If the climate where you live is similar to where we have the Nature Travels office here in coastal Dorset, by April winter is a distant memory – everything’s in flower and summer seems just a heartbeat away. Surely “winter” means December and January, doesn’t it?
Up in the far north, it’s a very different story – the Sami, the indigenous people of the area, have eight seasons, and this period is the “spring winter”, the time when the best parts of winter and spring combine to give long hours of daylight and the promise of spring in the air, but still with winter very much in evidence.
The deep midwinter period of November-January certainly has its appeal – long hours or darkness and the magical blue quality to the light give any adventure at this time of year a special feel.
But April too has its own special attraction. If you are thinking about a mountain dogsled tour, hut to hut ski touring in the fjälls or an Alpine summit ski touring trip looking down on Norway’s fjords, April’s the time to go!
Yes, but will I see the Northern Lights?
For dates up to early April, there are still very good chances for Northern Lights in the far north. The nights are getting lighter rapidly by this time, so you will need to stay up later, but on the other hand, March and April can offer more stable weather and clearer skies than earlier in the winter. By the time it gets to the second week of April, the nights are becoming too light to see a display (though the Aurora can occur year-round, of course, just as the stars always shine, but it can’t be seen without darkness!).
But travelling to the far north is about very much more than having a chance to see the Northern Lights, as wonderful and spectacular as they may be – and if you travel to Svalbard, 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland, for our dogsled and winter camping tours there in April and May, you can experience a solar phenomenon at the other end of the spectrum – 24-hour daylight beneath the Midnight Sun!
So if you’re planning a winter adventure, give a thought to travelling later that you might have originally planned. Mid-November to March are also great times to visit the far north, but don’t forget April, waiting for you with its promise of spring in the air – the month for parking your dogsled or sticking your skis in the snow and stretching out on a rock at break-time to feel the warmth of the sun on your face!