Not all remote islands are sunny and subtropical. The archipelago of Svalbard is situated north of Norway, about as near to the north pole as any sane person is willing to sail. But that doesn’t mean it’s deserted: there are daily flights landing near Longyearbyen, the largest town on the main island of Spitsbergen, which is also home to hotels, museums, schools, a hospital, several cultural centres and institutions, and a campus for university students studying abroad. This Arctic town is known for its views of the Northern Lights. The modern Svalbard Museum chronicles the region’s natural and cultural history. Live bears can occasionally be seen in the area.
The sun sets each year for the very last time on October 25th and it will not rise above the horizon again for four months. The sun officially returns to Longyearbyen on March 8th, when it is finally high enough above the horizon to illuminate the steps of the old hospital. Solfestuka is a week long celebration to welcome the return of the sun and the entire town gathers on the steps of the old hospital at precisely 12:15 to await its arrival.
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