Land of the Midnight Sun

3 minute read

Credits:: Julia Kivelä

The Midnight Sun – iconic natural phenomena in Finland

With stark differences between seasons, Finns are used to contrasts. Dark Arctic winters have their counterpart in one of the most iconic of Finnish natural phenomena, the Midnight Sun.

Many wonder how Finns survive with no sunlight in the winter, and nature replies with 24 hours of it in the summer. The intense contrast in light conditions has a profound effect on all walks of life in Finland.

For understandable reasons, public spaces come to life in the summer. After the harsh winter, endless daylight never arrives a day too early. Summer in Finland is a time spent outside the house enjoying the short but sweet season, and all worries are postponed until nights get dark again.

The nightless night is a phenomenon you can experience in every corner of Finland. The further north you go, the lighter and longer the nights get.
Credits: Harri Tarvainen

24/7 daylight for over two months

Summer in Finland is a spectacular time of the year. For those who venture north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set at all from May to August, while further south the sun can be visible for nearly around the clock during June and July.

When nights are almost as light as day it is possible to do all the same things that you would do during the day. The greatest difference comes from the incredible change in the nature of the light. The sun takes on a reddish-yellow colour – almost like during sunrise or sunset – and everything around you is bathed in an unimaginably warm, bright light.

A nocturnal swim and sauna are a definite must under the Midnight Sun. Lakes and sea waters warm up from June onwards.

Swimming under the Midnight Sun is one of Finland’s most magical summer experiences.
Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

How to make the most of all that sunlight

The quintessential way to take in the Midnight Sun is at a cottage. Many people in Finland have a cottage in the family – often a private little retreat by a lake somewhere. Finns love their quietness, and visitors should also experience true northern style relaxation by escaping the daily grind to a peaceful hideaway.

Some like a different approach. The Midnight Sun extends your day with those extra hours you keep hoping for in your daily life. Make use of it and go hiking, canoeing, fishing or play a round of golf in the wee hours.

Credits: : Harri Tarvainen
One of the best ways to spend the Finnish summer is to enjoy the bright nights at a country cottage. Get together for a barbeque, go to the sauna, and take a dip in a lake at midnight – just like the Finns do!
Credits:: Anneli Hongisto

Mythical Midnight Sun

An old popular belief in the Midnight Sun mythology is that when a young maiden collects seven flowers under her pillow on Midsummer night – the longest day of the year – her future fiancée will show up in her dreams.

Credits: Mikko Huotari

Events under the never setting sun

The best place to experience the Midnight Sun is Finnish Lapland. The Midnight Sun Film Festival (founded by famous filmmaker brothers Kaurismäki) and folklore festival Jutajaiset – both in June – are great ways to enjoy local culture and the Midnight Sun.

In the South, the best time to enjoy the Midnight Sun is around Summer Solstice. A traditional midsummer party in Seurasaari island in Helsinki or a rock festival in the heart of Lakeland both share the magic of white nights.

Credits: : Julia Kivelä
If you’re visiting Finland around juhannus (the summer solstice celebration held at the end of June), you’ll most likely see a bonfire or two. This long-standing tradition was originally believed to keep evil spirits away.

Helsinki = city of white nights

Although the full Midnight Sun can only be experienced above the Arctic Circle, the nights are white throughout the country. Even Helsinki on the southern coast has virtual daylight around the clock. Late at night, the sun just briefly dips beyond the horizon before rising again, blurring the boundaries between fading night and dawning day.

As Helsinki is a coastal city, we recommend island-hopping and all kinds of outdoor activities in the summer.

But, should you still wish to go clubbing and stay indoors, be warned – getting out of a dark nightclub at 3 a.m. can be a bit confusing, as it feels more like 3 p.m. You wouldn’t be the first to swap sleep for an afterparty on the beach – in full sunlight, of course!

Credits: Lauri Rotko / Visit Helsinki

Summer is not about sleeping!

For Finnish children, summer evenings equal no bed time. There is a time for sleeping and it’s called winter – just ask the bears and other mammals that hibernate through most of it.

We say don’t worry about sleep; make the most of the Midnight Sun!

There's no better place to admire the never-setting sun than the Coast and Archipelago region. The Baltic Sea provides the perfect backdrop!
Credits: Tiina Tahvanainen