream of being......

Your Dene Connection in Yellowknife. B. Dene Adventures is a Traditional Dene Culture Camp business which teaches the Dene way......

Best Northern Road Trip! Now you can drive all the way to the Arctic ocean linking Canada from coast to......

Offering four-hour Aurora tours including the ice road and City of Yellowknife. Pick-up and drop-off available. Small groups. Service in......

With over 30 years of living in Yellowknife, we offer a variety of tourism experiences for our guests. We are......

Book an adventure with us at Trail Blazer Tours for an unforgettable experience! Your adventure with us will create lasting......

100% Indigenous owned!  We are the world’s first Aurora Hunting tour company, we know Aurora. Learn about Aurora, why Yellowknife is the......

Join us on an Aurora hunting adventure. Our skilled tour guides know all the best places around Yellowknife to capture......

Arctic Tours Canada is a Yellowknife based tour operating company that offer Aurora Hunting and Viewing tours, Yellowknife sightseeing tours,......

We are a local Aboriginal tour company based in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Our focus is on......

“Like No Other Place On Earth” We are the only fly-in lodge located a 50 minute float plane flight from......

We offer winter clothing rentals. Our winter clothing will keep you warm and comfortable for your outdoor fun – ask us......

Northern and Remote Wilderness Adventures Ltd. (NARWAL) is a small, friendly, majority Aboriginal owned and operated family business. Our reputation......

Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge provides you access to known waters teeming with monster lake trout. Their current record is a......

Aurora Village – A Class of Its Own Aurora Village is a unique Aurora-viewing facility situated 25 minutes from downtown......

We operate a fully equipped luxury coach and offer City Tours, Aurora Tours and tours to the Nahanni National Park Reserve......

Come experience world-class Aurora Borealis viewing in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. We are the only guides in the Northwest Territories......

Raven Tours is a tour operator in Yellowknife, NT, Canada. We offer Aurora Viewing, Snowshoeing, and Hiking Tours. We hope to......

Our goal is to provide unique customized services for high-end customers. We excel at making personalized tours. You can see......

World class dogsled tours! We are one of the largest professional sled dog kennels in Canada. Over 150 happy, healthy......

Great Slave Lake Tours offers winter and summer trips on Great Slave Lake, the ninth biggest lake in the world......

Pehdzeh Ki First Nation is located in the community of Wrigley, Northwest Territories, Canada. We are a Designated Authority in......

Yellowknife Online produces Yellowknife specific articles and content for visitors, residents, and newcomers. Yellowknife Online has recently transferred that knowledge......

Aurora photography tours for groups of 25 or less, available in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Our tours offer specialized knowledge......

Join us on a subarctic adventure! Spend five nights viewing the Northern Lights, enjoying outdoor activities, and experiencing the culture......

We offer Yellowknife daytime and aurora viewing tours. Please contact us for more information! ...

Aurora viewing tours, city tours, and hikes at Cameron Falls. We book all your activities and  accommodation....