Polar Night and Aurora – Utsjoki (Lapland) – January 2020

Utsjoki | 5-12 January 2020

EUR 2650


Deposit: € 250

This will take you to the website of Aurora Holidays who manage the bookings.

5-12 January 2020

Max. 8 participants
(min. 2)

(shared facilities – 2 to 4 people/cottage)

Northern Lights
Polar Night
Reindeer & Huskies
Winter Wonderland

Workshop information

Finnish Lapland is famous for being one of the most prominent destinations to observe the Northern Lights. But the Northern Lights are not the only marvel of the region. Try imagining snow-covered fells as far as the eye can see, the boreal forest and reindeer, all under the most magical winter light. It is also the land of the Sami people, one of the last indigenous people in Europe.

At the beginning of January, the sun never rises in the north of Finnish Lapland. This is the season of the Polar Night. It does not mean however that it is dark all the time. When the sun gets close enough to the horizon, the light displays all kinds of spectacular soft hues. Just imagine a sunset or sunrise that lasts for hours… but even better!

Join award-winning French photographer Rayann Elzein and acclaimed Australian photographer and Olympus Visionary Lisa Michele Burns to explore northern Finnish Lapland and push the boundaries of your creativity to produce spectacular images both during the day time hours of the Polar Night and at night.

Far away from the frenzy of Santa Claus village or from the busy ski resorts, we are heading together to Utsjoki, one of the northernmost and most remote localities in the European Union, just under 70°N. In Utsjoki, we can immerse ourselves fully in authentic Lapland and Sami culture. Included in your workshop is a visit to a Sami reindeer herder, during which you will be able to approach the reindeer closely and photograph them. And for an even more varied view on the Arctic, we will also make an incursion in Norway to the rugged shores of the Barents Sea, weather permitting.

We will be based in the typical Finnish cottages of Aurora Holidays just outside of Utsjoki. Each cottage is fully equipped and even includes its own sauna. With a group of maximum 8 participants, you are guaranteed to receive all the one-on-one instructions that you need, on top of the group efforts.

With this workshop by a photographer and for photographers, you are sure to have the opportunity to create truly unique images.

Who is this workshop for

This northern lights photography workshop in Utsjoki, Lapland, is adequate for photographers of all levels, from beginners to the most experienced. With a small group of maximum 8 participants, there will be opportunities for many one-on-one sessions with each participant. This also avoids us to stand in each other’s way, and makes a smaller impact on the fragile Arctic environment.

This workshop is focused on field experiences and only limited time will be spent in a “classroom”. We will have at our disposal a room where we will sit together and do some editing and answer the questions of the participants.

All-Inclusive Workshop

This workshop is all-inclusive, this means that there are no hidden costs for you as participants. We want you to know fully what you are getting before your trip, and in this way, there can’t be any disappointments. So we take care of everything for you from the moment you land in Ivalo, to the moment you leave.

Only alcoholic beverages, and your flights, are not included in your workshop fee.


Day 1
We pick you up at Ivalo airport and drive to your cottages in Utsjoki. We stop at a large supermarket / convenience store on the way for your last minute supplies if you need any (Utsjoki is quite isolated so we do this near the airport). For the rest, your workshop is all-inclusive!

Day 2
A snowmobile takes us in a sled to the wilderness. We explore the fell area around Utsjoki and the Teno River. Packed lunch in the wilderness. We stop whenever there are good photo opportunities. When we are back, we have some classroom/editing time, and after diner, Northern Lights photography weather permitting.

Day 3
We drive to a Sami reindeer herder in Menesjärvi. We spend time with him in the forest and we photograph the reindeer in the nature. Lunch (buffet) in Inari, followed by a visit of the Siida Museum about local nature and culture. We go back to Utsjoki, where we have diner, followed by Northern Lights photography weather permitting.

Day 4
Rest day. Those who want can go for a hike. We will have extra time for a classroom session. It also allows us to reshuffle the activities if we are forced to by the weather.

