The Northern Lights show during the aurora tourist season in Churchill, Manitoba.
Alan Dyer—VW PICS/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the aurora borealis, you’re in luck this year, as solar activity heads toward a peak in its roughly 11-year cycle. One of the best spots to catch the northern lights is this remote Hudson Bay outpost, which sits just below the “auroral oval,” meaning the sky often dances to life in even just-fine conditions—over 300 nights a year. Winter aurora-hunting has opened up a whole new tourist season in a town that has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its visitors during the fall polar-bear migration. The massive carnivores remain big business, of course, and to get travelers (safely) up close and personal with them, Frontiers North Adventures recently unveiled its electric Tundra Buggy®, a behemoth with 6-ft. tires that cruises over the ice at barely a whisper.

But polar bears aren’t the only big white animals to make Churchill special: thousands of belugas enter these waters in the summer, and tour companies are finding new ways to introduce travelers to these famously vocal “canaries of the sea.” Frontiers North partnered with marine biologist Valeria Vergara, who studies “language” acquisition in baby belugas (aww!), on its new Conservation Journey itinerary, while Lazy Bear Expeditions is set to unveil its newest catamaran, the Matonabee, featuring 12 underwater windows for getting face-to-melon-head with the inquisitive cetaceans.

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