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Northern Lights in Scotland?

I looked to see if these questions had been answered recently and didn't find any related discussion. Apologies if I missed it!

My family - myself, husband and two adult sons - are looking at spending Christmas in Scotland at the end of this year. We would arrive mid-December and leave before the new year. One of the reasons for this trip is to try to see the Northern Lights (although we understand there are absolutely no guarantees that we will!). We have done no planning so far so I have many questions: Is this an optimum time to see the Lights in Scotland (seems so from what I've read online so far)? What would be the best place to stay in northern Scotland to see the Lights (we'll probably devote a week to this effort)? Has anyone seen the Lights while visiting Scotland? If so, what time of year did you go and where did you stay? Any other advice generally on visiting Scotland during December? (I've been to Scotland twice previously, both times during October...). Thanks in advance for any guidance anyone can provide!

Posted by
1657 posts

The Northern Lights (of Aberdeen) are more likely to be seen in the north of the country. VisitScotland says the best time is January, though cold clear winter nights are as good.

Unfortunately the weather, like the lights, cannot be guaranteed. Weather related issues will effect any visit that time of the year and much of the tourist industry will be shut.

Is there anything particularly you are interested in? Christmas Day virtually everything closes, with similar on New Years Day. However there is always Panto.

Posted by
22 posts

MC: Thanks for the info! Can you tell me a bit about Panto? Is it during January? We will be back in the USA by then... And what do you think of seeing Edinburgh and a few other places in Scotland in December?

Posted by
1657 posts

Panto is short for pantomime, and if you are anywhere in Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales in December you will be able to see one. It is a winter tradition, built on over the top ham acting, really corny jokes, song and dance numbers.TV Tropes description is a good place to start.

Depending on where you would be there will be a number of local pantos on in December and January, and the best way of understanding them is probably watching them.

Because of Hogmanay, more places in Edinburgh will be open during that season then elsewhere, and the main museums and galleries will be open. However it does get dark very early.

Posted by
5678 posts

I think that we have touched on it, but it has been a while. Wild About Scotland has some tips for seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland. The BBC chimes in with more suggestions. The self-caterers even have tips and viewing lounges! And here is the forecast site! And the Hostelers give a more international perspective on the subject. :)

I know that there were not these many sites the last time I looked so this topic must have heated up in the past year or so.

Posted by
11 posts

There is an app for that :) Check out AuroraWatch UK. Helps with near-term planning but you can set alerts.