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The best places to see the Northern Lights in the UK – as 2024 is set to be the best time in over a decade to catch a glimpse

Travel lovers across the world are planning to pack up a suitcase and book flights, as scientists are predicting 2024 will be the best year in over a decade to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

It comes as the sun is set to reach it’s solar maximum between January and October, as part of it’s 11 year cycle – the period with the greatest solar activity and intense solar storms.

Dr Dibyendu Nandi, a physicist from the IISER Kolkata Center of Excellence in Space Sciences in India, explained that solar storms create ‘beautiful auroras so we can expect 2024 to be a good year for aurora hunters’.

The dazzling light displays are due to be more frequent and bright, which could mean that although it’s still very rare, some of us in the UK should have a better chance of seeing them.

Just two months ago in November, lucky sky watchers in places like Dorset, Northumberland and Suffolk got to feast their eyes on the bucket list sight – read on to find out the seven hotspots motoring experts at say you should take a road trip to in the UK this year, to see the Aurora Borealis.

The Northern Lights in this image from Suffolk from November 2023 were captured by Jackie Gillman-Dace

Tim Alcock, motoring expert, said: ‘The Northern Lights can only be described as one of the most beautiful sights to ever lay your eyes on.

‘While you can’t just look out of your window and hope the lights will appear, there are some locations in the UK and Ireland that have higher chances of them showing such as Wales, the Shetland Islands and Yorkshire.

‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience witnessing the Northern Lights so we highly recommend making the most of the darker nights to view the breathtaking display.’

Lake District, Cumbria

The Northern Lights have been spotted on multiple occaisions in the heart of the Lake District, especially when there are solar storms.

The experts advise that ‘clear skies over Cumbria will make it easier to spot the lights and witness a starry night’.

Grizedale Forest was also named ‘one of the best spots to get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis,’ as well as being great for stargazing.

A number of star gazing events take place in this area of forest between Windemere and Coinston lakes. 

A spectacular display of the Northern Lights seen over Derwentwater, near Keswick in the Lake District in November 2021

What is the solar cycle? 

The solar cycle is the cycle that the sun’s magnetic field goes through about every 11 years, before it completely flips and the sun’s north and south poles switch places. 

One way to track the solar cycle is by counting the number of sunspots.

The beginning of a solar cycle is a solar minimum, or when the Sun has the least sunspots. Over time, solar activity – and the number of sunspots – increases.

The middle of the solar cycle is the solar maximum, or when the Sun has the most sunspots.

As the cycle ends, it fades back to the solar minimum and then a new cycle begins.

The current solar cycle, numbered 25, started in 2019 and is expected to continue until about 2030, but the solar maximum is now expected in early 2024.  

Isle of Anglesey, Wales

Tim explained: ‘The largest island in Wales will likely host the Northern Lights over winter as they’ve been consistently on display over the last few years. 

They’ve also been spotted in other areas of North Wales, with Gwynedd, Conwy and Denbighshire being the places to watch.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is a hill and extinct volcano that’s located in Holyrood Park, that’s already popular among residents and tourists.

Locals caught a glimpse of the dazzling lights as recently as November last year.

The motoring expert advised: ‘It’s one of the most popular spots in Scotland for people to go hiking. 

‘Be prepared for a steep walk to the summit as it can take almost two hours to reach the peak. 

‘If you end up missing the Northern Lights , you’ll still get to witness a breathtaking view of Edinburgh’.

Shetland Islands, Scotland

Tim revealed that the next Scottish location that’s popular for seeing the Northern Lights is the Shetland Islands.

He explained: ‘The greenish, purple glow is likely to be spotted in the Shetland Islands. 

‘It’s one of the most likely places to spot them throughout the whole of winter, but make sure to visit when it’s a clear night sky’. 

Donegal, Ireland

If you’re in Ireland, or fancy travelling there, experts suggest visiting Donegal.

Dubbed as ‘one of the best places in Ireland to get a clear view of the Aurora Borealis,’ it’s definitely worth the trip.

Tim added: ‘The chances of spotting them are better when there’s no rain and the moon is shining brightly’.

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, glow on the horizon at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay on the North East coast. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2023

Whitley Bay, North Tyneside

Next on the list is Whitley Bay in North Tyneside, where the lights were spotted in October 2023 – particularly near St. Mary’s Lighthouse.

The expert advises that ‘they’ll likely make an appearance once again and will be easier to spot as the nights draw in earlier’.

Sandsend, Yorkshire 

Finally, the motoring experts reccomend a road trip to Sandsend in Yorkshire.

Tim explained: ‘Yorkshire was treated to the Northern Lights in early December with photos being taken from back gardens. 

‘The lack of street lights in Sandsend makes it easier to spot the colourful lights without them being covered by artificial lighting’.


The Northern and Southern Lights are natural light spectacles triggered in our atmosphere that are also known as the ‘Auroras’.

There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’

The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. 

There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’ The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

Usually the particles, sometimes referred to as a solar storm, are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

But during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.

These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are common.

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