Light up your life

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are one of nature’s unique wonders. To witness them in their full majesty and splendour it’s best to head for Shetland, Orkney or northern Scotland this winter.

Lying on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska, these areas provide an ideal stage for the Aurora’s spectacular displays.

Of course, they also have other attractions which make a visit very worthwhile.

Shetland, an archipelago of more than 100 islands, has been described as “one of the most thrilling wilderness areas in Britain”. Fly into Lerwick with Loganair direct from Edinburgh and you’ll be ready to enjoy jaw-dropping scenery and fascinating wildlife.

Spot Killer Whales hunting seals, wild otters foraging along beautiful coastline and revel in a bird spotters’ paradise; Shetland is home to more than 450 different bird species, from mute Swans to Atlantic Puffins, Golden Eagles and Great Auks.

Should your interests lie in history rather than nature Orkney is a must-visit. The islands have some of the UK’s most renowned archaeological sites.

There’s Skara Brae, the Stone Age village preserved in sand dunes for thousands of years, Maes Howe, the burial place dating from around 2700 BC, and the Knap of Howar on Papa Westray, which may be the oldest house in northern Europe, having been occupied in 3700 BC. Again, you can fly from Edinburgh direct to the Orkney capital, Kirkwall.

Without a doubt, the only way to toast the Northern Lights is with a good Scotch. If you stay on the mainland, you can savour the Aurora Borealis and fine whisky in Wick, home of the Old Pulteney distillery.

Accessible via a short Loganair flight from Edinburgh, Wick is a place of glorious beaches and coves, as well as hills that provide uninterrupted views of the night sky.

Indeed, the area is such a haven for stargazing that the Castlehill Heritage Centre in nearby Castletown has been designated a Dark Sky Discovery Site (Milky Way class).

Visit any of these locations during autumn and winter, and you have the best chance of experiencing the Lights.

Long evenings and cooler conditions provide a perfect setting for aurorae to set the ether alive with ever-changing rainbows of light.

Whatever you do, you must see this natural phenomenon at least once in your life. Simply put, it’s stunning.

Book your direct flights now from Edinburgh to Shetland (Sumburgh), Orkney (Kirkwall) and Wick at

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