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Experience Longyearbyen colored in blue

Experience Longyearbyen colored in blue

10 things to do during the magical blue hour

10 things to do during the magical blue hour

The Northern Lights Winter in Svalbard lasts from October until March. A part of this period is called the Polar Night, stretching from 14th November until 30th January. As the name suggests, this is the darkest time of the year in Svalbard, being a period without any noticeable differences between day and night.
During the weeks before and after the Polar Night we experience the phenomenon of twilight. During these weeks the sun is positioned below the horizon so that the blue particles of light are bent by the atmosphere, resulting in the Arctic landscape being coloured in blue. The blue colour is often mixed with nuances of red and purple, leaving little to the imagination as to why us locals feel like we’re living in a dream.
The period is also known as the blue hour, the dusk time, or “tussmørket” as some locals call it in Norwegian. Whatever the name, the period is connected to something magical. People from all over the world are drawn to Svalbard to experience this special period of transition between the light and the darkness.

Here are 10 “must do’s” in Longyearbyen during this magical period!

Jan Nordvålen

Capture a snapshot of the Arctic light

The twilight season is the favourite time of year for photographers in Svalbard. In addition to the blue light in the daytime, there are chances to catch a glimpse, and even a picture or two, of the elusive northern lights. For the best tips on where to find the optimal conditions for photography, it’s possible to join a photo-tour with a local guide. Not surprisingly, there are a number of skilled photographers around that can offer you good tips and tricks.

Blue tones at the world’s northernmost blues festival

Dark Season Blues is held every year in the end of October. The festival blends in perfectly with the tail-end of the twilight season by adding it’s blue sounds. “The blues” (as locals call it) gathers international, Norwegian, and local artists in Longyearbyen, making this a weekend long festival known for its intimate setting and musical quality.

Jarle Røssland

Light your way through the tunnels of Mine 3

A visit in Mine 3 is an exciting activity no matter the time of year. For a tour in the mine you’ll be given authentic mineworker’s clothing, a headlamp, and a helmet. All the equipment was left behind when the mine was closed down in 1996 as it could not be used in the new mines. As such, you’ll be able to experience the mine as if it was still in full operation.

Cruise the blue fjords

Experience the contrast between the magical blue light above and the deep blue nuances of the sea below. It doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of Svalbard’s unique wildlife? Or what about visiting the ghost town of Pyramiden in twilight? A fascinating experience, without a doubt.

Jan Nordvålen

Get the best view of town

Join a hiking tour to one of the mountains close to town, and experience Longyearbyen from a top down perspective in the blue light. With the twilight as a backdrop the mountain tops stands out in the light, making them seem even mightier than normal. The hike to Platåfjellet is a popular half day hike and not too much of a challenge for the average person. At the top you’ll be rewarded with a view of Longyearbyen, and the vast Isfjorden to the west.

Eat your way through Smak Svalbard

For foodies, the festival Smak Svalbard is a unique opportunity to experience something new and distinct in the world of food. The traditions of trapping go far back in Svalbard, and each meal on your plate tells a new story. Svalbard rock ptarmigan, cod from Isfjorden, and seal are some of the delicacies the restaurants in town can offer during this weekend long festival. Cooking classes, “pop up dinners”, street parties and lectures all add up towards making this festival a highlight of the year for travellers and locals alike.

Jan Nordvålen

Go while dog sledding and connect with the surroundings

Dog sledding is a year round activity, but dog sledding in the polar twilight is something of it’s own. With the blue lights in the background you’ll spot the wagging tails in front of the sled without having to use a headlamp. As the dogs starts running their barking gradually fades away, leaving only the sound of the sled gliding across the snow.

Create your memories at Arctic Workshop

With the darkness settling over the city it can also be cosy to enjoy life indoors. A visit at Arctic Workshop is a social and creative activity where you can make your own Arctic souvenirs. Reindeer hides, driftwood, antlers and empty bullet casings from Svalbard are some of the ingredients you can use to create your own unique memories to bring back home.

Jan Nordvålen

Enjoy the charming loft at Basecamp Hotel

Whatever time of the year, it’s always wonderful to sit indoors and enjoy a good book. If you spend the night at Basecamp Hotel you can do just that without necessarily having to miss the magical light. The hotel has a reading corner in the attic covered with a glass roof, where you can look straight up on the beautiful Arctic sky.

Basecamp Explorer Spitsbergen

Cruise into the blue with snowmobiles

February is a fantastic time to cruise through the snow covered landscapes basked in twilight, invoking the feeling of driving through a picturesque postcard. With luck, there’ll also be enough snow in the twilight season of October. Remember to join an organised tour with a local guide – they ensure the tour is both safe and unique.

Jan Hvizdal

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