Chasing the Midnight Sun

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Orange midnight sun

The midnight sun. A stunning and spellbinding event that many people don’t know happens every year in the far north. The amazing phenomenon is truly unique and there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. If you are wondering what the midnight sun is and where you can witness it, read on to find out more.

What is the midnight sun?

Many people are aware that, during the winter months, there are periods of complete darkness in the Arctic Circle where the sun only appears for a few hours a day and in some places doesn’t rise over the horizon at all. However, what many people don’t realise is there is a polar opposite to this called the midnight sun.

Between May and July, for 76 days, the sun barely drops below the horizon and so, never really sets! At least once a year in the far north, it won’t set at all and merely skate along the horizon at midnight before rising once more (this usually happens around the Summer Solstice). Not only does this mean a period of longer days for many residents, but it means longer sunrises and sunsets causing incredible skies filled with colour.

Yellow midnight sun

Where to find the midnight sun

The midnight sun is a phenomenon that affects all territories within the Arctic Circle, and, due to refraction, can also travel further south. Just with those hunting the Northern Lights, you’ll be best placed to experience this the further north you travel. Below you can see the full list of countries and territories that experience the midnight sun in some capacity.

Countries that experience the midnight sun:

  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Russia
  • USA (Alaska)
  • Canada
  • Greenland
  • Iceland

When it comes to travelling to find the midnight sun, making sure you are travelling between the months of May and July is essential. The summer solstice (usually around the 21st of June in the Northern Hemisphere) is when the sun is at its highest and less likely to drop below the horizon. Equally, the more north you go the more days have the potential to experience 24-hour sunlight.

Midnight sun in mountains

Midnight sun tips

Wrap up warm

For those who are on a cruise ship during the midnight sun, we recommended wrapping up and finding a warm spot on the deck to experience it, perhaps with a hot drink in hand. Although the sun won’t be setting completely, you have to remember it’ll still be nighttime, and the temperature will drop whilst you look on. Depending on your suite, you might be able to experience the phenomenon from your balcony.

Think about sleep

Our natural body clocks can be really shaken by the lack of darkness the midnight sun causes and so, you should be sure to think about sleep when you set off. This means making sure you can get the darkness you need, maybe with an eye mask, so any light that might creep into your cabin is blocked out. Equally, remember that during the day you won’t have the sunrise to wake you up or sunset to mark the end of the day.

Photography tips

When experiencing such a beautiful and majestic event, taking photographic memories is a must and will allow you to capture a snapshot of that moment in time to cherish forever. If you want to get the best shot possible, read our tips below.

Tips for photographing the midnight sun:

  • Contrast the colours of the sky with an object in the foreground, this could be a sculpture you’ve found or a natural attraction like a fjord or mountain range. Shoot from a lower point to capture the glow around objects in the foreground.
  • Try and keep your images simple so that the colouring is the emphasis in the final outcome, focus mainly on the sky and the horizon as opposed to cluttering your frame.
  • For landscape shots, keep the horizon a third of the way up from the bottom of the frame, helping your camera to expose properly.
  • The low sun causes elongated shadows and by turning your back to the sun, you might find some unique shadows to photograph too.
  • Equally, due to the dimness of the sun, front lighting is soft and flattering so this is a great time for portraits as your subject can look towards the sun without squinting and receive the orange glow.

So, whether you go on a Norway cruise or are going more far-flung on a Canada cruise holiday, with the right timing you could experience the amazing midnight sun. A spectacular phenomenon, it’s something we believe everyone should experience once in their lifetimes.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.