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Destination: a guide to Valhalla; when and where to see the northern lights in Bodø

The Northern Lights have inspired some of the most dramatic tales in Norwegian mythology. The Vikings celebrated these lights and believed them to be the earthly appearances of gods. Other Nordic cultures, however, held a sense of trepidation towards them. They wove tales of horror and developed superstitious rituals in hopes of safeguarding themselves.

Odin, the supreme deity and lord of Åsgard, commanded reverence and admiration from all Vikings. It was their belief that Odin chose warriors who met their end in battle upon Earth, guiding them to Valhalla. The Valkyries, mounted female warriors clad in armor with spears and shields, were tasked with ushering Odin's chosen warriors to Valhalla. The Vikings perceived the Northern Lights illuminating the sky as reflections of the Valkyries' armor as they traversed from the battlefield to Odin.

Northern Lights in Norway

In other Norse legends, the Northern Lights were believed to be the breath of brave soldiers who fell in combat. In yet other tales, they were seen as Bifrost, the bridge linking Asgard and Midgard, ferrying warriors to their final resting place in Valhall.

For the Sami people, the Northern Lights did not recount tales of heroism and bravery. Instead, they regarded it with a mixture of fear and respect. The sight of the Northern Lights signified something ominous. It was thought to be the souls of the departed, and it was taboo to speak of it. Interacting with the light by waving, whistling, or singing underneath it was deemed perilous, as it could become aware of your presence.

The belief held that the light might descend and carry you to the heavens, or worse yet, sever your head if it discovered you! Many Sami individuals still prefer to stay indoors when the Northern Lights grace the sky, just to be safe.

No matter your perspective, it remains a phenomenon that captivates the imagination, even mine. I spent around three years in the far south of Norway, residing in Kristiansand. I frequently checked my alert app, hoping for a chance to witness the Northern Lights. I succeeded once, following a massive solar flare eruption. However, it was a bit underwhelming. I had ventured to the darkest corner of the city in the dead of night, ascended a hill, and caught a fleeting glimpse of a tiny, curtain-like, white cloud for a mere four seconds. Now, living considerably farther north (near Oslo) in an area with minimal light pollution, I am treated to multiple occurrences of the Northern Lights each year. In fact, there are times when I stand in my kitchen and chance upon white-green curtains dancing above the valley through my window. Each time, I find myself in utter awe and I take tons of pictures.

If you happen to visit Norway between October and March, you stand the greatest chance of catching a glimpse of this extraordinary phenomenon. Yet, there are certainly no guarantees. Firstly, the (celestial) weather conditions must be favorable. A nocturnal sky with minimal cloud cover is desired. Ideally, a solar flare eruption directed towards Earth and potent enough to produce the Northern Lights.

Then comes a measure of luck. You might find yourself sound asleep, missing the spectacle entirely. That happened to me countless times, waking up the next morning to seeing the most amazing pictures other people took.

Nevertheless, you can increase your odds. Begin by selecting your destination. Trondheim, for instance, lies notably farther north than Oslo. Yet, the optimal choice would be Arctic Norway, locations situated on the latitude of Bodø and upwards. If you're truly dedicated, seek accommodations further removed from cities, boasting a clear northern view, and preferably featuring expansive windows. Let me provide you with the most amazing accomodations close to Bodø. yet far from city-lights in order to increase your chances:

Also, consider installing a Northern Lights app. You could even activate notifications alerting you to heightened solar activity and the subsequent chance of witnessing this luminous display. However, it bears repeating that there are no certainties. It's a bonus for those with good patience and karma if you will. Good luck!

**Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Bodø Airport (BOO). From there public transport really takes forever, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.


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