Imagine dining beneath the northern lights with an exquisitely curated, multi-course menu that features regional and local fare. This is Dan’s Diner, a remote culinary adventure like no other.
The sun is just above the horizon and you can feel the temperature dropping as we board the Tundra Buggy® at Fifty Eight North. We climb up the stairs to board this massive, custom-built machine typically used for polar bear viewing, which will transport us across the river to the opposite snow-steeped bank. These heated, washroom-equipped machines have tires over 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall which allow us to navigate the rough, frozen terrain of the Canadian subarctic. Once we’re seated, our knowledgeable Tundra Buggy Driver introduces themself before we begin our journey.
As we trundle across the Churchill River the Tundra Buggy Driver points out local points of interest. For me, a Canadian history buff, this is the most exciting element of this trip! At one time, this area was a post for the Hudson’s Bay Company to trade furs with the Dene, Cree and Inuit nearby. The nearby Prince of Wales Fort was constructed in the European “star” shape with walls 6.5 metres (21 feet) tall and 11 metres (36 feet) deep over a 40-year period in the early 1700s.
It’s hard to imagine what early explorers and the men of the Hudson’s Bay Company would have experienced while living and working in this harsh, subarctic environment. Once we arrive at Dan’s Diner, we are welcomed as we get out of the cold.
It’s -35 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees Fahrenheit) and as we step outside the Tundra Buggy® the crisp air threatens to bite our cheeks but is just as quickly forgotten as we enter our warm, safe haven for the evening: a one-of-a-kind, pop-up restaurant.
The panoramic windows and skylights overhead offer a nearly unobstructed view of the surrounding snow and skyscapes. Our hosts set the first course before us, part of a meticulously curated menu inspired by this storied place, featuring regional delicacies from the land and sea.
The wind picks up, rocking the diner as if begging for our attention. Inside, however, the atmosphere is warm and the air filled with delicious scents, clinking glasses and laughter.
Jared Fossen is our chef tonight at Dan's Diner. He's also head chef at the Tundra Buggy Lodge in autumn.
After a delicious meal we exit Dan’s Diner and step outside. It’s dark except for the lights from the restaurant and Tundra Buggy. We once again board the Tundra Buggy and our driver takes us away from the restaurant so we can have the best view of the northern lights. Our driver explains that Churchill lies directly beneath the auroral oval, making it one of the best places on earth to see the awe-inspiring aurora borealis. The most likely time to experience northern lights in Churchill is January through March due to long nights and semi-arid conditions resulting in clearer skies.
Lucky for us, the sky is clear tonight and chances for northern lights are very good. Some people stayed in the warm Tundra Buggy, looking for northern lights out the window and on the open-air back deck. I climb down onto the frozen ground with others from our group and look up at the sky. Someone gasps as we begin to see the first twinkle of green lights. I sit back and watch in amazement as Mother Nature puts on one of her best shows.
We arrive back in Churchill via Tundra Buggy, satisfied and sleepy.
There was something magical about the Dan’s Diner experience that will stick with me forever. I still can’t believe just a few, short hours ago I was dining beneath the northern lights near the frozen shores of the Hudson Bay.
Secure your seat at Dan’s Diner remote culinary experience by booking your spot on select Frontiers North Northern Lights and Winter Nights trips. Experience all Churchill has to offer during prime aurora borealis season. This adventure includes the full Dan’s Diner remote culinary experience, a Frontiers North Interpretive Guide, round trip transportation to Churchill from Winnipeg, accommodations, all meals, dog sledding, cultural programming, snowshoeing and more.
Join the Adventure
In the evening, you will meet at Fifty Eight North in Churchill where an official Tundra Buggy will pick you up. Once on board, you will travel across the Churchill River to Dan’s Diner where you will enjoy a spectacular meal in the warmth of our unique, pop-up restaurant. The restaurant features panoramic windows and skylights overhead so you may be able to catch a glimpse of the northern lights during your meal, weather dependent.
After dinner, you will once again board the Tundra Buggy and slowly meander back across the frozen Churchill River to the town of Churchill.
You will be transferred back to Fifty Eight North after northern lights viewing.
Watch the culinary experience at Dan’s Diner in autumn when it forms part of our exclusive Tundra Buggy Lodge.
Looking for Individual tickets?
Your individual ticket includes round-trip transportation from Fifty Eight North - Home of the Tundra Buggy in Churchill to Dan’s Diner for the full culinary adventure experience.
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