Winter skies

Aurora & Astronomy in Churchill
Immerse yourself in our magnificent

Northern Lights

Upcoming Learning Vacations

Six days I 24 spots I $2669 CDN
March 16 to 21, 2023

Located directly beneath the aurora oval, Churchill is the best place on Earth to view the aurora borealis. We record auroral activity more than 300 nights a year, and our winter skies are especially stunning!

Your days will be packed with authentic experiences with a focus on local history, culture, and the natural world, while your nights will come alive with the spectacular Northern Lights.

Each evening, your instructor will present an engaging lecture on topics related to the aurora (like photography and the science of the aurora). Then, sit back and relax until you receive the call that nature’s awe-inspiring show has begun.

Take photos of the winter skies from the safety of our elevated outdoor viewing platform, or marvel at the sky inside CNSC’s heated indoor viewing dome (pyjamas welcome). Since there is virtually no light pollution at the CNSC, which is 23 km outside of town, the views are even clearer and more enticing.

Find out why astronomers and physicists have journeyed to Churchill to probe the upper atmosphere with cameras, balloons, and even rockets. 

Sample Itinerary

Orientation
Test your gear, get set up with rentals, and settle in

Green Building Tour
Take a compelling journey through the history of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre and its environmentally friendly 27,000 sq. ft. LEED-certified research station.

Current Research Presentation
Hear all about the critical research being done at the CNSC and the impacts it could have.

Dog sledding
Learn about the history and philosophy of dog sledding in Churchill from a local musher as you experience it first-hand

Rocket Range Tour
Take a guided tour of the Churchill Rocket Research Range National Historic Site – built in 1954 – and learn about its ties to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.

Movie Day
The Snow Walker (2003) is a movie based on a Farley Mowat short story and filmed on location in Churchill.

Winter Ecology Presentation
Learn about the plants, animals and landscape that surround us, and how the organisms adapt to such incredibly cold temperatures.

Subarctic Outdoor Adventure
Spend some time outside learning about different snow structures used for survival. Stay warm by cutting blocks in the snow to build an Inuksuk.

Churchill and Area Tour
Visit the Itsanitaq (Eskimo) Museum, where you will listen to an interpretive tour and spend time looking at various Inuit carvings and artefacts while learning more about Churchill and Indigenous history. At the Parks Canada Visitor Centre, you will have an interpretive tour and further learn about Churchill’s history.

Cultural talk with elder

Farewell
We’ll transport you back to the train station or airport and make sure you’re set up with our photo sharing app so you can keep in touch with your new contacts.

See the Northern Lights from the comfort of your home with help from Explore.org! This live camera is located at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.

Late winter and early spring are the best times for the aurora, so be sure to stop in during nighttime hours in February and March.

Why choose a Learning Vacation?

Notable experts

Your group's guide will be with you for the duration of your visit, providing insight and information every step of the way. Plus, your guide will provide engaging, in-depth lectures every evening, allowing you to develop a genuine connection to the subject.

Northern Appreciation

Each Learning Vacation features a mix of scientific, cultural, and true-to-Churchill activities, ensuring that your visit is fun, educational, and authentic. You will hear unique perspectives from members of the Churchill community as they share their skills and knowledge with you.

Convenience & Affordability

At the Centre, we provide all essential services, including high quality meals, housekeeping, gear rentals, and transportation within the town. Plus, our communal accommodations help keep costs competitive. Once you book your Learning Vacation, the only other thing to do is arrange your travel to Churchill — and we can help.

Exclusive location

The Centre is located inside the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, about 23 kilometres outside of town. From the safety of our outdoor viewing platform, you'll get some truly wild views of local species, like migratory birds and a variety of terrestrial mammals. And before bed, don't forget to keep your eyes on the sky from the warmth of our indoor Aurora dome.

contribution to research

Your participation will also have a major impact on subarctic research, since you'll be helping to provide scientists with an affordable, accessible location to continue their valuable work. As an independent, registered non-profit research station, the CNSC invests all revenue into its mission to understand and sustain the north.

at the Centre

Your Learning Vacation includes accommodations, on-site meals, tours, activities, lectures, and travel within Churchill.

