Best Time To See the Vancouver Northern Lights

What are the northern lights?

If you’re ever lucky enough to witness the northern lights, also called the aurora borealis, count yourself among one of the fortunate few throughout history. The amazing light show consists of bright colors such as greens, pinks, purples and yellows that dance across the night sky.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to witness the northern lights, although many people dream of seeing them. The Aurora Borealis is one of the most serene and beautiful natural phenomena you’ll ever witness.

To experience the beauty of the Northern Lights in Vancouver, British Columbia, plan a visit between December and March.

The light pollution from Vancouver can make it hard to see the Northern Lights downtown, but you’ll have a better view if you go just outside the city.

Can you see the norther lights in Vancouver?

What is the cause of this natural wonder?

The sun emits particles that fly toward Earth at incredible speeds of 45 million mph. However, we are protected by the Earth’s magnetic field, which instead funnels the particles toward the poles. This is what creates auroras- and we are all fascinated by them.

The first person to ever call the northern lights “aurora borealis” was Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer in 1619. Aurora was the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology, and Boreas was the god of the north wind in Greek mythology.

This name alludes to the stunning lights, which were depicted much earlier in history through various artworks – one example being a cave painting in France that’s approximately 30,000 years old!

Other cultures have also included references to the lights in their tales, myths and legends.

Committing to following the Lights

Many Aurora Borealis enthusiasts have several apps downloaded on their phones, as the apps tend to give conflicting predictions.

If you’re interested in seeing the Aurora Borealis, keep an eye on the news for reports of especially good conditions.

If you’re in Vancouver, you can join the UBC Astronomy Club. There are other astronomy groups and meetups as well where many members follow Aurora Borealis news intensely.

The best places to see lights in Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

To see the best Northern lights, you should travel outside of city limits to places with darker skies. A popular destination for this is Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

If you’re looking to get away from the city for a bit, Sakinaw Lake is less than an hour’s drive away and makes for a great overnight trip. You can even spend some time at the beach the next day if you want! If you’re willing to travel further out, about three hours from the city, Sakinaw Lake off the Sunshine Coast makes for a beautiful destination.

Vancouver’s Metropolitan area

Don’t lose hope in seeing the aurora borealis just because you live in a city! You can still see them if you go to areas with less light pollution. Many people have reported viewing the lights from the outskirts of their cities when conditions are ideal.

How to Photograph the Aurora Borealis in Vancouver

When professional photographers take pictures of the Northern Lights using a DSLR camera, sometimes it looks different from what you would see if you were just looking at them with your eyes. This is because our eyes don’t process low light in the same way that a camera does.

When you come across a picture of the lights that stuns you, it might be real, but most likely captured with a high ISO and long exposure time. Photographers usually don’t experience their subjects in the same way as audiences do through images.

To get the perfect photo of the Northern Lights, you’ll need to be patient and practice a lot. The lights move quickly, so you’ll need to estimate your exposure times and take lots of photos to eventually capture that shot-of-a-lifetime!

According to Frozen North Photography, slow auroras require longer exposure times than the fast-moving or dancing auroras captured in shorter exposures. You could also raise your ISO, though this would make your images grainier.

Tripod, snacks, drinks, and clothing to brave the elements are necessary. You will also need a lot of endurance as well as immense patience; however, it could be worth it if your photos make it into National Geographic.

Vancouver Northern Lights

There’s always something to see and do in Vancouver!

In Vancouver, when you’re not looking for a light show, there is still plenty to do. You can enjoy the excellent shopping, restaurants and nightlife that Vancouver has to offer.

Not only are the lights gorgeous in winter, but many activities like ice skating and winter hikes become available.

Vancouver Aquarium is great for all seasons, but wintertime offers some unique exhibits, from the penguins and sea lions to the Amazon rainforest exhibit. There’s bound to be something everyone will enjoy.

The Nat Bailey Stadium and Riley Park Plaza are great places to stock up on food, drinks and other essentials during the winter months on Saturdays.

The market offers everything from homegrown fruits and vegetables to breads, honey, desserts–you name it. And if you need gifts for your friends and loved ones back home, this is the go-to spot for one-of-a-kind presents.

If you come to visit, you could go to an ice hockey game, explore some art galleries and museums, catch a show or listen to live music, or simply relax in your luxury accommodation.

If you want to be well-rested for your evening hunt for the northern lights, book a room with all the amenities of home. You’ll need a good night’s sleep so you can explore without being exhausted!

Here are a few more places where you can see the Northern Lights if the conditions allow it.

  • Cleveland Dam Field
  • Spanish Banks
  • Burnaby Mountain
  • Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond
  • Delta and Tsawwassen
  • Grant Narrow Regional Park in Pitt Meadows
  • Whistler

With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to see the stunning Northern Lights for yourself. If you’re lucky enough to witness the aurora borealis in Vancouver, we hope it leaves you feeling awestruck and motivated to travel elsewhere in pursuit of seeing them again.

For those passionate about staring at the stars, Canada and other global destinations offer much to explore.

One of the great adventures of traveling to see the Northern Lights is that they can be elusive. Part of the fun is never quite knowing when or where you’ll see them.

A holiday trip to see the Northern Lights is a bucket-list experience for many. But if you don’t get to see them, there are still plenty of other things to do!

Although seeing the northern lights is an amazing experience, it’s impossible to guarantee a sighting. So, if you’re planning a trip to see them, make sure to include other activities as well; That way, even if the lights don’t make an appearance, you’ll still have plenty of things to do and enjoy.

The United States, Alaska, Estonia, Russia, and Scotland are some of the most popular tourist destinations to see the awe-inspiring aurora borealis light show.

When can I see Aurora Borealis in Vancouver?

  • Cleveland Dam Field
  • Spanish Banks
  • Burnaby Mountain
  • Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond
  • Delta and Tsawwassen
  • Grant Narrow Regional Park in Pitt Meadows
  • Whistler

How far is Vancouver from the Northern Lights?

It’s not too far from the city (less than an hour to drive), and if you stay overnight, you can have some beach time the following day.

Is 2022 and 2023 a good time to see the Northern Lights?

Winter is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights, so plan your holiday accordingly in 2022 and 2023.