By Dan Browne on 05 December 2012

Northern Lights3001NASA predicts that 2013 will be the best time in the next 50 years to see the Northern Lights, so we’re taking a look at three very different holidays where you can experience the spectacular night skies of the Aurora Borealis.

Hot and Steamy...
Get steamy in the hot springs in Alaska – you’ll have a spectacular view of the night sky from the steamy waters of the natural hot springs at Chena on an Alaskan tour. Chena is one of the best places to view the Northern Lights – where you can rent a heated cabin.  There’s also dog mushing lessons along with ski rental and snowmobile tours… or if you’re feeling less active, try ice carving classes at the ice museum – where you can sip appletinis from a carved ice martini glass while you marvel at your surroundings.

City Lights
What about a city break? Take a trip to Olso in Norway where you can follow the Art Trail as it was the home of Edvard Munch, famous for his painting 'The Scream'. Then get into the festive spirit and visit Oslo’s Christmas fair or head to visit the Christmas market around "Blå" at Grünerløkka, where you can find handicrafts, knitted goodies, jewellery, ceramics, glass and toys. To top off your Christmassy day, spend an evening at the ballet – the Norwegian National Ballet stages a production of The Nutcracker every Christmas.

From Oslo, head north to the city of Tromso – where you can watch hump back whales on a boat trip and of course, take one of the many organised excursions to view the Northern Lights – take your pick from dog sledding tours, snowmobiling tours, and tours where you can combine your trip with a night in a log cabin, moose watching or ice fishing. If you’re travelling between 25/01/2013 - 02/02/2013, you’ll also catch the Northern Lights festival in Tromso – an eclectic mix of Classical, rock and traditional folk music.

Family Fun
For a festive break with the family, take a trip to Finnish or Swedish Lapland – where you can rent a cabin complete with all the equipment you’ll need to try your hand at snow shoeing and cross country ski – pretty much essential if you want to get around! With wildlife including the local reindeer on your doorstep, the kids will love spotting the arctic critters – and to top it off, a trip to see Santa himself is a must-do. For adults, what about a bond-style snowmobile trip to the world famous ICEHOTEL near the Abisko national park in Sweden (filming location for Bond’s "Die Another Day") where you can stay in either warm or cold accommodation, relax at the ice bar and catch the Aurora Boralis in style.

Science bit: The sun emits massive solar flares which eject particles out into space. When these particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere, they glow with heat – giving us the Northern and Southern Lights (Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis). Solar flares run in 11 year peaks, and this year, they’re at a rare extreme peak, leading to even more spectacular night time displays.

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