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Chad Blakley standing on a small island on the Abisko River Delta in Abisko National Park. September 23rd, 2013.
Chad Blakley standing on a small island on the Abisko River Delta in Abisko National Park. September 23rd, 2013.


Chasing the Nordic lights

Meet Chad Blakely who runs Lights over Lapland, a company that provides all inclusive magical experiences.

When Missouri-born wedding photographer Chad Blakely met Linnea, his soon to be Swedish wife, in 2009 they decided to temporarily move to Sweden. Today they live in Abisko, a small Sami village about 195 km north of the Arctic Circle, from here they run Lights over Lapland, the world’s leading Aurora photo experience travel company.

”When you sit at a high point and look out at a vista and you see nothing but beauty in any direction you look, when the sky is absolutely crystal clear in the night and you see the stars, the Milky Way, constellations and auroras, it's almost like you’re looking at a higher power. The small becomes large and the large becomes small and all of a sudden when you least expect it, you see this green neon light. It magical, says Chad Blakely.”

A powerful aurora dances above the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park.

Future career in astrophotography

Being raised in the sweltering climates around the Southern Tier states and spending a lot of time outdoors in the overbearing heat when young, Blakely had always wanted to live in colder climates, and as if by fate he ended up living in the freezing temperatures of northern Sweden. One day during his first year in Abisko, he walked home from his night job as a dishwasher at the STF Abisko Tourist Station, when he all of a sudden saw his first glimpse of neon lights dancing in the sky. The Nordic lights had worked its magic on Blakely pulling him into a future career in astrophotography.

Chad Blakley at an interview for NBC news September of 2014.“We started to offer Nightly Aurora Photo Tours with Lights over Lapland in 2011 and on our very first tour opening, it just happened to be the biggest sun storm in ten years, which I got on video called The Aurora Borealis Experience, he tells us. The next day National Geographic, BBC & Fox News picked it up and millions of people saw it.”

Magic in the sky

In 2012 the company started to gather pace, aurora tourism blossomed in Abisko and the Blakely couple’s successful entrepreneurship started to get noticed by local and international media. As the company started to grow there was a knock-on effect, tourists needed accommodation which the Abisko Tourist Station could offer. They’ve been in business for four years now during which their company and the number of tourists have grown exponentially; this Blakely modestly takes credit for.

“People from abroad want to experience the ‘magic in the sky’, but it’s really an all inclusive package, they also get to see beautiful landscapes and taste Arctic delicacies. We love what we do and we want to make people happy. This is a dream job.”


Text: Derya Aktas

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