76 Days Of Night – The Svalbard Polar Nights

30th November 2016

I have to reiterate how bad the photos I’ve taken in Svalbard are. I feel frustrated whenever I look at them but in terms of photography I can’t imagine worse conditions, light is afterall pretty essential!

The photo at the top of this post was of the mountain opposite our hotel, whilst I was testing my settings incase the Northern lights decided to show up. It’s one of the only photos I took with my SLR as it was so dark.

As Svalbard is so far North -78° North and the last land stop before the North Pole- during the Polar night the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all for several months.

I’ve experienced the Polar night in Iceland and Norway, where there were three or four hours of daylight and a sort of twilight in-between but this was totally different, not seeing light at all for days was surreal.

The dark sky in Svalbard makes it a great place to see the Northern lights, although unfortunately we weren’t lucky this time and during our stay they didn’t come up far North enough. We kept a close eye on the forecast at all times though and regularly popped outside (during the day and night!) to see if we could see that familiar green tinge.


Each day at a slightly different time we experienced the blue hour, or the far North’s version which was more like ‘ever so slightly less dark hour’.


As Longyearbyen is so small -literally just a cluster of streets- there’s no light polution which means even walking between roads or buildings can leave you in the pitch black at lunch time. This was so surreal and took a lot of getting used to, whilst I felt strangely at ease walking around at midnight there was an almost fear at all times as you can’t see very far infront of you.

We tried to walk to the edge of the settlement on three occassions to take a photo of the polar bear warning sign, but turned back as it was just too dark. The thought of a polar bear stalking you in that darkness was enough to give me the creeps and chicken out every time.


Inside the hotel, paraphin lamps burned night and day which made it feel very cosy.


I definitely find the Midnight Sun more disorientating, but five days without any daylight was a really strange experience. In the absence of being able to see clearly, your mind plays tricks and makes shapes in the darkness. Even though we didn’t see the Northern lights here, I love the magic of knowing they could appear at any time and spending time gazing up at the stars in such a clear sky.

  • rae
    30th November 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I would love to experience the northern lights in person. To be honest, I think that considering the conditions your photos came out great, but at the end of the day experiencing something like the northern lights really is all about the actual experience that becomes an incredible memory. You are so lucky to have been able to stay in Svalbard! I would love to visit a place this far north one day!

    Rae | Love from Berlin

    • Amy
      2nd December 2016 at 9:48 am

      It’s definitely one of my most treasured life experiences, so I hope you get to! Thank you, I took them all on my phone so I would have the memories but the lack of light was really hard to work with. Thank you 🙂

  • Sally
    1st December 2016 at 3:06 am

    I think Norway is such a magical country. I’d love to visit again but actually go out of the city. I saw hints of the northern lights in Oslo but they were dimmed by the light pollution. I can’t imagine not having the sun for five days, it’ll break havoc on my body clock. X

    • Amy
      2nd December 2016 at 9:49 am

      I do too, it’s one of my favourite places. Ah amazing! It’s certainly disorientating x

  • Michelle
    1st December 2016 at 10:21 am

    People who live in places like this year round blow my mind. I mean you obviously must get used to it but just the switch in having ridiculously long daylight hours to none at all feels like it would be so difficult to ever get used to? A cool place to experience though!

    Michelle •

    • Amy
      2nd December 2016 at 9:50 am

      Yeah apparently people can get quite depressed in the winter -understandably- but make the most of the long Summer. I think the extremes make for such amazing weather phenomena like the Northern lights and the Midnight sun so it would be amazing but I agree, I always look forward to the normal UK daylight when I get home. x

  • Yiotou_La
    1st December 2016 at 11:25 am

    This place is magical but to live without daylight?? How strange. I think I wouldn’t get use to it, ever. Good light is essential when taking pictures and yours came out great, despite of the circumstances!!!


    • Amy
      2nd December 2016 at 9:50 am

      Weirdly I think I prefer the long darkness months to the Summer ones with constant light haha. But agree it must be so strange to live with it daily. Thanks Yiota! x

  • HALE
    1st December 2016 at 5:45 pm

    It’s a shame you didn’t get to see the northen light, but it still seems like you had a wonderful experience!
    Aleeha xXx

    • Amy
      2nd December 2016 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Aleeha, it was a great trip x

  • Jacquard Flower
    5th December 2016 at 4:45 pm

    This is so cool, what an amazing experience. Gemma x

    • Amy
      15th December 2016 at 9:03 am

      I loved it. Thanks Gemma x

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