Day 5
Breakfast, drive to the shore of the Arctic Ocean in Norway, where we spend all the light hours of the day photographing the totally different landscape. We pack lunches with us, and eat in Norway. Back to Utsjoki in the evening, diner and Aurora chasing weather permitting.

Day 6
Breakfast, and drive to Tana in Norway to meet the huskies. You will go on a tour in the sled pulled by huskies. 1 driver, 1 person who sits in the sled. You can exchange at any time, and there are plenty of stops along the way for photo opportunities. Northern Lights photography weather permitting.

Day 7
Village tour of Utsjoki (church, old cottages, bridge). Classroom time and finale diner at the Valle restaurant (Deatnu).

Day 8
It is time to say goodbye. We have a final breakfast and drive back to the airport in Ivalo where you will catch your flight back to Helsinki.

Check out the blog post about our 2019 workshop in Utsjoki for more photos and insights on our trip.

This itinerary is given to illustrate the activities that we are included in the workshop. They are dependant on the weather, and we might (and certainly will) move them around to give you the best possible experience. We will go Aurora chasing 4 of the 7 nights that you spend in Utsjoki. This will be decided on a daily basis with the latest weather and Aurora forecast. The cottages face the north, so if we don’t go chasing and the weather is clear, you will be able to photograph the Aurora from the front porch of your cottage, or down on the shore of the river.

You will be 2 participants per snowmobile. Drivers can switch at any time. Note that you must bring a valid car driving license to be allowed to drive a snowmobile. We will transport all the photo gear in a sled behind the guide’s snowmobile.

Utsjoki church under the Northern Lights
The church of Utsjoki, just a few kilometers from the cottages where we will stay (2013)

The teachers


Rayann Elzein

Workshop leader
I am a French landscape and nature photographer. I am the initiator of this workshop and will lead it for the 2nd year now. I have has been travelling extensively to Lapland and particularly the area of the workshop for the past 8 winters. I look forward to meeting the new participants!

Lisa Michele Burns

An Australian who can't get enough of Arctic conditions, Lisa is the founder of The Wandering Lens which publishes travel guides for photographers. A professional photographer for 14 years, she's also an Olympus Visionary, underwater and creative landscape photography specialist.

What's included and what do you need to bring

What is included

  • One-on-one and group photography instruction from Rayann Elzein & Lisa Michele Burns
  • Editing time and instruction (Adobe Lightroom)
  • All transportation during the workshop, including transfers from and to the Ivalo airport
  • All accommodation in Finland from January 5 through January 12 at the Aurora Holidays cottages in Utsjoki.
  • Cold weather overalls and boots for the duration of your trip
  • All meals – we don’t have any chefs, so groceries will be provided, and we ask for a group effort to cook the food and clean the dishes. See it as a great moment to share and make new friends!

What is not included

  • Flights to and from Ivalo.
  • Any alcoholic beverages.
  • All clothing base layers – we will send a list of suggested clothes items to take to the registered participants.

What you need to bring

  • Photo camera, lenses, tripod (make sure to bring extra camera batteries)
  • Warm clothes (layers)
  • A laptop for the editing sessions

A detailed list of clothes and equipment will be sent to all participants after registration.

Exceptionaly bright Aurora right above our cottages during the 2019 workshop

Accommodation and logistics

To organise this workshop, I have teamed up with Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki. They will provide us with the cottages, transport and all logistics to make your workshop go very smooth. One of their experienced guides will also be accompanying us the entire time.

They are a family-owned company with great knowledge of the region. They are flexible, knowledgeable and just super fun to be with.  Below you see a few photos from your accommodation and the view from the cottages. The cottages face North, which is ideal for an impromptu Aurora sighting if it happens outside of our chasing hours!

We will move around in a comfortable mini-van, with ample space for every participants plus all the gear that photographers usually bring along.

To reach Utsjoki, you will have to travel to Ivalo airport, where we will pick you up.

Your flights to Lapland

We kindly request you to book either of the following flights. Please note that our workshop location is 2.5 to 3 hours away from the airport, so we cannot deviate from these.

If you wish to arrive some day(s) earlier or stay extra days in Utsjoki, we can arrange this for you. We can also help you booking some extra time in Inari or Ivalo if you wish.

