• mahabis travel // polar nights in tromso

mahabis travel // polar nights in tromso


Winter in Scandinavia is unlike any winter season found around the globe. It's frozen cold months feature daylight hours so short they've been forced to create words which don't translate, in order to weave a more liveable lifestyle. Hyyge has been touted as a "vague cultural concept which doesn't translate easily into English, but it has helped Denmark become the 'happiest country on Earth' despite long, dark winters" [1]  Undoubtedly, it works. Rather than enduring the winter as other countries do, they revel in it.



In Tromso, Norway, this is demonstrated even further by the fact that the sun doesn't rise at all between November and January, yet its residents do not suffer for it. Far from hibernating alone, they embrace the months in which the polar circle is engulfed in darkness. The Norwegian version of hygge is 'koselig'; directly translated as 'cosiness' but evoking much more. No word in English quite covers the closeness, togetherness and warmth of koselig; a Scandinavian world lit by the northern lights and a huge emphasis is placed upon spending quality time with loved ones. 

If the delightful hygge/koselig outlook isn't tempting enough, winter in even the darkest of winters is truly magical and full of life. For the exercise fanatics, the Tromso half marathon is surely one to cross off the list; like no other run, it's entirely in the dark, illuminated by the glory of the northern lights. For those with little ones in tow, embark on a short trip to light the magic of Christmas by helping Santa prepare for the festive season at Nisse weekend in Berg, a farm cluster just outside of the city. Alternatively, the northernmost city in Europe also holds a film festival. Outdoors, of course, you'll become enamoured with the idea of living in the dark when outdoor cinema wrapped in blankets captures your heart and imagination.



In a trip bound to be punctuated by reindeer burgers and festive markets, races and movies, Tromso's polar nights are also a natural sight to behold. Despite the sun never rising above the horizon during this time you can expect a full spectrum of colours due to various phenomena. When the sun is just below the horizon you'll see bright pinks, blues and yellows which mimic a sunrise or set with a clarity of colour you won't find elsewhere.

You may also catch 'the blue hour', between 1–2 o’clock in the afternoon. It feels as though you are looking through coloured lenses when the landscape is filtered by a deep midnight blue. The blue hour occurs at this time as sunlight is reflected off the sea and snow.



Of course the most spectacular of light shows is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The increased hours of darkness heightens your chances of catching this natural wonder of the world. The phenomenon was named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, combined with the Greek for the north wind, Boreas, and cannot be adequately captured by photo or video. We've all seen incredible photographs of it, and been amazed by the colours dancing in the sky, but nothing will match the experience of being bundled up in the snow and seeing for yourself. 


images // paul itkinjovi waqajames studarus