One of the most remarkable features of Finland is light. When the endless sunshine of summer gives way to dark winter, the Northern Lights appear like magic and lighten up the sky.
The further north you go, the greater the chances of spotting the Aurora Borealis – in Finnish Lapland they can appear on 200 nights a year. In Helsinki and the south, the Aurorae can be seen on roughly 20 nights a winter, away from city lights.
Seeing the Northern Lights requires sufficient darkness and clear skies, which makes late autumn, the winter and early spring (September to March) the most favourable times. The best time of day is an hour or two before and after midnight. The display might last 20 seconds or go on for hours.
How do the Northern Lights come about? Sami legend says a Fox runs across the Arctic fells and lights up the sky with sparks flying from its tail, whirling up the snow. The modern Finnish term “revontulet”, the fox’s fires, derives from this myth.
A scientist’s explanation to the phenomenon would be something like “the solar wind sends charged particles towards the Earth, and upon colliding with its atmosphere they produce energy given off as light”. We prefer the Sami myth.
The white summer nights are perhaps Finland’s most iconic natural phenomena. The nighttime sun is at its strongest during the months of June and July but the further north you go, the longer and higher the sun stays above the horizon. In the very northernmost parts you can experience a full Midnight Sun from May to August.
Over two thirds of the world’s people who experience the Midnight Sun live in Finland. In the northernmost parts of Finnish Lapland, the sun stays above the horizon for over 70 consecutive days.
Although the full Midnight Sun only shines above the Arctic Circle, nights are white all over the country. Late at night, the sun briefly dips beyond the horizon before rising again, blurring the boundaries between fading night and dawning day.
Sauna forms a great part of our country’s heritage and culture. It is estimated that there are over two million saunas in Finland. For a population of 5.3 million, this equals to an average of one per household – there’s even one inside parliament.
There are many traditions and practices concerning the sauna experience, but the most important one for the Finns is to relax, purifying both body and mind.
Did you know the word “sauna” is Finnish? Whether an electric sauna in a modern business environment or an old-fashioned wood-burning sauna by a lakeside cottage, a sauna is always near you.
Clean lakes – lots of them!
Finland is often called the Land of a Thousand Lakes. A modest name, considering that there are, in fact, 188 000 lakes in the country. As many of these lakes are very large in size, a great part of Finland is covered in water – making Finland distinguishably different from other European countries.
From the metropolitan area around Helsinki all the way up to the great Lake Inari in Lapland, Finland is filled with oases of the clean blue. Where Inari is known for its deep and crystal clear waters, Lake Saimaa’s ringed seal, one of the most endangered species in the world, is the country’s largest lake’s most memorable attraction.
A lakeside cottage is an essential part of Finnish summer and most summer activities revolve around water, such as swimming and going to the sauna, fishing, canoeing, rowing and sailing.
(more in www.visitfinland.com)