Northern Lights: When and where to see them?

Did you know that you can see the Northern Lights anywhere from 1 to 3 nights a month at low latitude, like in the cities of Montreal and Quebec?

Get notified of Northern Lights alerts via space weather websites like the Canadian Space Agency and its all-new AuroraMax, which allows you to follow the Northern Lights live on the internet.

Will you be lucky enough to see them on your next canadian road trip? We surely wish so!

Where to watch the Northern Lights?

northern lights canada when can you see it
Where to see the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are observed throughout Canada and Alaska, in both the high latitude regions and the mid and low latitude regions, although they are more visible the higher you get!

These high latitudes include places like northern Alaska or Nunavik if you are on a Quebec road trip. These places located between 64 degrees to 87 degrees north latitude have aurora borealis appearances almost daily.

Lower latitudes like Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa will need good solar flares to enjoy a boreal show. Statistically speaking, we can observe the Northern Lights for 1 to 3 nights per month in low latitude regions.

Viewing Tip: The constellation Ursa Major will be your landmark, as it is located well to the north.

When to observe the Northen Lights?

northern lights canada forecast
When to look out for Northern Lights

In general, the Northern Lights are very active shortly before midnight. But we can observe them between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Observation statistics confirm September-October and February-March as the most auspicious months.

There is also a cycle. Every 11 years, we can observe the Northern Lights more vivid and more frequent. 2024 is set to be the next year when we can see even more Northern Lights.


The 3 enemies of the Northern Lights

 northern lights quebec
The 3 enemies of Northern Lights

1. Light pollution: To optimize your observation, stay away from urban centers to avoid light pollution. A country road or a park will do the trick.

2. The Full Moon: If you want to see the maximal colours of the Northern Lights, avoid full moon periods. This acts like a big white bulb.

3. Clouds: A cloudy sky will completely negate your Northern Lights trip, since everything will be hidden.


Legends and beliefs about the Northern Lights

What causes Northern Lights
Legends and beliefs about Northern Lights

The Northern Lights have caught the imagination of humans throughout the ages. In Nordic countries, folklore abounds in beliefs and legends on this subject.

The dawns are associated with death, fertility, luck or misfortune depending on the people.

The Inuit shamans of Canada claimed to go on a spiritual journey into the aurora for advice on treating the sick.

An Algonquin myth says that when the creator of the Earth had finished his work, he traveled up north, where he lived. He would light big bonfires to let people know he's not forgetting about them. The auroras would be the reflections of these fires.

The Eskimos living on the southern part of the Yukon River saw at dawn the dancing spirits of certain animals, especially salmon, reindeer, seals and beluga whales.


That's all you need to know about observing the Nothern Lights

Have you ever had the chance to observe these true gifts of nature? If so, where was it?

Feel free to let us know in the comments box below.

Karolane Lessard

An enthusiast of both our vibrant cities & great oudoors, my life revolves around travel & adventure. It's a no brainer that I have to share the wonders & secrets of my neck of the woods with other travelling souls. Enjoy the journey!


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Anna Collins August 17, 2022, 21h39
I'm glad that you informed us that the Northern Lights are usually active shortly around midnight, but you can observe them between 10 pm and 3 am with September-October and February-March as the most auspicious months. I finally got my vacation leave approved for next month, and I was thinking of going to Canada for a short relaxation trip. I'll have to check if there are any aurora viewing tours that coincide with my stay there.
Karolane Lessard August 18, 2022, 14h02
Thank you for your additional information Anna!
Have an awesome trip in the North!
Brenda April 3, 2022, 07h01
Hello where can we go watch an Aurora borealis near Montréal?
Where and how exactly ?