Omega Breaks offers night flight for Northern Lights seekers

Omega Breaks, the UK-based tour operator, has announced plans to offer its night flight service from Cardiff again in March 2019, enabling stargazers to sight the Aurora Borealis.

The plan follows the success of an inaugural trip in March, and the next night flight in search of the Northern Lights will take off on Friday March 8, 2019. The trip offers customers an opportunity to take to the skies on board an aircraft to seek out the Northern Lights, the colourful dancing lights resulting from the ionization of solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field at high atmosphere.

Deb Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Our customers will really enjoy the opportunity to take off from Cardiff and discover one of the world’s most amazing natural phenomenons from the sky. This was such a unique and popular addition to our schedule back in the spring, so it’s great to see the return of the Northern Lights experience with Omega Breaks in 2019.’

Peter Truman, Astronomy Consultant at Omega Breaks, added: ‘These unique flights, which have been operating for 20 years, really offer an excellent opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

‘We are above the main obstacle, cloud cover, and also have a much wider overall view of the Auroral Oval from around 36000ft above sea level, than you do at ground level.’

The Omega Break experience will begin at Cardiff Airport with a presentation in the terminal from guest astronomer Pete Lawrence, presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night programme. He will be joined by Nigel Bradbury, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an active amateur astronomer for over 40 years. Seeking out the best views of the Northern Lights, the three and a quarter hour-long flight will take off from Cardiff in the darkest hours of the night, with on-board commentary by the two expert astronomers. Bookings can be done at the Omega Breaks website.

Super Break announces first flight from Cardiff Airport to Iceland

Super Break has commenced its first exclusive flight break to Iceland from Cardiff Airport, and the first direct route from the UK to Akureyri in North Iceland on January 12.

The flight is the first of 14 direct routes from the UK this winter heading to this part of northern Iceland. Holidaymakers on the inaugural Super Break service from Cardiff can enjoy the ‘Incredible Iceland’ experience, comprising a three-night break with the opportunity to search for the Northern Lights. On arriving in Northern Iceland, holidaymakers will also visit a volcano, embark on a lava walk and indulge in a beer spa, subject to extra charges for the beer spa.

All Super Break trips to Akureyri will include a Lake Myvatn Adventure – Land of Fire and Ice Tour offering, a chance to see the region’s magical terrains, the Goddafoss Waterfall, the boiling mud pools of Namafjall and a stop at Vogafjos working farm. Holidaymakers may also choose to visit Myvatn Nature Baths – the ‘Blue Lagoon of the North’, or take part in a Snowmobiling Experience, subject to extra charges as applicable, Cardiff Airport said in a release.

Hugo Kimber from Super Break said: ‘It is a great pleasure to provide our customers at Cardiff Airport today with a wonderful experience from check-in throughout their stay, and hope that the special activities put on at the airport today will ensure that they have a fantastic start to their trip.

‘Super Break is incredibly excited to be the first to offer these brand new and exclusive flights to Akureyri in Northern Iceland, as part of our new short break charter programme. Previously unreachable from UK airports, we are delighted to be able to connect holidaymakers with this stunning part of the world and offer them a truly once in a lifetime experience.’

Spencer Birns, Commercial Director of Cardiff Airport added: ‘It is fantastic to be the first UK airport to offer this brand new direct route to Northern Iceland and see the first flight take off today from Cardiff Airport. The look on the passengers’ faces as they were surprised with the choir was superb and we have no doubt the trip will remain with them for a long time to come.’

Super Break has expanded its charter programme from Cardiff airport with breaks available to destinations including Seville, Malta, Montenegro, Croatia and the Adriatic Coast, Madeira, and further ‘Incredible Iceland’ breaks in 2018-2019. There will be a further two flights to Iceland from Cardiff Airport departing on December 28, 2018 and January 21, 2019, the airport said.

Super Break announces exclusive short breaks from Cardiff Airport

British holiday company Super Break has added five new destinations to its offering of short breaks available from Cardiff Airport for 2018/19, the airport said.

