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Discover Legendary Experiences
Churchill, Manitoba tops many bucket lists as an international wildlife viewing destination. While polar bears and beluga whale tours are incredible experiences in this unique northern town, a new season is drawing travellers from around the world. With its ideal spot under the auroral oval (a region centred on the Earth’s magnetic north pole), Churchill is one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights.
Adventurous travellers can catch the aurora borealis during peak viewing season this winter (February to March is the best time to go). During the late winter, the night sky in Churchill is at its clearest and darkest making it the perfect time to view this natural weather phenomenon. Gases present in the atmosphere cause the aurora to change colour resulting in the spectacular hues of green and purple. And it’s the collision of solar wind particles with these atmospheric gases that cause the light to flicker, infusing the night sky with dancing ribbons of colour.
You can witness this light show of a lifetime with a trip to Churchill, and you’ll quickly see why this northern town is a bucket-list adventure.
Unique Ways to View the Northern Lights
Chasing the northern lights in Churchill is all about unique vantage points, and there are many to choose from. The Churchill Northern Studies Centre, situated 23 kilometres outside of the town of Churchill, provides ideal conditions for viewing the night sky. When the northern lights come out, the lights in the centre shut off to prevent any light pollution. There are a few options for viewing the aurora borealis, from the heated dome at the top of the centre to the outdoor observation deck.
Frontiers North Adventures in Churchill offers a Northern Lights and Winter Nights Adventure that departs from Winnipeg. Northern lights viewing happens from their oh-so-cozy Thanadelthur Lounge, which is situated away from town on the other side of the frozen Churchill River, far from any light pollution. A Frontiers North itinerary also includes a visit to Dan’s Diner, a mobile Tundra Buggy dining hall hidden in the wilderness and under the northern lights, where you’ll enjoy a fine dining meal featuring regional and local fare.
Book your northern lights trip with Natural Habitat Adventures to Churchill and get exclusive access to the warm and comfortable Aurora Pod, specially designed for viewing the aurora borealis with 360-degree views of the sky via innovative glass construction and cushioned seats. A Natural Habitat trip will also bring you to the Churchill Hotel’s prized Aurora Domes, where you’ll spend the night relaxing in the lounge or heading up to one of two viewing domes to see the lights.
Best suited for the DIY traveller, Nanuk Operations in Churchill offers Nights Under Lights, a guided photography outing for the chance to shoot the aurora with the backdrop of a yurt tucked deep in the boreal forest. All guests get a clear view of the lights from the yurt’s large, wrap-around deck and can head indoors to warm up near the fire with a nightcap in hand.
For the budget conscious and truly adventurous, add your name to Discover Churchill’s call list. If the lights are out before midnight, they call you and pick you up from where you’re staying for a two-to-four-hour tour with expert photographer Alex DeVries, who takes you to some of his favourite aurora viewing locations.
Beyond Boreal Expeditions is a female-owned Indigenous tour company that takes guests around Churchill on night-only excursions to photograph the lights from owner Tiffany Spence’s favourite locations.
You hear Wapusk Adventures long before you see it thanks to the dozens of sled dogs who make their home at this cozy retreat nestled in the forests near Churchill. Visit with these boisterous canines and take in the lights outside, while warming up inside a fire-warmed tipi. During the day take part in a guided dogsledding adventure. Learn about the importance of dogsledding to Indigenous Peoples of the north before settling into the sled for a wild ride through the boreal forest led by dogs that just love to run.
Where Else Can You See The Northern Lights?
Riding Mountain National Park is known for regular aurora activity in the depths of winter. Book a stay at a hotel in Wasagaming, Elkhorn Resort or a winterized Parks Canada oTENTik and watch the night sky light up. Outside of Flin Flon, book a stay at Bakers Narrows Lodge where the northern lights are highly visible. Book an ice fishing package for a multi-night stay and hook a catch while taking advantage of the north’s wide open skies.
It is possible to see the northern lights as far south as Winnipeg when the conditions are just right. Download an aurora forecasting app and keep an eye out for clear nights with a high chance of discovery. It’s recommended that you head outside the perimeter to locations such as Birds Hill Provincial Park to ensure the lights of the city don’t impact your view.
With so many ways to view the northern lights in Manitoba, we recommend planning a multi-day trip to ensure you don’t miss out. Visit travelmanitoba.com to find more trip inspiration, itinerary ideas and planning tools.
One thousand kilometres north of Winnipeg is a place that feels like another world. At first glance, Churchill is a northern town like any other. But take another look and you’ll see Churchill is a one-of-a-kind Manitoba destination. Lying along the migration path of polar bears and beluga whales, Churchill draws wildlife enthusiasts from all over the globe.