Skip to main content

Where to see the northern lights in Ontario

Northern Lights Ontario

Where to see the northern lights in Ontario

Canada is one of the best places on the planet to see the Northern Lights and Ontario, in the country's east, is no exception. Here's your guide to where and when to see the best aurora borealis shows. No matter where you are, it's sure to be a thrill.

When to see the Lights

It's true, you're more likely to see the effect further north and in the Arctic, but you can still catch the elusive aurora regularly in Canada's lower latitudes, and that includes Ontario. The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a natural phenomenon in the Northern Hemisphere occurring when the sun's electrically charged particles enter Earth's atmosphere on a solar wind and collide with oxygen and nitrogen gases producing an eerie green glow, misty wisps or curtains of light, or a dancing array of colours zigging and zagging across the night skyExternal Link Title.External Link Title Much of Canada's North lies beneath the Auroral Oval, a magnet of activity.


Chilly winter nights are your best bet and late is optimal -- usually around midnight (11 pm to 3 am). Fall and winter mean longer, darker days and cold nights usually offering the best conditions for a show. For Ontario, September and October are prime time.

Aurora hot spots

You need to be somewhere outside the city, obviously, with little ambient light for the best conditions to see a dramatic aurora display. For example, top spots include backcountry camping or at an off-the-grid wilderness lodge. And you want to go as far north as possible to up your chances. In Ontario, the best places are:


Insider tips

You're likely to see a spectacular display when the sun is most active as this dazzling experience is caused by X-ray solar flares. Get in-the-know for the best chances and conditions possible before you set out:


  • Check the websiteExternal Link Title for the 24-hour forecast to see what the odds are of an aurora show. Look for "X class flares" under "Current Conditions," which indicates chances are good.
  • Read these pointers on how to best photograph External Link Titlethe LightsExternal Link Title. A good result does require some advance preparation.
  • Meet aurora fans who are in the know, super enthusiastic, and regularly organise Lights related events and parties. The North Bay Astronomy ClubExternal Link Title, for one, is quite active.
  • Arrive at your viewing spot early and allow 30 to 40 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Then you'll be ready if and when flighty aurora makes an appearance.
  • Pack some hot cocoa in a thermos, grab a good flashlight and your camera, bundle up, and prepare to stay up late!

Top guides and trips

For a full experience, try one of Ontario's best aurora-equipped outfitters:



While you're up north waiting for aurora to show, take advantage of northern Ontario's other attractions and plentiful outdoor adventure options -- bordered by Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes, it's a wild and beautiful place not known to many, but well worth the trip.

Get ready to see the Northern Lights at the Ontario Travel website.