Iceland’s capital switched off its street lights for a better Northern Lights show

reykjavik street lights northern
Simonekesh/123RF
The Northern Lights must be one of our most spectacular naturally occurring events, the ethereal light show each year prompting thousands to travel vast distances to witness the phenomenon.

Far enough north, Iceland has become a popular spot to view the Northern Lights, and last week the country’s capital took an unusual step to make the show extra special for visitors and residents alike.

To reduce light pollution in a bid to highlight the natural light show, Reykjavik city council switched off all of its street lights for an hour on Wednesday night. It also encouraged locals to follow suit.

“Residents are invited to join in by turning out the lights at home so as to maximize the darkness and minimize light pollution,” the city council said in a statement.

Many Reykjavik residents were indeed happy to participate, plunging the city into an unusual state of almost total darkness.

The authorities also urged drivers to take extra care while on the city’s darker-than-usual streets, and happily no serious incidents were reported during the blackout.

Of course, you never really know how spectacular the natural light show is going to be until it’s underway (if it gets underway at all), but judging by posts on social media, the council’s move to kill the lights paid off.

Crazy #auroraborealis #northernlights #hallgrimskirkja

A photo posted by Freyja Melsted (@freytschi) on

Last year, Iceland’s national carrier installed a special LED ceiling in one of its planes to create a Northern Lights-style experience for passengers during flights.

“When we saw the lights come on, it was really great just feeling that atmosphere of natural beauty that you get while being in this country,” an Iceland Air passenger said of the show.

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