A small fishing village near Whitby has been revealed as one of the UK hotspots to see the Northern Lights this winter.

Sandsend located in the Scarborough district featured among the likes of Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear where people could be in for a chance to see the dazzling light show in the sky throughout the season.

It comes as motoring experts at LeaseCar.uk have revealed a total of seven locations for star-seekers to set their sights on the rare aurora display.

Other areas include spots in Scotland, Ireland and even further south in Wales.

Why is Sandsend one of the UK's best places to see the Northern Lights this winter?

The experts said: “Yorkshire has been treated to the Northern Lights in early December with photos being taken from back gardens.

“The lack of street lights in Sandsend makes it easier to spot the colourful lights without them being covered by artificial lighting.”

For those who wouldn’t mind a winter road trip, the Northern Lights were also spotted in Whitley, North Tyneside in October this year.

Many photos were taken near St Mary’s Lighthouse.

7 UK and Ireland hotspots to see the Northern Lights this winter

  • Lake District, Cumbria
  • Isle of Anglesey, Wales
  • Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
  • Shetland Islands, Scotland
  • Donegal, Ireland
  • Whitley Bay, North Tyneside
  • Sandsend, North Yorkshire

Tim Alcock, motoring expert from LeaseCar.uk, commented: “The Northern Lights can only be described as one of the most beautiful sights to ever lay your eyes on.

“While you can’t just look out of your window and hope the lights will appear, there are some locations in the UK and Ireland that have higher chances of them showing such as Wales, the Shetland Islands and Yorkshire.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience witnessing the Northern Lights so we highly recommend making the most of the darker nights to view the breathtaking display.”

What are the Northern Lights and why do they happen?

The lights we see in the night sky are caused by activity on the surface of the sun, reports Royal Museums Greenwich.

“Solar storms on our star's surface give out huge clouds of electrically charged particles. These particles can travel millions of miles, and some may eventually collide with the Earth.

“Most of these particles are deflected away, but some become captured in the Earth’s magnetic field, accelerating down towards the north and south poles into the atmosphere. This is why aurora activity is concentrated at the magnetic poles.”

Royal Observatory astronomer Tom Kerss explained: “These particles then slam into atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere and essentially heat them up.

“We call this physical process ‘excitation’, but it’s very much like heating a gas and making it glow.”

The website adds: “What we are seeing therefore are atoms and molecules in our atmosphere colliding with particles from the Sun. The aurora's characteristic wavy patterns and 'curtains' of light are caused by the lines of force in the Earth’s magnetic field."