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The midnight sun

Where the sun never sets
Like a prolonged sunset and sunrise all at once, this natural phenomena colours heaven and earth in a reddish yellow light. Welcome to “the land of the midnight sun”.
Lighthouse at Slettnes in the midnight sun
Slettnes, Nordkyn.
Photo: Christoffer Robin Jensen

It’s tempting to wonder about all the sights and experiences that have been made under the midnight sun through the ages – by people living off the sea in the Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelagos, or the Sami reindeer herders of the far north.

The phenomena has at least made a lasting impression on several Norwegian artists and writers. This excerpt is from Knut Hamsuns Pan (1894): “Night was coming on again; the sun just dipped into the sea and rose again, red, refreshed, as if it had been down to drink. I could feel more strangely on those nights than anyone would believe …”

Lofoten
Lofoten.
Photo: Jørn Allan Pedersen / Visitnorway.com

Travel to the areas above the Arctic Circle in Norway and live these moments yourself: Doing a whale safari or exploring the wilderness inland takes on a new dimension at night in the summer months, when you literally get to see the nature and wildlife in a different light.

If you’re not afraid of the sometimes chilly summer nights in the north, you could try a midnight swim – or pitch your tent in the wild and stay up with the sun. Many sights and activities are open at night during these weeks, so you can go midnight golfing, cycling, river paddling, or sea kayaking – or maybe just find a quiet spot to fish.

If you travel to the Arctic islands of Svalbard, the sun doesn’t set between April and late August. Here, you can do a midnight walk on a glacier or look at the reddish sky from a moving dogsled, experiencing the unique climate and nature near the North Pole.

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Where to find the midnight sun

76 days of midnight sun between May and July greets travellers to Northern Norway. The further north you go, the more nights of midnight sun you get.

During the summer months you can experience up to 24 hours of sunlight above the Arctic Circle, giving you more time to enjoy the sights and make new discoveries. When planning your midnight sun adventure, think of Northern Norway as divided into five main areas as you travel north:

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Area 3: Progressing further north you will reach Lofoten; an area of outstanding natural beauty characterized by rocky peaks and coastal flatlands where sheep graze on seaweed infused soil. The Vesterålen islands are an ideal place from which to experience the midnight sun, as the landscape is very varied and dramatic.

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Area 5: You are now entering Finnmark county. This area is contrasted with fjords and glaciers in the far southwest, and big islands such as Sørøya and Seiland on the northwestern coasts. Midnight sun chasers best advised to head for the dramatic North Cape.

3 tips for photographing the phenomenon

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Tip 2: Foreground images can be used to frame subjects in mid and deep field, creating a better sense of three-dimensionality.

Tip 3: To maximize the impact of the light sky on a landscape, compose your picture in the viewfinder by keeping the horizon a third of a way from the bottom; this will help your camera to expose properly.

Travellers’ own pictures

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Find summer activities

Many activities in Northern Norway are best enjoyed in the daylight. Fortunately, the summer days never end.

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