The move comes after the company’s recently announced packages to Iceland and Seville. For holidaymakers seeking warmer climates, Super Break has added package breaks to Malta and Madeira, as well as a trip taking in Montenegro, Croatia and the Adriatic Coast – making it the tour operator’s biggest ever flight programme for 2018. All breaks with Super Break include in-destination experiences, central accommodation, return flights, 20kg of luggage, 5kg hand luggage and transfers.

As part of the programme, Super Break will offer chartered flight services to Iceland, including the Search for the Northern Lights tour and Lake Myvatn Land of Fire and Ice experience, available shortly. In addition, the company is offering an Iceland under the Midnight Sun tour programme for midnight sun whale watching and a Lake Myvatn Adventure Nature at its Best Tour. Available on sale soon, this flight service will depart on June 22, 2018.

Further, Super Break is offering chartered flight services to Malta, including a full day tour to Gozo Calypso Island, nightfall tour to Mdina and an option to add on a visit to European Capital of Culture 2018, Valletta. The flights will depart on June 4, 2018; to Montenegro, Croatia and the Adriatic Coast – including Dubrovnik – Pearl of the Adriatic full day tour and Best of Montenegro full day tour, with flights departing on September 21, 2018 as well as services to Madeira – including Madeira Island Highlights tour and Funchal Sightseeing tour, with services departing on November 2, 2018.

Katherine Scott from Super Break said: ‘We’re incredibly proud and excited to be launching our new chartered flight programme, providing holidaymakers from Wales with a brand-new selection of incredible travel experiences to choose from in 2018. Following the huge demand for our exclusive flights to Akureyri, Iceland, we have expanded the schedule from Cardiff Airport to now offer unforgettable travel experiences in five of Europe’s most exciting destinations, helping to connect more holidaymakers to new locations on the continent and beyond, all from their local airport.’

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport added: ‘We’ve seen a huge increase in unique and unforgettable short breaks added to Super Break’s Cardiff schedule this year, and it’s great to see them offer something a little different for our customers.’

Destinations like Iceland, Madeira and Montenegro are welcome additions to the choice of destinations available from Cardiff, they’re proving hugely popular so far and we look forward to more exciting announcements in the future.’

Cruise and Maritime offers cruise to the Northern Lights from Bristol

Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) has launched an offer to sail off on a ‘Land of the Northern Lights’ cruise next month.

CMV, which claims to have led the re-birth of Bristol Avonmouth as a major cruise departure port, has also reduced the cost of this cruise with substantial discounts of up to 60 percent and an affordable starting price of £799pp.

The offer comes after last year’s Planet Traveller magazine survey revealed that a significant 58 percent of respondents voted the Northern Lights as the travel experience they would most like to have.

CMV’s Discovery sails from Bristol  Avonmouth – on February 24 for 15 nights and terminates in Liverpool, from where an optional coach transfer is available back to Bristol for £25pp.

Cruise and Maritime’s, head of marketing, Mike Hall, said ‘Last week’s BBC TV live coverage featured the Northern Lights on the Stargazing programme. Since then public interest has grown substantially and we have been busy with new enquiries. Senior NASA scientists have predicted that the conditions for viewing the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) would be at their best this winter.’

From Bristol, the ship will head up to the Norwegian coastline and across the Arctic Circle to spot the spectacular Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. This atmospheric display of green and pink lights swirling across the sky is one of nature’s wonders.

The cruise will also include visits to Stavanger, Alesund and Narvik.

Passengers will also have the opportunity of seeing Polar wildlife, winter landscapes including the Svartisen Glacier, and an optional excursion to see the unique Igloo Hotel. The Discovery will also visit Andalsnes and Bergen before returning to Liverpool.

The per person prices are based on two people sharing an inner cabin on a full board basis with afternoon tea and late night snacks included. Also included in the fare are daytime activities, a guest speaker programme, evening ‘big show’ entertainment, complimentary tea and coffee and luggage handling.