Guest rooms accommodate four people in bunk beds, with individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves, and individual reading lamps. We provide all linens, including bed sheets, comforters, and towels. Separate female and male washrooms have toilets, sinks, and private showers.

The building is equipped with top-of-the-line wireless internet.  Local calls can be made from the Weston Family Welcome Lounge.  Please note that cellular coverage is unreliable at the CNSC.

Your financial contribution has a major impact. Not only does it cover the costs of running the Learning Vacation, but it also allows us to provide researchers an affordable, accessible location to continue their valuable work.

Frequently Asked Questions

About winter skies

Fees for Winter Skies are $2,669 CDN in 2023. This covers accommodations, on-site meals, tours, activities, and lectures, and travel within Churchill.

A non-refundable deposit is due upon booking.

For monthly payment options, please contact our finance department.

Your financial contribution has a major impact. Not only does it cover the costs of running the Learning Vacation, but it also allows us to provide researchers an affordable, accessible location ( board, lab space, equipment, access to the north) to continue their valuable work.

Plus, each guest will receive CNSC membership for one year, ensuring you can stay up-to-date on all our activities. 

At time of booking, a 20% of the total trip fee is due immediately. This deposit is non-refundable, except in cases of trip cancellation due to low registration numbers (see Refund Policy).

Payments for Learning Vacation bookings are due 60 days before the start of the trip. Bookings made within 60 days of the Learning Vacation will need to be paid in full.

Click here to see the full Learning Vacation Payment and Cancellation policy.

In the event that you need to cancel or reschedule your trip for personal reasons, your deposit will not be refunded. If you cancel 120 days or more before the Learning Vacation, you will receive your full payment, less the deposit.

If you cancel 119 to 60 days before the start of the Learning Vacation, you will receive 50 per cent of your payment.

Payments for trips cancelled 59 days or less before the scheduled start date will not be refunded.

Click here to see the full Learning Vacation Payment and Cancellation policy.

-survey, membership, apply to be a volunteer now that you know us!

Churchill is accessible only by train and airplane. ViaRail and Calm Air offer regular return service from Winnipeg to Churchill. We are happy to help you figure out schedules if you need it.

Once you arrive in town, we will pick you up and get you settled in at the Centre.

You will be assigned a room within the CNSC for the duration of your stay.

Guest rooms accommodate up to four people in bunk beds, with individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves, and individual reading lamps. We provide all linens, including bed sheets, comforters, and towels.

Separate female and male washrooms have low flow toilets, sinks, and private showers. Washing machines are available every evening.

The building is equipped with top-of-the-line wireless internet. Local calls can be made from the Weston Family Welcome Lounge. Please note that cellular coverage is unreliable at the CNSC.

The Centre has a small gift shop which carries postcards, stamps, books, CNSC brand clothing, locally made jams and jellies, and other souvenirs.

Yes! Once you book, we will send you a Welcome Package that includes a packing list for each season. And if you need anything while you’re here, we have a selection of gear available to rent.

You can also see our General Information and packing list.

We will do our best to accommodate you, provided you give us ample notice of your needs.

All Learning Vacations

Winter Skies

February & March

Winter Skies

Six days

Immerse yourself in the magnificence of the Northern Lights.
MORE INFO

Spring's Wings

June

Spring's Wings

Five days

Enjoy bird watching opportunities in Canada's subarctic.
MORE INFO

Belugas in the Bay

July & August

Belugas in the Bay

Six days

Get up close and personal with hundreds of belugas.
MORE INFO

Lords of the Arcitc

October & November

Lords of the Arctic

Six days

Polar bears in their natural habitat along the Hudson Bay.
MORE INFO

Winter Skies

February & March

Winter Skies

Six days

Immerse yourself in the magnificence of the Northern Lights.
MORE INFO

Spring's Wings

June

Spring's Wings

Five days

Enjoy unique bird watching opportunities in Canada's subarctic.
MORE INFO

Belugas in the Bay

July & August

Belugas in the Bay

Six days

Get up close and personal with hundreds of belugas.
MORE INFO

Lords of the Arcitc

October & November

Lords of the Arctic

Six days

View polar bears in their natural habitat along the Hudson Bay.
MORE INFO