Street lights turned off to help star-gazers in Lapland

The aurora borealis is one of Lapland's many winter attractions, but the light phenomena can be difficult to spot. One town in Lapland has come up with an unusual way to give a better view of the northern lights: turning off the street lamps.

Ylläksen rinnevalot loistavat kirkkaana pimeyden keskellä. Image: Pia Tuukkanen / Yle

In Ylläs, local businesses have asked that street lighting goes out at ten in the evening. Notices in four languages have been produced to inform visitors of the blackouts.

There is some relief from the pitch-dark atmosphere: Businesses have brightly lit signs, and snow production work on the nearby fells requires lighting too. Things are quite dark in town though, and that should help visitors spot the unusual light phenomena the area is known for. Many locals have not even noticed the change, but tourists are excited by the possibilities.

"We left the pub the other night and we were told that all the street lights go out at ten and they kind of followed us up, as we went along we saw them going off," said Kathy, from Cornwall in the UK. "I quite enjoyed it actually and wanted to take photographs."

That view is not universally shared by tourists in the idyllic Arctic landscapes. Kathy’s son Sam, for instance, remains unconvinced by the experience.

"I’m not too keen on the dark so it’s like scary walking home from the pub and shopping centre," said Sam.