Why August Is A Magical Month in Churchill, Manitoba
Sitting on the shores of Hudson Bay, Manitoba’s northern town of Churchill is an amazing place to visit.
Every season has something to recommend it: in the summer, it is beluga season with thousands of the quirky white whales flooding the estuary of the Churchill River; in the fall, as the ice begins to form, it is polar bear season, the best time during the year to see the giant predators in the wild; in the winter, the long and dark nights make this a spectacular season for viewing the Northern Lights; and in the spring, Churchill is a magnet for migrating birds so this is the best time to come birdwatching.
But what if you wanted a chance to see it all?
Well, then you’d need to visit Churchill in the magic month of August. During these rare few weeks in late summer, it is possible to see belugas in the water, polar bears on shore, birds overhead and the skies are getting dark enough to see the Northern Lights. And to add to the magic, the landscape is awash with wildflowers, including the magnificent magenta fireweed and orange lichen.
Of course when it comes to nature, weather and wildlife, there are no guarantees in travel. At Landsby, we like to plan itineraries that are fulfilling and memorable no matter what elements nature throws at us. Read on below for more details about visiting Churchill in August.
If you need more convincing on why this northern destination should be on your bucket list, be sure to read our post on the Top 5 Reasons to visit Churchill.
Where is Churchill?
First, the basics. Churchill is situated approximately 1,000 km north of Winnipeg, at the mouth of the Churchill River. There are no roads between Churchill and Winnipeg, so the most popular ways of getting here are by airplane and train.
Located on the 58th parallel, Churchill is in the subarctic, meaning that the terrain is mainly tundra and the temperatures range from very cold in the winter to mild during the short summer.
Why Visit Churchill in August?
Come for the Belugas!
As noted above, summer is prime beluga-whale-watching time in Churchill. In June, nearly 60,000 of these adorable creatures make their way to Hudson Bay to feed, mate and give birth. Of those, 3,000-4,000 come to the Churchill River estuary and can be easily spotted on whale watching tours. By September, the whales are once again on the move out of the area.
Come for the Northern Lights!
The best time to see the Aurora Borealis — or Northern Lights as the phenomenon is commonly known as — is November to March when the skies are darkest and clearest. However, the Northern Lights dance above Churchill 300 nights of the year so it is still possible to see them during a summer trip. In August, the skies are starting to get dark earlier but you might still have to stay out late for a chance to catch them. As with anything, it takes clear skies and good space weather (strong geomagnetic activity), but it is possible! And the milder temperatures make nighttime viewing more pleasant.
Come for the polar bears!
Seeing polar bears, the largest land predators in the world, is always a thrilling experience. Seeing them set against the bright pink fireweed is extraordinary! Polar bears are abundant in Churchill during the fall months as these typically solitary bears gather in groups on the shores of Hudson Bay waiting for the water to freeze so they can go hunting for seals. But the bears spent the summers on shore and can be spotted napping in the meadows or having a swim in the water.
Come for the birds!
While birdwatching may not be the reason you travel to Churchill in the summer, the variety of species available to see can be breathtaking. Spring may be the best time to view the hundreds of migrating species, but summer is still a great time to catch a glimpse of some of the 200 migrating and nesting birds that come through this region every year.
Ready to go?
Check out our Ultimate Arctic Summer Adventure which takes you through Winnipeg to Churchill on an unforgettable 7-day journey.
*All photos courtesy of Travel Manitoba