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Kaamos - the arctic night

Kaamos means darkness and polar night is a time of darkness. Depressing and not a speck of light as far as the eye can see. 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?

Foto: Jessica Nildén

The blue hour

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.

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.

Keep in mind

During the darker times of the year, reflectors are your best friend. It is important to be seen. It is also important that you see where you put your feet so a headlamp is invaluable when heading outside of town. Relying on the light from the mobile phone is not desirable as the mobile can be discharged very quickly in the cold. Take the opportunity to be outside during the few hours it is reasonably bright outside. Enjoy this period. Take in all the colours and really appreciate your surroundings. These are magical times. If you are going to sit out and look for the northern lights or just count the stars in the sky, it can be nice to have something to sit on. And hot chocolate or coffee to drink!

Foto: Jessica Nildén
Experience polar night

3 tips for activities

• 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...

Guided winter activities