Chasing Northern Lights in the Interlake: 5 Tips for Capturing the Aurora Borealis

(Photo by:@anthony_urso Location: Steep Rock)

In the heart of Manitoba’s Interlake Region, the night sky becomes a canvas for one of nature’s most awe-inspiring displays – the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. This celestial phenomenon, characterized by vibrant hues of green, pink, and violet dancing across the dark expanse, transforms the serene landscape into a breathtaking spectacle.

(Location: Northern Lights Spectacle on Lake Winnipeg taken by and at @kalsvr)

Interlake’s strategic location, away from major urban centers and boasting vast expanses of pristine wilderness, provides an ideal setting for witnessing the Northern Lights in all their glory. The crisp winter air, often devoid of light pollution, allows the auroras to paint the heavens with unparalleled clarity. Lakeshores, open fields, and elevated viewpoints become natural amphitheaters, offering unobstructed views of the northern horizon where the lights are most likely to appear.
The Aurora Borealis is a result of charged particles from the sun colliding with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a stunning luminescent display. Interlake’s winter months, especially from September to March, coincide with increased solar activity, enhancing the chances of catching this celestial ballet.

(Location: Dunnottar, Manitoba  Photographer:@diane_bbphoto)

As darkness falls over the Interlake Region, the Northern Lights emerge as a silent and mesmerizing dance, captivating those fortunate enough to witness it. Residents and visitors alike gather under the star-studded sky, creating an intimate connection with nature and marveling at the celestial wonders that adorn the night in this tranquil corner of Manitoba. The Aurora Borealis in the Interlake is not merely a visual spectacle; it’s a profound and magical experience that leaves a lasting imprint on all who are fortunate enough to behold its luminous beauty.

Join us on a journey through the winter wonderland of Interlake as we explore the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights and share five valuable tips to help you capture this celestial spectacle.

1. Embrace the Chill, Dress for Success:
Interlake’s winters are crisp and cold, but that’s what makes the experience so unique. Dress in layers to stay warm and comfortable during your Northern Lights chase. Opt for insulated, waterproof gear, and don’t forget gloves and a hat to protect against the biting chill. The clearer and colder the night, the more vivid the Northern Lights are likely to be.
2. Choose the Right Location:
The key to capturing the Northern Lights is finding a location with minimal light pollution and a wide, unobstructed view of the northern horizon. Interlake offers numerous spots ideal for Northern Lights viewing, including lakeshores, open fields, and elevated viewpoints. Patricia Beach Provincial Park and Hecla Island are particularly popular for their dark skies and breathtaking vistas. If you make it up to Hecla be sure to grab a bite to eat Seagulls Restaurant located in the beautiful Lakeview Resort. The town of Gimli, located on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg, is another popular spot for Northern Lights viewing. Gimli Beach provides a wide, open view of the northern sky, and the surrounding community embraces its celestial wonders. 

(Location: Gimli’s Ice Fishing Village on Lake Winnipeg | Photographer: @r_thomson_photo)

3. Timing is Everything:
The Northern Lights are most active during the winter months, with peak visibility occurring between late fall and early spring. Plan your Interlake adventure between September and March for the best chances of witnessing this celestial ballet. Keep an eye on solar activity forecasts, as increased solar activity often leads to more intense and frequent displays. There are a ton of apps for Android and iPhones that help you track the northern lights. Be sure to download one so you don’t miss out. How To Choose a Good Northern Lights App
4. Master Your Camera Settings:
Capturing the Northern Lights requires some camera know-how. Set your camera to manual mode, use a wide-angle lens to capture more of the sky, and set a high ISO (typically between 800 and 3200) to gather more light. Experiment with different exposure times, starting with 15-20 seconds. A sturdy tripod is essential to keep your camera steady during long exposures. If you are using a smartphone check this blog out How to Take Pictures of the Northern Lights with a Smart Phone It is remarkable what we can do with our phones! 
5. Patience and Perseverance:
Nature’s light show can be elusive, so patience is key. Set up your equipment, find a comfortable spot, and wait. Sometimes the Northern Lights appear suddenly and intensify rapidly, while other times they may be subtle and require a keen eye to notice. Allow yourself the time to fully appreciate the experience and capture the perfect shot.

(Left Photo: @diane_bbphoto Location: Winnipeg Beach Tower | Right Photo: @slh_images Location: Camp Morton Provincial Park)

Chasing the Northern Lights in Manitoba’s Interlake Region is a winter bliss like no other. As you embark on this celestial adventure, remember to embrace the cold, choose your location wisely, time your visit carefully, master your camera settings, and above all, exercise patience. The dance of the Northern Lights is a spectacle worth waiting for, and the memories and photographs you capture will be a testament to the magical beauty of winter in the heart of Interlake. Happy chasing! Be sure to tag @interlaketourism and show us your photography.