Win the Wonders with 'The Right Hook' and MasterCard: The Northern Lights and Iceland

The northern lights convey a sense of being at the very edge of the world and getting a rare glimpse into the endless universe we are all just a tiny part of

The vivid beauty of the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, has become far better known in recent times as the swathes of green and violet illuminating the sky sometimes even reach Donegal.

The best views, naturally enough, can be seen in the Arctic, in Canada, Alaska, or the Nordic. But Iceland, our island neighbours – of sorts – offers the most spectacular. Mostly because when you’re not staring at the Technicolor palette dancing through the air, you’ll be staring in disbelief at the stunning environment back on earth. And now with MasterCard and Newstalk offering you the chance to visit it, an unforgettable journey awaits.

The Right Hook and MasterCard have joined forces on an incredible on-air competition. Every day, contestants will be asked to come up with seven things from a chosen category, all the while racing against the clock. Each day two listeners will qualify for the finale, with the 20 finalists battling it out in a Where in the World-style quiz. When the dust settles, one winner will have earned the chance to create some priceless memories, visiting some of the world’s greatest wonders.

Seeing the Northern Lights comes with its own challenges, something which is common to the majority of the world’s priceless experiences. Brightest and most spectacular in the bitterly cold Icelandic winter, there’s a good chance that the remote roads will be closed. But with a bit of luck, the conditions will be right for the buses and minivans that depart Reykjavik on Aurora safaris, stalking the icy tundra for the best vantage points from which to witness the Northern Lights.

Icelandic lore believes the celestial displays are caused by fearless swans flying so far north that their wings get caught in the ice, with their brazen attempts to break through resulting in the shimmering sky. The science doesn’t quite follow suit, with physicists knowing it’s down to gases expanding and contracting in a heady dance with charged particles. But standing in the freezing air, wrapped up warm, sipping hot chocolate, your eyes wide in wonder, it’s hard not to get swept away by the myths.

Priceless memories will also be made in Reykjavik, the world’s most northerly capital city. By international standards, it’s compact, but its cheerful combination of colourful buildings, engaging locals, meticulous design, thrilling nightlife, and fresh air packs a mighty punch. And it’s the perfect base from which to see everything Iceland has to offer – like the beloved Blue Lagoon, the world-famous geothermal spa. Visitors dip into the warm waters, rich in silica and sulphur. The pale blue pool leaves you feeling reinvigorated and does wonders for your skin.

But regardless of what you do in Iceland, an unforgettable experience is guaranteed.

Where to Stay:

  • Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
  • Hotel Holt
  • Hotel Leifur Eiriksson
  • Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
  • Storm Hotel

Where to Play:

  • Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik – An absolute must see, best viewed from the onset of autumn to the late nights of spring
  • Hallgrímskirkja – The capital’s iconic concrete cathedral shoots up from the city, visible from as far away as 20km
  • Blue Lagoon Spa – The ultimate in relaxation and a wonderful reward after a late night spent staring at the Aurora Borealis
  • Kolaportið Flea Market – Pick up a few bargains and Icelandic staples, including fermented shark, at the weekend market
  • Mál og Menning – Reykjavik’s most famous bookstore is home to an impressive collection of English-language copies from a nation where one in 10 people is a published author

Where to Eat:

  • Ostabúðin – As local as Icelandic cuisine can get, it’s best to enjoy the fresh seafood with a giant slab of their homemade bread
  • Café Flóra – Tables here are nestled among the Botanic Gardens, where some of the ingredients are cultivated
  • Þrír Frakkar – This cosy joint has developed a cult following in the global foodie community, boasting Jamie Oliver as one of its biggest fans
  • Laundromat Café – A Danish haunt that combines a delicious brunch with the opportunity to do some laundry in the basement
  • Súfistinn – A fantastic café that’s a bit of a gem, you’ll spot locals chatting, reading, and playing chess while sipping on coffees and eating delicious sandwiches

With thanks to MasterCard and Newstalk