The End of the Polar Night in Finnish Lapland

The beginning of January marks the end of the polar night in Finnish Lapland. This means that the sun appeared again above the horizon, after remaining invisible for weeks at a time. It is considered as an important event by the local communities. They see this as a sign that spring is approaching.

Polar night

First of all, when we say that the sun does not rise at all, it does not mean complete darkness for weeks. The sun does come close enough under the horizon to light up the sky. The light that you get during those days is actually quite exceptional and different from anything you could see elsewhere in the world.

Here’s a photo that I took one week before the sun came up again:

The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland
Despite the sun not rising for weeks at a time, there is still often some gorgeous light in Finnish Lapland even in the middle of “polar night”.

Or look what happened the next morning just outside my cabin in Kaamanen:

Polar night light in Finnish Lapland
The sun never rose that day, and yet I could witness these amazing colors. Colors are real! I even had to tune down the saturation of the photo in post processing!

The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland – aka the end of the Polar Night

Ok, I have to admit that I cheated a little bit to see the sun a couple of days earlier. I climbed on top of the Kaunispää fell in Saariselkä. Because of the altitude, naturally the sun appeared earlier than if standing down on lower grounds, because the view up there is not obstructed by anything.

This is how the landscape looked just before the sun appeared above the horizon.

The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland
The sky turns on fire just before the first reappearance of the sun.


There are more than 40 words to talk about snow (or related frozen stuff) in the Finnish language. Tykkylumi is one of those. According to Wikipedia it translates to crown snow-load and is basically the hardened layer of snow that you can see on the trees on the following pictures. They are such a typical sight of Finnish Lapland’s highest fells.

And with the sun peaking above the fells in Saariselkä, the polar night is truly over in Finnish Lapland.

The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland
The Finns have a name for the hard snow cover of these trees on top of high fells: tykkylumi.
The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland
Close-up of a tree covered with “tykkylumi” and the first rising sun in the background.

In the mean time, the moon…

In the mean time, the moon was also rising in the opposite direction. Don’t you just love these pastel colours?

The return of the sun in Finnish Lapland
… and the Moon is rising in the opposite direction.


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