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Plus, 9 other great spots to catch the elusive Aurora borealis.

Whether or not you’re a “bucket-list kind of a person,” you probably still consider the northern lights a must-see experience. For those of us who dwell at lower latitudes, the aurora borealis is one of the most exciting and spectacular natural phenomena we can witness. Even those lucky enough to see the ghost lights regularly agree that the sight of those mad, silent, and mysterious electric lights dancing across the northern sky is special. It’s worth braving the harsh Arctic winters and short, dark days just to see them.

But hold on to your wool hats: The experience is about to get even more outstanding.

The aurora borealis may be worth the cold, but imagine spending the night out under the northern stars, protected by your own heated bubble. We’re not talking igloos here—starting in December, you can spend the night in a personal, snowmobile-pulled, transparent-roofed mobile hotel room for the coziest and most creative northern lights viewing experience imaginable. Off the Map Travel—a U.K.-based travel company that specializes in personalized, private northern lights experiences—is launching its “Aurora Bubble Sled” (pictured at top) as a new twist on an iconic experience.

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9 Places to See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that makes greenish-blue light streak across the night sky in the northern part of the world—and it's pretty freaking cool. Here's where to see it.
Collected by Danielle Walsh, AFAR Staff
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    Kopavogur, Iceland
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    First time: We took the Northern Lights tour out about an hour outside of Rekyjavik and they didn't show. Second time: Northern Lights tour canceled for the night because of visibility problems (cloudy day). Third time: We went an hour outside Reykjavik, patiently waited, and they magically appeared, waving in the night sky. Beautiful and amazing! Tip: Book your tour for your first day in Iceland so you have more chances to reschedule (they allow free re-booking if you don't get to see it).
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    Kiruna, Sweden
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    Around me was utter silence even though dozens of people were above and below me. Nearby towering mountains were coated in snow. Unnerving and eerie in one sense yet utterly humbling. The chairlift I was riding in had to be stopped for every single passenger to board so it pulled to a quick halt and left me suspended mid-air, sitting there for a minute or two taking in the massive ice-coated panorama that was Abisko. Riding up towards the sky station in the massive star-filled ink black night sky felt like an ascent into heaven. I was scared yet calm enveloped me. Finally at the top, we fought off a hoard of travelers crowding out space, their eyes arched towards the sky looking for the very same thing we were there for. But Peter knew where to go. Like a kid seeking out his favorite hiding spot, he took us behind one of Mount Nuolja’s slopes to one of the best spots for photographing Northern Lights in all of Sweden. And the lights were nothing short of spectacular. Vibrant green curtains that unraveled and unfolded across the crisp clear winter sky, swirling in every direction. We didn’t know where to turn. From 9pm until past midnight, the lights danced across the sky. After awhile, we stopped taking photographs overwhelmed by the shimmering lights which we couldn’t keep up with. We just stood in awe. - Peter Rosén runs 5-day Aurora and Sápmi courses with Nutti Sámi Siida which incorporates photographing parts of indigenous Sámi culture and reindeer sledding.
    By Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström, AFAR Local Expert
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    Tromsø, Norway
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    Situated upon the northern tip of Norway, Tromsø is an arctic gem well worth hopping on that 2 hour flight from Oslo. The city itself is reflective of its inhabitants; friendly, slow-paced and possessing a beauty so natural and fresh you have to look twice most times. As if aware of its allure, the still surrounding fjords pose as mirrors making the combination of charming Scandinavian architecture, low-drooping clouds and the Aurora Borealis (if you're lucky to be there at just the right time) a photographer's haven. A one hour drive west of the city is Sommarøy or Summer Island, a tiny coastal town home to just over 200 residents. It's known as Tromso's best kept secret (sorry for not keeping mum!) and if not for staying with a local family friend we probably would've missed this unique vista boasting of beguiling grass-roofed houses and mossy island blobs. If you make it out there, make sure you drive slowly to appreciate the rural splendours. My favourite: white silage bales sprinkled across green pastures like marshmallows. I've included the most descript article on Sommarøy I could find below, which goes through some seasonal highlights. It's been said that Norway has a different magic act depending on the time of year, so a winter visit is in line in hopes to finally catch those impulsive Northern Lights, skate on a lake, or if I'm really lucky, both at the same time.
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    Westfjords, Iceland
