The midnight sun in Lapland is a paradise for photographers and nature lovers. Imagine yourself being immersed in 24 hours daylight, with the sun staying above the horizon even during the “night” time. There, the golden hour does not last for just half an hour around sunrise and sunset. No, it’s non-stop between 10 PM and 4 AM. Lapland is the place of rivers and forests, of lakes and barren fell tops, of golden light and pastel colours. Sometimes, it is all this at the same time. I discovered the amazing light of the midnight sun in Finnish Lapland, and became an addict.
The Midnight Sun in Lapland
Due to the axial tilt of the Earth, the sun does not set for extended periods of time north to the Arctic Circle. This phenomenon is called the midnight sun. In Inari, at a latitude of about 69°N, the midnight sun period extends from approximately 21 May to 22 July. With so many inhabited places above the Arctic Circle, Finland is truly the land of the Midnight Sun.
Let’s see 8 examples of things that you can do around Inari in Finnish Lapland to get the best experience of the Midnight Sun.
#1 The midnight sun from the top of the Otsamo fell
One of the first hikes I did in summer was to Otsamo fell near Inari. I wanted to photograph the Midnight Sun in Lapland from the top of a fell… The idea was to have a 360° view of the landscapes, with no obstacles. It is such a pleasure to go hiking in the cool summer air! And yes, there were a few mosquitoes along the way, but nothing that a good repellent would not take care of.
Seeing the sun at midnight touch the horizon but without going under is a breathtaking experience by itself.
Also, don’t forget to look around though! There is so much to see everywhere. The good thing is that the Sun stays around its lowest position for a really long time, so there is no rush to “get the shot”. Or get many shots actually.
I remember like it was yesterday our arrival at the top of Otsamo fell. There was intense golden light on one side, with the glow of the sun on trees and rocks. On the other side, we could see the shadows cast by “our” fell on the other lower ones. Opposite to the Sun, the full Moon was floating proudly against a pastel pink sky. I was in awe in front of so much beauty.
For an instant, I could say that I was even overwhelmed. I did not know what I would photograph. But it’s OK. As photographers, we should also be allowed to take it all in, right?
And luckily, such a light lasts almost forever, so I had plenty of time to first absorb it and enjoy it, before I even unpacked the camera and tripod.
The fact that the sun stays so close to the horizon for so long allows to really capture all the colours and light and shadows.
#2 Midnight sun in Lapland from the Kaunispää fell
If you do not want to or cannot hike, you always have the option to drive to the top of Kaunispää fell in Saariselkä. The view there is exceptional as well. I was greeted by the waning gibbous moon above the fells in the distant shadow.
Make sure to check the moon phases before your trip if you want to plan for such shots. I personally think that the moon adds so much to the atmosphere there.
#3 The lake shores are also great to watch the midnight sun in Lapland
This is the land of thousands of lakes. So you won’t have too much trouble finding a good lake shore to watch the Midnight Sun in Lapland.
If you are a bit lucky, you will also be there on a totally windless night, so you can really play with reflections, and have 2 Midnight Suns in your picture.
#4 Midnight Sun and a rainbow
I don’t want to mislead you by making you think that the weather is always amazing. Or is it? Well, you might get wet once in a while. Sometimes even a little bit more. I have experienced some pretty strong rain in Lapland in the summer. But in the same way as I chase the Northern Lights in winter by studying the movement of the clouds, I went chasing rainbows in the summer.
As always in the Arctic, the weather can change really quickly. If you give up because it starts raining, you will miss a lot.
#5 Fishing season
The locals love to go out and spend some time in the wilderness: hiking, fishing, picking berries or just sitting around a campfire and enjoying the nature. I was lucky enough to either go with them or just stumble upon a lone fisherman who allowed me to take a photo of him.
#6 Midnight sun at the fireplace
The Finns are so well organised when it comes to outdoors activities. Thanks to this, you can find several fireplaces and huts along the way. Firewood and an axe are provided free of charge. It just takes a small effort to make a lovely fire, and listen to the river in the distance while eating your diner.
#7 Don’t let clouds spoil your nightless night!
Maybe you don’t always get a rainbow like on #4. But it does not mean that a clouded nightless night is not beautiful as well. On clouded days and even rainy days, Lapland remains a magical place to be. The serenity of the landscape always speaks to you, and you can always find something to photograph.
I often visit this place in the depth of winter to watch the northern lights. I love it equally in summer! This is the start of the Paatsjoki river, which empties Lake Inari into the sea further north in Russia.
And for the more adventurous, there is also this lovely suspended bridge on top of the Lutto River. Would you dare?
Of course this is a joke, there is nothing safer than the Finnish infrastructure on the nature trails!
#8 Stay long enough and you’ll see the first sunset in 2 months!
On the first day following the Midnight Sun period in Inari, the sun went behind the fells for a short hour. This is when I experienced the most beautiful sunset (or was it sunrise?) that I have ever seen! And with this you can easily understand why I never slept at “night” when I was up North. The risk of missing something like that would be too big!
More about the Midnight sun in Lapland
All the summer photos of Lapland in this article are available both as prints and for licensing in my stock and archives gallery. And for the more adventurous of you, why don’t you join us in Inari for the next Nightless night photography workshop?