Confession time. I’ve not seen the Northern Lights. I know I know, I’ve lived in Finland for a year now and still not made the long trip north to see them. Two things have put me off, one is how everyone complains about the cost of staying up in the Arctic Circle at this time of the year when all the tourists flood in, and the second is how it’s really down to luck whether you even get to see them. The thought that I might spend a lot of money to specifically go and see the Northern Lights and then come back without having done so discourages me from even taking the risk. Well it seems like Norway is trying to convince me, and you, to visit them and catch the Lights.

Today sees the announcement of a new app from Innovation Norway, the state owned company that among its main roles includes promoting tourism and to that end runs the website Visitnorway through which the app has been launched. NorwayLights is Norway’s attempt to calm my fears about missing out on seeing the Northern Lights. Its been released on both iOS and Android and includes features such as a 3-day extended forecast and hourly forecast for the day. It can also give you a recommendation on whether to anticipate northern light activities in a specific city in Norway or not. All incredibly useful if you’re hunting those elusive lights.

“To see the Northern Lights dance across the Arctic sky is a ‘once in a lifetime experience’. We want [to] enable more people to experience the northern lights in Norway this winter by making it more accessible,” said Per-Arne Tuftin, Director of Tourism at Innovation Norway. “We are happy to see that an increasing number of tourists are coming to Norway to chase the mysterious Northern Lights for themselves. We hope that our new free app, NorwayLights, will make it even easier to spot the northern lights this winter.”

Their press release says that according to unnamed or referenced scientists, 2013 is going to be a record year for the Northern Lights. Also that researchers, again we’re not told who, are predicting the winter season of 2014/2015 will be another good year for spotting the northern lights. If so it definitely sounds like a good time to go and try and see them.

Apparently during the last decade it has become easier to predict the weather and upcoming Northern Lights conditions, and Visitnorway wants to make this knowledge available to anyone interested in experiencing the Northern Lights for themselves. Probably because it will make people more likely to pick Norway as their destination to go see the Lights than say either Finland, Iceland or Sweden. Smart thinking really, and puts the ball back in the court of the other Nordic countries, what will their tourism boards do to lure tourists back to their parts of the Arctic Circle?

For now I’ll start pricing up flights to Northern Norway, I can’t let a second winter pass without seeing the Lights.

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