Foto: Jessica Nildén

Polar night in Kiruna

The polar night in Kiruna is a time of darkness. Depressing and not a speck of light as far as the eye can see. That may be something you have heard at some point. But is that really the whole truth?

During summer we can enjoy the warm rays of the sun around the clock for about 50 days. From the midnight sun to the polar night, the day length decreases by several minutes each day, but the period after the midnight sun is still so bright at night so you don’t really notice the days getting shorter. Then comes August, and you get that feeling. The same feeling you get every year and yet you are never prepared for. It is difficult to describe, but when you realize that the sun goes down and the darkness falls at night – it is a special feeling. You begin to look forward to autumn, the cold, to light candles and just snuggle under a blanket. You are happy. Then October arrives and you start getting stressed over the lack of vitamin D and rush to the nearest pharmacy to stock up.

This period leading up to the polar night is still very beautiful. The sunset, with associated beautiful sky colors, arrives earlier and earlier until you experience it in the middle of the day and with the blink of an eye the polar night has arrived. The sun no longer rise above the horizon and Kiruna plunges into pitch black darkness 24 hours a day – or does it?

Polarnatt i Kiruna, vackra färger

A beautiful redness on the horizon, photo: Jessica Nildén

Although the sun does not rise above the horizon, it does not mean that we live in complete darkness until January. It can instead be described as a certain twilight that can be seen for a couple of hours during the days of December. We have the white snow and the moon’s light that illuminates our existence and we also get more hours to see the beautiful northern lights. The colours in the sky can be strong and colourful during this period. Looking north, you see a cold blue light while you see a warming redness on the horizon as you look south. At 14 o’clock, the so-called “blue hour” occurs, which really only lasts about 15 minutes. The snow-covered landscape and the sky are surrounded by a magical blue light, a natural phenomenon that only occurs in the Arctic and cannot be experienced anywhere else.

Polarnatt i Kiruna

The landscape bathes in a magical blue light. Image taken at 13.40. Photo: Jessica Nildén

In Kiruna, the polar night lasts for about 28 days and in the beginning of January we see the sun again. Then the days only keep getting brighter and brighter until we once again enjoy the midnight sun as Mother Nature and the universe compensate us for the darker times with almost twice as long sunlight around the clock. And so, the Arctic annual cycle continues year after year.

3 tips for activities during the polar night
Photography – all the beautiful colours make this period a pure dream for photographers. But you need to be quick, the colours change fast. Maybe you want to join a professional guide who will show you everything you need to know in order to bring home beautiful memories.

The Northern Lights – more darkness means more hours to experience both Northern Lights and starry skies, on really clear nights you can even see the Milky Way! Join a Northern Lights hunt or relax in the outdoors hot tub while watching the sky.

Adventure – no sun makes no difference. Head out into the ski tracks, sit on the dog sled, rush forward with the snowmobile or experience the winter wonderland from horseback. No activities are impossible during this period, besides sunbathing.

Keep in mind
• Reflectors are your best friend. It is important to be seen!
• Head lamp is invaluable when going out into the dark so you can see where you put your feet.
• Be out while it is bright – the short time it is brighter outside you should also be out and about.
• Vitamin D in tablet form helps us when the sun is not available.
• Enjoy this period. Bask in all the colors and really see your surroundings. It’s magical times.
• If you are going to sit out and look for the Northern Lights or just count the stars in the sky then it may be nice to have something to sit on.