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    We got to the Langjokull Glacier by Super Jeep, reaching an elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level. Being the second largest glacier in Iceland, approximately 950 square kilometers with a volcano occupying over half of this area, you can imagine it’s a pretty impressive environment. You can take a snowmobile across the glacier, a must see (and particular favorite) are the subterranean ice cathedrals, sculpted by the Icelandic weather and unseen by many. Camping overnight is also an option; it’s remote but the best place to see the Northern Lights.
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    Kvalsund, Norway
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    Beautiful Auroras at Kvaløya outside Hammerfest, in Northern Norway!
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    Tromsø, Norway
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    If you are in Tromsø and want to see the Northern Lights outside the city, away from the light pollution, choose Arctic Guide Service. For about an hour, they drive towards dark places while they give information about Tromsø, explanations about Northern Lights and also the best way to prepare your camera for the show. They took us to three awesome spots: a beach, a frozen lake and a fjord. At the fjord we could even hear the whales and see their blow. Of course, they can't promise you the Auroras, but if they appear, just enjoy them because the guides also take pictures which are included in the price.
    By Rita Alves, AFAR Local Expert
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    Fairbanks, Alaska
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    I gave myself the challenge of photographing the Northern Lights. First, I had to go where I could see them. Taste of Alaska Lodge is set up nearly ideally for this. Rooms in the lodge have patio doors for exiting mid-night to check the sky, with chairs for comfort while viewing or waiting. It's easy to set up your camera & tripod in the warm comfort of your room and then take it outdoors when the lights appear. Included is a big breakfast, served a little later (9am) for sleeping in after the late-night light show.
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    Healy, Alaska
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    Located on the western edge of the Alaska Range, Winterlake Lodge is a fly-in-only retreat, so guests have open, empty trails to explore by snow-shoes, snowmobile, cross-country skis, or dogsled. This season, visitors can opt to journey eight miles to a rustic new cabin where they’ll be served dinner and spend the night. Those looking for a break from the cold can sign up for cooking classes or soak in the lodge’s hot tub and take in the northern lights. In early March, Winterlake offers front-row seats for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which passes right in front of the hotel. From $840. This appeared in the November/December 2014 issue.
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    Kakslauttanen, Finland
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    It's not everyday that one gets to lie down in a heated igloo and stare at the Northern Lights for hours. This experience might sound surreal but it is truly the tip of the proverbial iceberg in Finnish Lapland. We were excited when we booked our trip but we just couldn't believe our eyes when we finally got there. The entire landscape belongs in a fairy tale or a dream, nowhere else. Here snow-laden trees, reindeer, husky dogs, and picture-perfect cottages co-exist in harmony & every hour of the day can be spent being gobsmacked by nature's offerings. We spent our days tobogganing, enjoying endless reindeer sleighs rides, petting husky dogs, sleeping in igloos and watching the spectacular Northern Lights on a daily basis. When the time came, we just did not want to leave this wonderland. This corner of the world is truly special - it's perfect if you want to go plan an offbeat honeymoon, romantic holiday, or a memorable holiday packed with dozens of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
    By Savi and Vid, AFAR Local Expert

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Off the Map offers an overnight in the sled as part of its Lapland Aurora program, which introduces travelers to the wonders of northern Finland’s wilderness. The tailored trip is based in Kilpisjärvi, which sits right on the border of Sweden, Finland, and Norway, at 69 degrees north (borealis junkies will know that latitude as one of the most ideal for northern lights viewing), and can include other classic arctic activities such as a wild reindeer tour, ice fishing, and snowshoeing.

So how does that tiny pod stay warm? The sled-mounted bubble built for two is encased in see-through polycarbonate and lined with beanbags. A thermostat-controlled heating system means that not only will you stay warm, but you’ll stay at the exact temperature that you find most comfortable. And while you don’t have to commit to a full (and clearly romantic) overnight, why wouldn’t you? Overnight guests are provided with sleeping bags and traditional reindeer skins to ensure that they stay extra warm after their snowmobile driver departs for the night.

The Aurora Bubble Sled is available as part of the Lapland Aurora program from December through April. From $1,375 for four days and three nights.

>>Next: Dining by the Northern Lights in Churchill