Northern Lights top among Brit’s must-see destinations

Britons compiling a ‘bucket list’ of must-see destinations consider seeing the Northern Lights as the most sought after travel experience in the world, The Telegraph has reported citing recent research.

The research – conducted by online comparison website TravelSupermarket – reflects a growing tendency of Britons to compile lists of places to see during their lifetimes, with more than half – 54 per cent – now having one.

Nearly 37 per cent of those questioned by TravelSupermarket had the Northern Lights topping their bucket lists. The other top must-see destinations include the Egyptian pyramids (35 per cent), Route 66 (33 per cent), the Great Wall of China (32 per cent) and going on safari in Africa (31 per cent). Also featuring on Brits’ bucket list are: taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and the Las Vegas strip (30 per cent), going on a cruise in the Caribbean (29 per cent), seeing the Taj Mahal, India (28 per cent), riding a gondola in Venice (27 per cent) and diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (24 per cent).

Northern Lights – also known as the aurora borealis – has had huge coverage this year. Nature’s most spectacular lightshow with displays of greens, yellows and reds is often vibrantly visible in countries including Iceland, Sweden and Finland.

‘We have been hearing of some truly once-in-a-lifetime sightings of the lights and solar flares,’ said Jonny Cooper, the managing director of Off the Map Travel, a company that specialises in trips to view the lights. ‘Both in terms of their scale (they have filled the skies) and duration (they have lasted for several hours), they have been very powerful. And there should be even stronger ones to come.’

Displays of the lights are governed by an 11-year cycle, and this month it is expected to hit the top of the cycle – a ‘solar maximum,’ the Telegraph said, citing NASA scientists.

While the best sightings are usually recorded above the Arctic Circle, the lights have already been observed closer to home – from including places as far south as the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

Visit Canada for the beautiful Northern Lights

In September of 2012 we will be making the most of what NASA has assured us will be the ‘zenith’ of the Northern Lights and travelling to Canada’s Northern extremities. After arriving into Yellowknife, we will be staying at the stunning Blachford Lake Lodge – not only granting us ideal conditions to observe the Aurora Borealis, but also allowing us to experience first hand the incredible landscapes and winter activities for which the area is famed.

Why Yellowknife?

Unlike the majority of Northern Light hotspots, Yellowknife sits right in the centre of the Aurora belt. This means that both the intensity and the frequency of the displays are as good (or better) than anywhere else in the world. Combined with the predictable and steady continental weather patterns, and it’s easy to see why Yellowknife and the surrounding area is considered by many to be the absolute best place in the world in terms of the chance to not only see the Aurora Borealis, but the also highest chance of seeing an impressive display.

 

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, the sky’s own light show, have always been the object of great wonder to mankind. Legend has it; the Northern Lights have been seen as everything from evil spirits to celestial wars with their marching armies. These beautiful displays have, over time, given rise to a wealth of works of art, myths, legends and stories.

The Northern Lights are caused by charged gas particles that flow away from the Sun as a “solar wind” and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. The charged particles “excite” gases in our atmosphere and make make them glow, just like gas in a fluorescent tube. The colours depend on the type of gas, a red or green glow is oxygen and the blue and purple colours are produced by nitrogen.  The solar wind reacts with the earth’s magnetic field in a doughnut shaped area around the North Pole (the auroral oval) and you need to be within sight of this area to see the lights.

The appearance of the aurora is closely connected to activity on the sun.  This activity usually changes over a cycle of around eleven years and after a quiet period of several years (a solar minimum) the sun has now become active again.  This activity is expected to increase for the next two to three years, before again declining.

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, the Aurora can appear abruptly, filling the sky at incredible speed with great arcs, as ghostly wisps in green, yellow, red and violet dance above the horizon, before disappearing again.

