THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
Let's cross the magical boundary!
The famous Arctic Circle marks the boundary for where you can experience the midnight sun and the Arctic winter in the north. But did you know that the circle isn't actually a physical line and that the magnetic north pole is moving? Find out where the circle lies and how to cross it, and learn some fun facts along the way!
A runaway line
“Most people don't know that the Arctic Circle is actually moving. Each year it shifts about 14 metres,” says Elias Andersson, head of the Arctic Circle Center. To be clear: the Arctic Circle as a line of latitude on the map remains in place, while it is the magnetic north pole that is moving.
In 1990, when the Arctic Circle Centre was built to welcome visitors at the Saltfjellet mountain range in Northern Norway, it was believed that the Arctic Circle ran straight through the middle of the building. But since it's constantly moving, its actual location is now further north.
“The magnetic pole will go all the way up to the Lofoten islands, before moving south again. It will take about 40,000 years before it's back in the middle of the visitor centre,” says Elias.
In other words, the magnetic north pole makes a long and slow journey across Norway. Its full route goes all the way from Brønnøysund in the southern part of Nordland county to Moskenes in the north – 267 kilometres in total!
The lights of Northern Norway
You can't actually physically see the Arctic Circle, since it's just a line on the map. But you can notice its movement in other ways.
Close to the Arctic Circle, a nature phenomenon occurs in winter. In Norwegian, it's called mørketid, the polar night. The polar night is when the sun is below the horizon 24 hours a day for a period of time during winter. In other words, it's almost completely dark around the clock. Luckily, the northern lights can appear during this period, giving the Arctic sky some fantastic colours.
In areas near the Arctic Circle, the opposite of the polar night happens in summer, when the wonderful midnight sun lights up the sky – a true reward for enduring the dark days of winter!
1, 2, 3 JUMP!
Do you want to cross the magical Arctic Circle?
Although the Arctic Circle is moving, there are still plenty of fun ways of making a symbolic crossing.
Like here, at the Arctic Circle Center. Jump across, or follow the marble path marking the circle that runs straight through the middle of the building!
Remember to pick up a postcard with a special Arctic Circle stamp – a fun way of letting everyone know you have crossed the circle!
When the train crosses the magical boundary, the conductor reads a message over the PA system.
You can also spot two stone pyramids marking the circle, one on each side of the tracks.
There are also several Globe-shaped monuments that mark the Arctic Circle, so keep an eye out!
Here's one on the small island of Vikingen, north of Tonnes in Helgeland.
The Norwegian coastal steamer, Hurtigruten puts on a show when it passes Vikingen island and the Arctic Circle.
Onboard, there are light-hearted ceremonies, including a "baptism" when the ship crosses the magic line.
The “baptism” is performed by none other than the sea god himself – King Neptune!
But beware, the ceremony is an ice-cold experience, and Neptune uses a bucket of freezing water.
Do you dare accept the challenge?
There is plenty to experience when travelling above the Arctic Circle.
Explore more below!
Experience the Arctic Circle in summer!
Get ready for magical days and nights.