Northern Lights in Ireland 2020: Your Guide to Seeing the sky above Ireland Sing

One for the bucket list

the milky way from ireland
By Adam Rory Porter

Yes, you can see the Northern Lights in Ireland. In the guide below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to see them for yourself.

You won’t find the greatest show in the world on Broadway.

And you won’t find it in London’s West End.

It’s not airing at 9 p.m. on HBO and you don’t have to board a plane to check it out.

The Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis are visible from Ireland. So, the chances are, you can soak up the greatest show on earth a stone’s throw from your house!

In the guide below, you’ll find:

Love seeing things that are a little bit different? Check out our guide to where to go in Ireland: 113+ places to visit in Ireland (if you love hidden gems and secret spots).

The Northern Lights in Ireland

northern lights ireland
Photo by Chris Hill

So, you don’t have to travel to Iceland to see the lights in all their glory (although you can, if you fancy).

Over recent years, thanks to strong solar wind activity, explorers have been able to gaze open-mouthed at the magnificent Northern Lights in Ireland.

If you’ve been dreaming of seeing this natural wonder then the guide below will take you through everything you need to know.

The Northern Lights in Ireland 2020 – Photos to get you Dreaming

Here’s a little taste of what you can expect if you are lucky enough the catch the Northern Lights in all their glory.

Each of the below photos was taken in the magnificent County of Donegal.

If you’re thinking about visiting Donegal, check out our 3-day Donegal road trip guide that’s packed with the best things to do in the county.

1 – Aurora Borealis over Lagg Church, Malin Head on the Wild Atlantic Way

aurora borealis ireland
Photo by Michaell Gill via Tourism Ireland

2 – The Skies Smiling above Tra na Rossan Beach in Co. Donegal

northern lights ireland
Photo by Rita Wilson via Tourism Ireland

3 – A Splatter of starts above Fanad Head Lighthouse

fanad head lighthouse northern lights
Photo by Rita Wison via Tourism Ireland

4 – The Northern Lights shining over Malin Head

northern lights donegal
Snapped by Adam Rory Porter via Tourism Ireland

5 – Shrove Lighthouse on the Stunning Inishowen Peninsula

where to see the northern lights in ireland
Shot by Michael Gill via Tourism Ireland

6 – A Front Row Seat on Dooey Beach

northern lights in ireland
By Rita Wilson via Tourism Ireland

7 – Aurora Borealis over Linsfort Church at Malin Head

aurora borealis donegal
By Adam Rory Porter via Tourism Ireland

Where to see the Northern Lights in Ireland

So, the photos above will give you a fair indication of where exactly you’ll have to go to see the Northern Lights, but here’s a full breakdown.

The most consistent places in Ireland to check them out according to these lads are all in Donegal.

the milky way from ireland
The Milky Way and Aurora Borealis in the sky over Urris by Adam Rory Porter via Tourism Ireland

The best places to see the Northern Lights in Donegal

  • Malin Head
  • Dunree Head
  • Fanad Head
  • The Rosguil Peninsula
  • Glencolmcille
  • Sliabh Liag

Naturally enough you’ll need to wait until after dark. You’ll also want to be as far from light pollution as possible.

How to know when Aurora Borealis is visible in Ireland

ireland northern lights
Photo by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

So, here’s where it gets interesting…

And a little confusing.

northern lights checker

  • Step 1 – Head on over to this website
  • Step 2 – Flick down to the section of the page shown in the image above
  • Step 3 – look at the Kp value – this will tell you how likely it is that the Aurora Borealis will be visible.
malin head northern lights
A Perfect Spot to kick-back and take it all in at Malin Head
By Michael Gill via Tourism Ireland

Ah here, what’s this Kp craic all about?

The Kp is a number from 0 to 9 which refers to geomagnetic activity (don’t ask me what this means…).

If the number is 4 or above, then that’s a good sign – hop in the car and head North after dark, but make sure the skies are clear in advance.

If the Kp is less than 4 then it’s unlikely that the Northern Lights will be lighting up the sky.

Northern Lights Alerts

If you’re really keen on seeing them and want to take your monitoring a step further, download this monitoring app.

What it does

  • Find the current KP index and how likely you are to see the Northern Lights in Ireland or the rest of the world.
  • View a list of the best locations to view from right now.
  • Map showing how strong the aurora is around the world, based on the SWPC ovation auroral forecast.
  • Free push notifications when auroral activity is expected to be high.

The best part of all is it’s completely free of charge for all functionality and there are no in-app purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions about seeing the northern lights from Ireland

We originally published this article back in 2017.

Since then, we’ve been getting emails each week from people looking to see Norther Lights during their visit to Ireland.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve received:

Can you see the Northern Lights in Ireland?

Yes, you can. But the conditions need to be just right in order for them to be visible. If you follow the steps in the guide above you’ll be well on your way to seeing Aurora Borealis in Ireland.

Where can I see the northern lights in Ireland?

There’s a number of different places in Ireland to see the Northern Lights. According to Tourism Ireland, the best place to see them is from County Donegal.

Have you managed to have a gander at the Northern Lights? Or are they on the bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

18 COMMENTS

    • Ashley – you are the first person EVER to comment on an article here 🙂

      Thank you! I hope you get to see them in person! If not there’s heaps of other great things to check out to keep you occupied.

      Keith

  1. I am thinking to try watch north lights in Donegal between October – December 2020. How is possible to watch them for who istravelling alone and dont know to drive ? Is there some agency tour there? Thanks

  2. Is there a certain season or month that is best for seeing the Northern Lights? I plan on going to Donegal Town end of November and I would love to see them while there. How far are any of these spots from the town?

  3. We visit Donegal twice a year. It is always Nov. and then in the spring. Can’t wait to follow your directions to see the lights!
    Kathleen

  4. Saw the Northern Lights several years ago travelling back from Waterford to Wexford early hours of the morning. They seemed to follow us for miles lighting up the sky. Spectacular.

  5. As someone who lives in Donegal and likes to photograph the Northern lights here, I would like to advise on a couple of things this.

    First, the northern lights will not look as spectacular as you see on the pictures, the camera will pick the colours up brighter and far more vibrant.
    Having said that I have witnessed decent displays in the past by eye.

    Also be careful when using KP index as an indicator for seeing the aurora, sometimes it can be high but you might not see anything at all, a good app to check is something called Glendale skye auroras which give live aurora reports.

  6. The Northern Lights would be spectacular but just to see the magnificence of The Milky Way gives me goose bumps. To think that my grandmother, her siblings, parents and countless generations of Donegal ancestors would have seen that gives me a feeling of awe and deep seated connection to them!

  7. I’ve read in the news that the Aurora will be showing itself from tonight for three nights. I really do hope i get to see the magic.
    Where is the ideal place to be in Malin Head to see it? Is there an exact time for it? It’s about an hour and a half drive from where I’m at to Malin.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.