The Aurora Borealis is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The beautiful light display is a result of charged particles from the sun reacting with gaseous particles of our atmosphere. This natural event is also known as Northern Lights in countries from the northern hemisphere and Southern Lights for countries in the southern hemisphere.
Of all the events listed on the Travel Event Calendar, witnessing the Aurora Borealis is probably the hardest to plan for. This is because certain mother nature conditions need to line up. The main prerequisite is a clear dark sky. Therefore to maximise your chances of seeing the lights, you should time your hunt when it is new moon. New moon phase occurs because the sun's shadow covers up the majority of the moon. Another condition required is for the sky to have no clouds. Clouds block off the Aurora Borealis from being seen.
Where To See The Northern Lights
The best countries to see the Northern Lights are those closest to the Arctic circle. These countries include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia and finally Iceland. The further up north of the mentioned countries the better as you will be closer to the Arctic Circle. The Earth's magnetic fields are the strongest at the poles, of the Arctic and Antarctica Circle. Here is a live website which tracks the Aurora Borealis.
Here is my rule of thumb for viewing the lights in Norway. You want to be at Tromso or anywhere north of the latitude which Tromso is on. By the way Tromso sits on the latitude of 70. Tromso is a popular destination for viewing the lights as it is easy to reach by plane. Geographically speaking the best spot in Norway would be Svalbard Island. Svalbard is approximately 1000km north of mainland Norway.
The go to place is Abisko. The village is known for having the highest amount of clear skies in Europe. Something which comes in handy to spot the Northern Lights.
You can't get anywhere better than Lapland. Lapland is northern most region in Finland. The two ideal villages are Nellim and Menesjärvi.
To go hunting for the lights you can choose to hire a car to get you out of the city. You would need to do your own research and create your own itinerary about great places that are ideal for seeing the lights. The easier alternative is joining a tour because the tour operator has experience in knowing where the hot spots are for seeing the Aurora Borealis.
Closest International Airport: Not applicable as the lights can be seen in various countries.
Señor Ben's Tips
1) Make sure you are wearing enough warm clothes to stay out longer in the cold outdoors. Cover all areas of skin from the cold winds.
2) Pack a DSLR camera as digital cameras are unable to capture the lights.
3) Bring a tripod as it is uncomfortable to hold a DSLR at the upward trajectory for long periods of time.
4) Get as far away from the city as light pollution reduces your chances of seeing the lights.