5 January 2020
Finnair AY603 HEL 11:35 – IVL 13:15

12 January 2020
Finnair AY604 IVL 13:55 – HEL 15:25
You can book a later flight that day if you wish, but will have to depart with the group for the 13:55 flight.


Aurora Holidays cottages in Utsjoki
Your cottage in Utsjoki
Inside the cottage
View from the cottages in Utsjoki
Open view to the North from the front porch of your cottage

Payment of the workshop

  • Deposit: € 250 upon booking
  • Full payment to be made 1 month before departure (you will receive instructions in due time)

Aurora Holidays terms and conditions apply, with the exception of the cancellation policy: due to the nature of the workshop, the fees already paid are unfortunately not refundable. However, your spot is transferable. This means that if you (or we) find someone to replace you, then they can take your place.

Leave no trace

We operate this workshop in strict respect of nature and the environment. Perhaps more than anywhere in the world, the nature in the Arctic is very fragile. We ask to all participants to keep this in mind at all time. The only traces that we want to leave are our footsteps in the snow.

What others say

    positive review  It was a great experience. Raynn is a guide that with great experiece to lead us to the best place that possibly see good northern lights. Also he take good care of us and teach us some knowledge about northern lights!

    Jeffrey Manhon Law Avatar Jeffrey Manhon Law
    January 10, 2019

    5 star review  Trés beau cliché mais malheureusement pas de bonnes nouvelles pour la planète l ' humain est responsable de tout cela

    Jocelyne Dubost Avatar Jocelyne Dubost
    August 3, 2018

    5 star review  Rayann came to pick us up at our cabin. We were the only couple this evening, which I really liked (I think Rayann never has large groups, just a few people at the same time). It was immediately clear that he didn't do this aurora tour just for the money, as he was just as excited to see the Northern Lights as we were. We drove to three different - and photogenic - places without light pollution where we could see the light. He helped us with our camera settings so that we could shoot the perfect picture and he made some photographs of us as well. He even lend me his lens as mine was all frozen when we arrived at the third spot. After a couple of hours, he made us warm berryjuice and had some cookies to recharge again. It was a great experience and we would definitely recommend Rayann to anyone looking for a Aurora Experience in Inari.

    Laura van Zutphen Avatar Laura van Zutphen
    January 26, 2018

    5 star review  It was fantastic to meet Rayann. He is very knowledgable and passionate about Finland and Aurora. We learnt a lot of new things on camera settings and the northern lights. We were driving around hunting for the best spots which he knows like his backyard. It was an awesome night seeing Aurora for couple of hours on and off. Thanks for the warm juice during the cold night. Lets keep in touch. Cheers Sue and Steve.

    Steve Kasch Avatar Steve Kasch
    January 21, 2018

    5 star review  If you are in Lapland and you are looking for northern lights he is the guy. He’s the best guide I have ever had. He is precise, meticulous and very passionate. We had a beautiful night tour. Me and my boyfriend liked so much the tour that we did a second one the day after. We saw incredible aurora borealis and beautiful landscapes. Even if the second day was cloudy, beyond any expectation, he drove for hundreds of km, we were indeed close to the very north part of Lapland and we ended up with spectacular lights. With Rayann you are in good hand !! He got a lot of experience driving, going around through Lapland and taking pictures. We indeed have beautiful photos now!!

    Rita Musi Avatar Rita Musi
    January 19, 2018

    5 star review  Une belle rencontre avec rayann continuez à nous faire rêver

    Nel Morin Avatar Nel Morin
    January 15, 2018

A Final note

You are required to have your own travel insurance, which must include repatriation, illness, etc. In order to drive a snowmobile, you must be in possession of a valid driver’s license.

We ask you to send a proof of insurance (and a copy of your driver license if you book the snowmobile driving) no later than 3 months before the start of the workshop.

Utsjoki | 5-12 January 2020

EUR 2650

Deposit: € 250

This will take you to the website of Aurora Holidays who manage the bookings.

Or contact me here if you have any questions.

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