Why Is My Northern Lights Tour Cancelled?

Why is my Northern Lights tour Cancelled?

Weather in Iceland is notoriously variable due to our small island being situated right by the Arctic Circle and in the path of the North Atlantic Current. Luckily, this exact location is ideal for Northern Lights tours, as we normally have some activity! The biggest problem is the cloud cover, as the clouds can block any sighting.

Being a professional Northern Lights Guide holds a great deal of responsibility. We appreciate you have limited time and finances to spend in Iceland and part of our responsibility is to help you spend both wisely. Therefore, we feel we must cancel our tour when chances of a sighting are low, and go ahead with the tour when chances are good.

Each day our team of experts makes an intricately thought out Go-or-Cancel decision. This decision is based on advanced forecasts and real-time data of both Earth and Space weather, laced with hands-on knowledge and experience. Hence, our overall 90% success rate in finding visible-to-the-naked-eye Northern Lights on our tours.

Sighting and Cancellation rate

Out of the times we believe in a sighting and go ahead with the tour we are 10% wrong. In the same way, out of the times we don’t believe in a sighting and cancel the tour we are also 10% wrong. Therefore, inevitably it does happen that we cancel a tour on a night which then turns out to have a sighting.

On average, we cancel our tour, due to weather, 50% of the time. This means that overall on any given night during the Northern Lights season in Iceland there is a 50% chance of a sighting. On our Go nights the chance is 90%. And on our Cancel nights the chance is 10%.

Because of this high cancellation rate we normally recommend you book your tour on your first available night here. This leaves the rest of your stay available to re-schedule in case of a Cancel or to join a free re-run in case of a non-sighting. This gives you the biggest window of opportunity.

So, tour companies in fact cancel their Northern Lights tours as part of a good service. They don’t spend your time and money when the chance of a sighting is low. This is the norm for most companies in Iceland, including us.

What if you want to take that 10% chance but all tours are cancelled?

We meet this demand by offering another tour option. This option has a guaranteed departure every night to search for Northern Lights, regardless of the success percentage forecast.*

To offer a Northern Lights tour, in good conscience, with a variable 10-90% chance of a sighting we decided on these basic requirements:

  • We must guarantee a departure each night, for all you optimists out there.
    Easy, we have the most enthusiastic and determined guides!
  • The vehicle must be comfortable to allow for longer drives with a small group.
    Minibus, 16 people max and plenty of space to stretch your legs.
  • We must include a unique and reliable value to make up for non-sighting tours.
    A visit to the one-of-a-kind Aurora Basecamp, Northern Lights Observatory, where you will see a real-time simulation of the Northern Lights as well as gain a wealth of information and insight into the Aurora science.
  • With an overall 50% sighting chance we can’t offer a free re-run, so we wanted the price to be lower than our other tours, without compromising our ambition to provide a valuable experience in a small group.
    Minibus: a slightly larger group per guide but still small enough to remain intimate.
  • The guide must have extensive experience and knowledge of Northern Lights hunting, be able to keep people entertained with information and stories during an extended search and be able to capture good photos when the lights appear.
    Easy, that’s all our guides!

Northern Lights Guaranteed?

Our new Northern Lights Guaranteed tour has everything we wanted and more! This tour option is a breakthrough in service to Northern Lights chasers who have come here from far away. No more cancellations and no more leaving the country without trying, however small that chance may be.

Our impossible dream is that all our guests can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights during their stay in Iceland. This new tour option is another tool in our toolbox of making dreams come true.

With a low chance of a sighting it is tricky to be in the right place at the right time, but if there are lights to be found our team will find them!

*We do of course cancel the tour when safety calls for it due to storm alerts etc.

10 Impressive Northern Lights Statistics

Here we have listed 10 Impressive Northern Lights Statistics from our value packed, small group Northern Lights & Stargazing tour:

10 Impressive Northern Lights statistics

93.33% Sighting Rate

Number one of our 10 Impressive Northern Lights statistics for September, the first month of the 17/18 Northern Lights season, is our amazing 93.33% rate of success! Our overall success rate since starting these tours back in 2014 is a whopping 90%. Can we get it up to 95% this season?

30 days of September carefully studying weather forecasts and satellite data gave us 15 decisions to go ahead with a Northern Lights hunting tour.

15 Tours

30 days of September carefully studying weather forecasts and satellite data gave us 15 decisions to go ahead with a Northern Lights hunting tour. Our co-founder, Róbert, is our weather guru. He pores over the weather data all day long and makes the tough decision every day to go out or cancel. We are adamant about only taking you guys out if we sincerely believe our chances of seeing those elusive lights are good.

On our only non-sighting tour this month we still managed to explore Andromeda Galaxy before the clouds set in, and then invited everyone back for a free tour, and then saw the lights!

1 Non-sighting

Even the best of us aren’t perfect. On our only non-sighting tour this month we still managed to explore Andromeda Galaxy before the clouds set in, and then invited everyone back for a free tour, and then saw the lights! We also played around with light photography, just for fun.

We take groups of 2-14 passengers. 7 passengers max per guide/vehicle. 2 vehicles max together on location.

2 Defenders

Our 2 Land Rover Defender adventure vehicles, HappyOne & HappyToo, get us to the location needed each time. They are installed with additional diesel heaters to keep us warm through the evening. We take groups of 2-14 passengers. 7 passengers max per guide/vehicle. 2 vehicles max together on location.

Our guides are equipped with the weapons necessary for a successful sighting; meteorology expertise, astronomy knowledge and local know-how. Some of them even have a sixth sense when it comes to sniffing out the green stuff!

