The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is one of nature’s magnificent wonders that showcases an array of colorful lights that will leave you breathless. Manitoba is known for boasting some of the best views of the Northern Lights. Conditions have to be right, but if the stars align and you’re in the right place at the right time, you’ll get to experience what most would consider a once in a lifetime opportunity. If experiencing the alluring Northern Lights leaves you wanting more, you can always look at homes for sale in Winnipeg or any of these other cities so you can see the lights more often!
What Are The Northern Lights?
Whether it be from stories, movies, poems, and even Inuit mythology, the Northern Lights have caught the attention and intrigue of people for thousands of years. We still don’t know all the aspects of the aurora borealis, but over the years we’ve come to understand them more and how they’re formed.
Essentially, they’re created from geomagnetic storms causing solar wind from the sun to move towards earth. Thankfully, the earth protects itself with a magnetic field, which then causes atoms and molecules to collide in the atmosphere and form protons. These light formations can be anywhere from 50-400 miles above the earth’s surface. When the protons light up and if the conditions are right, they can be seen in the sky in an area called the Auroral Oval. This phenomenon actually happens around both the north and south poles. Aurora australis occurs near the south pole, while aurora borealis is seen near the north pole like where Manitoba is.
When Is The Best Time To See The Northern Lights?
Technically the northern lights can be viewed just about anytime of year, but there are times when the conditions are more ideal, making the aurora light shows more vibrant. The best months to see the northern lights are from February to March when the atmosphere is colder. Other factors that aid in us being able to see the lights from earth are:
- Being in a high KP index or in the Auroral Oval
- Skies are clear
- No extra light from the moon or other sources, like from the city
- More solar storms and activity on the sun
Where Are The Best Places To See The Northern Lights In Manitoba?
Winnipeg is located in southeast Manitoba. Despite being the capital of Manitoba with a population of around 700,000 people, Winnipeg is still one of the best places to see the northern lights in Maniota. Technically, you’re going to want to head to the outskirts of Winnipeg so the conditions are ripe for seeing a northern lights show.
Frontiers North Adventures makes viewing easy and extra enjoyable at their relaxing Thanadelthur Lounge, located on the other side of the Churchill River and away from city lights. Guests can sit back and enjoy views from their wall-to-ceiling windows or head up to their observation deck and have a 360° view of the show.
Known as the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill is also a widely known place for viewing the northern lights. Churchill is located along the Hudson Bay and the northern border of Manitoba. Just like Winnipeg, you’ll want to head outside of town for the best viewing opportunities.
The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is open to the public and provides a unique and in-depth way of viewing the northern lights. When conditions are right, the centre shuts off all its lights so the aurora borealis can shine bright. Viewers can watch outside on the observation deck, or stay warm inside the heated dome at the top of the facility.
Another way to view the northern lights in Churchill is to stay at the Churchill Hotel and view the lights from their Aurora Domes. You can see the lights from their Aurora Domes or relax in their lounge.
Located on the western border of the province, Flin Flon is an old mining city split between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Head just south of the Flin Flon to Bakers Narrows Provincial Park to camp and spend some time up in the 360° viewing tower. Here you can look out over North Arm Lake and, of course, the northern lights.
Located in western Manitoba and hugging the Saskatchewan River, The Pas is a small community with a population of about 5,600 people. If you don’t have a lot of time take a scenic drive southwest of town, near the farm lands for a simple night out. If you’d like a short getaway close by, head up to Clearwater Lake Provincial Park to camp. Stand along the water’s edge for a wide-open view of the aurora borealis.
Top Places To See The Northern Lights In Manitoba
Manitoba is situated within the Aurora Oval so though there are only a few locations listed, the opportunity to view the northern lights spectacle is nearly everywhere! Grab your jacket, a few blankets, some hot chocolate, and some comfortable hiking shoes and head to wide open spaces or get above the trees and enjoy the show!
There a number of locations across Canada where you can see the Northern Lights. When you’re done exploring Manitoba, head on to the best places to see the Northern Lights in Ontario.