The Northern Lights, also commonly known as aurora borealis, are beautiful waves of light that can be seen from multiple countries including Iceland, Russia, Sweden Finland, the U.S. state of Alaska, Norway, south Greenland, Canada, and parts of Ireland.
This natural phenomenon occurs when the sun’s electrically-charged particles enter the earth’s atmosphere. Once inside, they collide with hydrogen and helium that emit the light and dancing waves called the Northern Lights.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for the average person to predict when they will occur. However, there are certain weather forecast and predictability apps that claim they can predict when they’ll occur. Still, take these apps with a grain of salt because this phenomenon is mostly unpredictable even in the best circumstances.
Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Ireland
The best time to see the Northern Lights is between the hours of 9:00 pm and 1:00 am from September to March. However, Northern Light activity can occur all year long. That being said, the Northern Lights are most visible on extremely dark nights, which is why September through the very tail end of March and even early April tend to be the most popular.
How Long do the Northern Lights Last?
In regards to the time of year they take place, we already mentioned September through March, however, how long can you expect Northern Lights activity to last if you’re outside looking at them?
Like the Northern Lights themselves, the answer is unpredictable. Some Northern Light activity can last all night, whereas sometimes it may only be visible for 10 minutes. The best rule of thumb is if you see it, pull over and take a look because you never know how long they’re going to last.
Best Places to See the Northern Lights
There are several fantastic places in Ireland to witness the dancing Northern Lights. These include:
Boarding Donegal is the picturesque village of Mullaghmore. Not only has this area earned the reputation of being a surfer’s paradise, but it’s also become quite well known for offering up clear views of the Northern Lights.
Dunree Head on the Inishowen Peninsula is considered one of the top places to see the Northern Lights. The Peninsula as a whole has great views of the Northern Lights, but if you’re looking for the best, we recommend heading to Dunree Head.
The view of the Northern Lights you see in Fanad Head is simply unreal. With a 270-degree view to the north, this spot is ideal for viewing the Northern Lights in all of their glory.
This small island located off the northern shore is a bit more secluded and has limited light pollution, making it even easier to see the Northern Lights. If you don’t mind taking a ferry to go see them, we highly recommend going to Tory Island.
Kerry Dark Sky Park
This park is a certified dark sky park. This means that there is no light, making it one of the darkest and least light-polluted places in all of Ireland. This dark sky park provides the ultimate opportunity to be able to see the Northern Lights without any sort of light pollution blocking your view.
This area is in the northernmost point of County Mayo. This is a small peninsula that provides completely unobstructed views of the north. You can see the Northern Lights all the way to the Arctic Circle from here with no light pollution or anything else obstructing your crystal-clear view.
Tips for Viewing Ireland’s Northern Lights
If you plan on viewing the Northern Lights, be sure to stay away from any sort of artificial lighting such as a street lamp, as this will take away from your viewing experience. The best way to experience the beautiful Northern Lights is by watching them from a wide, open area that gives you endless views of the nighttime sky like the locations briefly mentioned above.
Make Seeing the Northern Lights Even More Spectacular with a Roof Tent
And speaking of the sky, there’s no better way to experience the great outdoors and everything this big, beautiful world has to offer than an overnight camping trip. The roof tents from Mako56 turn the traditional camping experience on its head, as our tents allow you to set up camp anywhere that’s convenient for you.
Visit our website to shop our current inventory to see what rooftop tent will serve you best as you track down one of the most beautiful natural phenomena our planet has to offer. We are Ireland’s first rooftop tent brand. Our tents are easy to set up and can be mounted onto any type of vehicle, whether car, truck, camper van, or SUV. With a rooftop tent, you will get the most magical view of the Northern Lights Ireland has to offer.