5 Serious Guides

We take Northern Lights hunting seriously 😉 Our mission in life is to find the Northern Lights for YOU. We don’t give up easily! Our guides are equipped with the weapons necessary for a successful sighting; meteorology expertise, astronomy knowledge and local know-how. Some of them even have a sixth sense when it comes to sniffing out the green stuff!

During these 15 tours we have taken out a total of 147 happy adventurers who now know more about the wonders of the night sky than most people will ever do.

147 Happy Passengers

During these 15 tours we have taken out a total of 147 happy adventurers who now know more about the wonders of the night sky than most people will ever do.

Most people say it's the best hot chocolate they have ever tasted. Some even say it's divine... but you just have to try it for yourself ;-) 

52 Litres Cocoa

Already we have made 52 litres of delicious real hot chocolate. How many will there be by the end of season? Our other co-founder, Anita, makes the hot chocolate in her home before the start of each tour. Using local whole milk, Icelandic chocolate and sea salt carefully crafted from the Arctic Sea using Geothermal Energy. Most people say it’s the best hot chocolate they have ever tasted. Some even say it’s divine… but you just have to try it for yourself 😉

All Northern Lights photos from our tours are taken by our guides and shared with our group for free the next day.

1 Million Photos

No, I don’t know, too many to count anyway! All Northern Lights photos from our tours are taken by our guides and shared with our group for free the next day. Most of you only see the Northern Lights once in your lifetime. We’d like you to have some amazing photos of the experience. We are not professional photographers, but we are well equipped and have the experience to capture amazing photos of you under the lights. We also photograph the lights themselves all night long so you will have plenty of images to show friends and family when you get back home. We can also help you set up your own camera, if you are so inclined. We recommend you get your settings sorted before though, as it’s no fun stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out where your settings are. We have written a handy guide here: Northern Lights Photography Settings.

We always bring our impressive telescope with us.

9 Sky Objects

We always bring our impressive telescope with us. Sometimes we have a clear sky but no lights, so then we can explore the night sky while we wait for the lights. So far we have checked these objects out: Seven Sisters Open Star Cluster, Andromeda Galaxy, Albireo Double Star in Signus, Ring Nebula in Lyra, Starcluster in Auriga, The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, Globular Cluster in the Constellation of Pegasus, The Moon and Double Cluster in Perseius.

After April 15th we turn the Northern Lights off and start focusing on Paragliding :-) So hurry up and join us before we are hit with summer and 24 hour daylight!

196 Days Left

of the Northern Lights season. After April 15th we turn the Northern Lights off and start focusing on Paragliding 🙂 So hurry up and join us before we are hit with summer and 24 hour daylight! (Yes, that’s why we have a Northern Lights season).

That concludes our 10 Impressive Northern Lights statistics for September, the first month of the 17/18 season.

You can check out our amazing Northern Lights & Stargazing tour here.

Northern Lights Photography settings

7 Easy Steps to Your Own Amazing Photos

Northern Lights Photography Settings

This Northern Lights Photography settings guide, in 7 easy steps, is aimed at beginners. You can use any camera with an option for Manual settings. Following these steps, most modern cameras will produce beautiful digital photos for on-screen purposes. Read more

Friday 11. September 2015

Aurora blew us away this evening! A full on display of colour and light for a full hour. 

The lights started while we were still on the highway. We pulled over at the first opportunity for a short preview before carrying on the 15 more minutes to our destination. Our haunted house at Vatnsleysuströnd was deserted as ever… though there were a few spooky changes I might tell you about in a different tale. Read more

How to Layer Like a Viking

Stay warm on your Northern Lights tour in Iceland with our handy guide below.

It doesn’t matter how many layers you wear, if they are not the right layers you will be cold!
It is important to choose layers of clothes to let moisture out and trap air in. Trapped air keeps you warm but moisture keeps you damp and cold. It’s all about the materials. Go for quick drying materials like wool, fleece, polyester and synthetics. Stay away from cotton. Choose your innermost layer carefully and go for big fluffy outer layers to trap the air/warmth in.

Read more

Aurora is On

Northern Lights in Iceland

Charge your batteries and put on your warmest clothes… Aurora season has begun!

To us, this (below) is a beautiful picture! Why? Because it tells us the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) were extremely active last night! After a (way too) short period of long summer days in Iceland, nights are finally dark + the Magnetic Observatory charts are rocking = we are in Aurora season 🙂 Now all we need is a clear sky to be able to see them!

Read more

Artists Paint an Entire 757 into Northern Lights

Dressed in the beautiful colors of an Icelandic winter landscape, Icelandair’s aircraft Hekla Aurora flies the Northern Lights across the Atlantic every day of the year. Not only is the Boeing 757 wrapped in this exquisite livery, but in addition, Hekla Aurora’s interior is illuminated with beautiful one-of-a-kind mood lighting recreating the fabulous display of the Aurora Borealis. Read more

Northern Lights Airplane

A Boeing 757 passenger plane from Icelandair has gathered much attention since its exterior was decorated with the northern lights. According to Icelandair spokesman Guðjón Arngrímsson, the paint job was finished yesterday. Photos of the plane are now flying high on the net, with many users admiring its beauty.

Read more

Iceland Aurora – the film

Iceland Aurora is a non-narrative time-lapse film which captures the mesmerising Aurora Borealis and the unique scenery of Iceland. Each of Iceland Aurora’s seven chapters showcases a unique aspect of the Icelandic winter, with matching scores from musicians Pétur Jónsson, Kajak and Yagya. Together, they will take you on a magical journey through the ideal Icelandic winter week!

Read more

How can we help?

You can reach us by phone: +354 780 6766 or e-mail: info@happyworld.is. If you don't get an immediate answer the Happyworld team is out in the field and will get back to you as soon as possible! Thank you :-)

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