The Inuit of Greenland believed the lights came from the realm of the dead, caused by the spirits trying to contact their living relatives, and Norwegian sailors believe the displays were the souls of young maiden’s waving and dancing in the night’s sky. The Danes believed the Northern Lights to be swans that had strayed too far north and got stuck in the ice. As they struggled to break free, each stroke of their wings was reflected in the sky, forming the Northern Lights. Whatever explanation to this natural phenomenon, everyone who has seen the Northern Lights have been caught in awe by this magical display, a celestial show which truly needs to be seen to be believed.

Flight exclusive price for the Yellowknife Northern Lights holiday is £2195

Seeing Northern Lights Top’s Holiday Wish-List

Many employees will see the start of the new holiday year this month and will start thinking about getting away for well needed holiday. A recent survey undertaken by travel specialist, The Adventure Company, has revealed that the enigmatic Aurora Borealis is the leading light when it comes to the holiday experience wish-list.

Survey results have shown that from 8000 UK travellers, the Northern Lights topped the league of iconic sights that Brits would most like to experience over the coming year with 16% of votes. Only narrowly beating Machu Picchu (15.7%) – which this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of being ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham – to the ‘must-see’ post.

Explaining the rising popularity of this natural phenomenon Claire Wilson, MD of The Adventure Company, said: “It seems that recent shows such as the BBC’s ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ and Joanna Lumley’s own Northern Lights experiences have really inspired us Brits to look up for holiday inspiration. Coupled with natural displays such as a partial eclipse of the sun and a meteor shower being visible in a few fortunate corners of the UK over the last few months along with last month’s super moon, it looks like the UK’s fascination with ‘star-gazing’ on their travels may finally be moving away from C-list celebrities.”

In third position, with 8.6% of responses, was Nepal’s mighty Himalaya. No longer simply the domain of hardened mountaineers or travellers on the hippy trail, the region has become more accessible through increased flights while The Adventure Company has experienced a 60% increase in demand for holidays to the Himalayan Kingdom over the last four years. And with 2011 having been declared the year of tourism Nepal, it seems that the country¡¦s appeal to those new to adventure and seasoned travellers alike will continue to flourish.

Wildlife-rich destinations such as The Galapagos (8.2%), The Amazon (4%) and The Rainforest (3.6%), meanwhile, were left further down the list, in fourth, eighth and tenth place respectively.
However, perhaps indicating that animals have become as much of a reason to travel as the destination itself, tigers proved triumphant with a quarter of holidaymakers (23.2%) voting the endangered species the animal they would most like to see in their natural environment. With Tigers teetering on the edge of extinction and the chance of sighting one front of mind for many of those travelling to India, it can only be hoped that continued visitors will help increase awareness of the issues facing this majestic creature.

Gorillas were next on the animal agenda, with 12.1% of those questioned choosing them as the animal they’d most like to see on a wildlife holiday, followed by the Giant Panda which drew 10.6% of votes.

With a new generation of intrepid TV presenters inspiring would-be explorers of all ages to be more adventurous with their holidays, it seems there¡¦s still a long way to journey before travel stalwart Michael Palin is ousted from the nation’s heart. Over a third of those polled (37.5%) chose Palin as the TV adventurer they’d most like to travel with, leaving Ray Mears (13.5%) and Ranulph Fiennes (12.7%) in his shadow.

And it¡¦s not just adults who are increasingly drawn to exploring further afield, with the results indicating that families are increasingly adding adventure to their ‘holiday homework’. When parents were asked which corners of the world they would most like to take their children on holiday to, India’s combination of wildlife, culture and stunning landscapes ensured it topped the list for a fifth of families (20.9%). East & South Africa came second (17.7%) and Latin America third (14.3%), while Europe was left in sixth place, having attracted just 11.3% of votes.

Wilson added: “TV coverage over the last few years has certainly helped make adventurous escapes and active breaks seem more accessible. While it’s an accepted truth that travel broadens the mind, age shouldn’t be a barrier to travel. It¡¦s therefore especially encouraging to see more and more parents taking advantage of the school holidays to swap deckchairs for backpacks and, supporting this trend, The Adventure Company has seen a 49% growth in family adventure holidays over the last five years.”