Above the Arctic Circle you can experience the white nights
and the long winter darkness
The Arctic Circle is something uniqueLike other Arctic areas, Lapland has something unique the Arctic Circle. North of this circle the sun does not go below the horizon in summer and does not show in winter.
The further north you go, the longer the white night period. At the Arctic Circle you can see the midnight sun for nearly a month. But when you go up to the North Cape, you can experience it for about two and a half months - from middle of May till end of July.
Some people even say that the white nights make the biological clocks really go scrambling and make them ungovernable. The length of the time when the sun is above the horizon varies from about a month at the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle to 186 days at the poles.
You can see the midnight sun south of the Antarctic Circle as well. But then you'll have to go to the Antarctic itself. Thus, the only countries and territories whose populations experience it, are limited to the ones living north of the circle, i.e. Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and extremities of Iceland.
Read more about the light of Lapland.
The circle is always movingThe geographical position of the Arctic circle is not static. The latitude of the circle is 66.55° N. This latitude marks the southernmost parallel at which one can experience the white nights with the midnight sun, but also long winter darkness and its twilight period.
The inclination of the earth's axis is changing by a few degrees in a 40,000-year cycle. This is why the location of the circle is also changing at the rate of 14.4 metres annually. It is now moving northwards. This process will continue for a further 10,000 years. After that the circle will start moving south again.
Crossing points in LaplandBy road the circle can be crossed at different points in Finnish Lapland and Swedish Lapland. You can do the crossing by following these roads:
In Finnish LaplandIn Finnish Lapland the Arctic Circle runs through the municipalities of Ylitornio, Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi and Salla (from west towards east).
The E-63 This is the eastern Euopean highway in Finland closest to the Russian border. If you go through Kuusamo, you'll cross the circle about 45 kilometres south of Kemijärvi in the Suomutunturi area.
The E-75 The E-75 is one of the longest European highways in Europe. It starts at the eastern tip of the Mediterrean island Crete in Greece and ends way up at Vardö in Norwegian Lapland. This road crosses the Arctic Circle at Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. This crossing is the most famous because of the Santa Claus Village that has been placed here.
At the Santa Claus village they have visualized the circle. This way you can cross in whatever way you like.
What about jumping, crawling, kissing or dancing across the line? I guess most people just walk. That's a bit dull, isn't it? See the picture to the left.
Tourism started here in the summer of 1950, when Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Rovaniemi. A small log cabin was built to honour her visit. Through the years this cabin became a more and more popular stopping point for those travelling to the north. Today this historical log cabin is open as a museum cafe.
The E-8 In the Torne River Valley you can cross the circle both on the Finnish and the Swedish side of the river. Just a few kilometres south of the the Finnish village Juoksenki, on the E-8, about 25 km north of the community of Ylitorneo, there is another crossing.
In Swedish LaplandIn Swedish Lapland the circle runs through the municipalities of Övertorneå, Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi and Salla (from west towards east).
Road 99 On the road no. 99 (just across the Torne River from Finnish Juoksenki) you cross the circle at Swedish Juoksengi.
The E-10 About 38 km north of Överkalix there is a crossing point near the village Naisheden.
Road 97 About 10 km south-east of Jokkmokk there is another Arctic Circle crossing.
The E-45 About 5 km south of Jokkmokk road there is a crossing point called 'Polcirkeln' in Swedish. (Arctic Circle in English).
The English photographer, Patricia Cowern, lives at Porjus near the circle. Take a look at her Aurora Borealis pictures - or Northern light pictures.
Road 95 About 78 km north of Arjeplog towards the Norwegian border there is a crossing point near the small village Lillviken.
Before travelling the Lapland roads you should read more about driving in Lapland.
In NorwayYou can even go into Norway from Swedish Lapland by the E-12 to Mo i Rana and follow the E-6 to Saltfjellet where you can cross the Arctic Circle.
Read about the Norwegian Arctic Circle crossing point here.
Crossing ceremoniesAt some of the crossing points you may find some crossing ceremonies which you have to participate in to get a crossing certificate. In Rovaniemi you'll get it at the Santa Claus Village. At the other crossing points you have to ask at the local tourist offices.
'Arctic Circle' in other languagesNapapiiri in Finnish
Poláragierdu in Lappish or Sami
Polarsirkelen in Norwegian
Polcirkeln in Swedish