Nature of the north

8 seasons

In Lapland the year is divided into eight periods. Experience them all and you will see how different they are.

The eight seasons of Lapland

In Lapland the year begins with the frost winter. Most of the province of Lapland is still experiencing the polar night and this is when the hardest frosts of the winter are usually felt. There is a lot of snow and it crunches underfoot. Hoarfrost forms on your eyelashes and the cold makes your cheeks red. There is a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights in the clear, starry sky. The days gradually lengthen.

In March and April the hard snow-crust spring arrives. The first warm days of the year harden the surface of the snow, meaning that when the temperature next drops below zero, the crust can support a person’s weight. The days become noticeably longer and brighter. This is the best time for snow-shoe walking – the hard snow crust makes walking on top of snow drifts easy.

The hard snow-crust spring is followed by the ice-run spring, when the ice begins to break on the rivers. The breaking ice makes a loud murmur and cracking sound when the movement is at its busiest. It is a beautiful sight to watch and make a time-lapse photo of. During the hard snow-crust spring the days are already long and the migratory birds start to return to Lapland. The first globeflowers start to raise their heads and the reindeer start to give birth to their cute calves.

Then it is time for the midnight sun. North of the Arctic Circle the sun does not set at all. The experience is more wonderful the further north you go – in Sodankylä, too, you can see what the sun shining in the middle of the night looks like. Enjoy the midnight sun in natural surroundings, such as on a fell or the banks of the River Kitinen. The midnight sun lasts a total of a month and a half in Sodankylä, from 31 May to 14 July.

Did you know? In Sodankylä the midnight sun lasts a month and a half, but the polar night only lasts four days!

When the sun begins to set again we reach the harvest period. This is when people set off to pick cloudberries and blueberries. There are still insects about, so protect yourself against them. The willow herb flowers, the days gradually shorten, and the first dim evenings bring the early autumn Northern Lights to the sky.

For many Finns, the turn of the leaves is the best-known season in Lapland. The aspens, birches and rowan trees take on their most beautiful colours, as do the blueberries, bog bilberries and mountain bearberries on the ground. The turn of the leaves is usually at its best in the first two weeks of September. Weather conditions affect the turn of the leaves a great deal, meaning it occurs at a different time each year.

By the fall of the first snow the colours of the leaves have dimmed; the thin white gauze of snow can come at any moment. This is a surprisingly good time for a hike: the trails are quiet, the first frosts have dried the land and the darkness means you can spot the Northern Lights. The first snow often falls in Sodankylä in September and starts to stick in October.

The last time of year is the Christmas polar night, when the sun does not rise at all. The polar night is a wonderful experience and much more pleasant than many people think. The polar night is not dark; the snowdrifts and moon illuminate it to a surprising degree, with occasional help from the Northern Lights. The brightest moment of the day is the blue twilight. The polar night gives people a good reason to get some proper rest. In Sodankylä the polar night begins on 20 December and ends just four days later, on Christmas Eve.

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