Fire Rainbow – The Greatest Thing You Will Ever See In Your Lifetime

fire rainbow in vienna

Fire Rainbow are probably one the rarest thing you will see in your lifetime, if you’re lucky. So forget any sunset you have ever seen or the Northern Lights, fire rainbows are more amazing than all those put together! I was fortunate enough to see this with my very own eyes, on my last trip to Vienna. There is nothing more amazing than this in the world!

Travel the world with me! Join over 300,000 readers and get updates, travel tips, giveaways and more in the Vanilla Sky Dreaming monthly newsletter!
*We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

rare circumhorizontal arc - Fire Rainbow


After seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, I got back to my room and googled images of “The Northern Lights in Iceland”. While looking up photos, to see what others experienced in their past travels to Iceland, I stumbled upon something odd. It was a crazy looking cloud, in the colors of the rainbow, next to the sun! What on earth was this thing? I clicked the images because it looked completely photoshopped! What was it? A Circumhorizontal arc also known as a “Fire Rainbow”.

How on earth can the clouds turn into a rainbow in the sky?! I searched for some more photos, read about it and decided THIS is going to be the next thing to see after the Northern Lights! It was way more RARE to see than the Northern Lights! Who would have ever thought, my dreams would come true only 5 days later! It’s a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

Fire Rainbow in Vienna Sky

What is a Fire Rainbow/Circumhorizontal arc?!

It’s an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. The halo is so large that the arc appears parallel to the horizon, hence the name. Brightly colored fire rainbow occur mostly during the summer and between particular latitudes. When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering flat, hexagon shaped ice crystals gets split into individual colors just like in a prism. The conditions required to form a “fire rainbow” is very precise – the sun has to be at an elevation of 58° or greater, there must be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle. This is why fire rainbow is such a rare phenomenon. Basically not the “easiest” thing to see. (Source: Amusing Planet and Wikipedia)

what is a fire rainbow



January 10th started off just like any other day, only it wasn’t!

I woke up, had my coffee, well…I guess not exactly like everyday, because I don’t normally drink coffee, but was up until late the night before, editing photos. I got dressed, had my breakfast and got a tour of the beautiful Meliã Hotel. I headed out to the city center, to try and figure out what I wanted to see and do. I got on the city tour bus, like I usually do. It always gives me a better idea of what the whole city looks like and where everything is at. Only this time, I was completely annoyed by the city tour bus.

The windows were dirty with rain drop stains and I couldn’t see a single thing. The tour also made some odd stops and I was losing my mind and patience and started getting sleepy. So when it finally made a stop back in front of the Opera House, I got off and decided to start sightseeing on foot.

vanilla sky dreaming in vienna

I walked around and started exploring the beautiful city of Vienna. There were crazy winds that day, which was another reason I took the bus originally. They were SO strong that they made it very hard to walk. Some locations and streets were closed off, due to light stands and huge Christmas decorations falling all over the place! I was just happy because this was the FIRST day of my trip, that there was actual SUN! After 2 weeks of not seeing the sun, anyone would be excited!

fire rainbow


Now let’s be honest, most people don’t like to stare straight at the sun. It’s clearly not good for you, it’s bright and hurts your eyes. I, on the other hand, am a different story…I LOVE looking at the sun straight in the eye! It’s clearly not the smartest thing to do, but I just think it’s so damn beautiful! So I normally don’t wear sunglasses, I love the sun light and don’t mind being blinded by it. However, on this day, I decided to bring them along with me and they changed my life that day!

I was exploring Vienna, mostly with my back facing the sun. I visited a few historical monuments like the Naturhistorisches Museum and Maria-Theresien-Platz. When I was done taking pictures and exploring that area, I returned to my original spot and that’s when I saw it! A Fire Rainbow/Circumhorizontal Arc!!!

I was SPEECHLESS! I nearly cried!

I have never EVER, seen something so beautiful in my entire life!!!

Fire Rainbow sky in Vienna - Circumhorizontal Arc


The sky was a baby blue color, the sun was shining so bright and the clouds around it were changing colors with a mixture of pink, purple, yellow, orange, green, aqua and blue! It was a Vanilla Sky and it was INSANE!

I was so excited and blown away, I didn’t know what to do with myself! The funny thing was, if I took off my sunglasses, I couldn’t see a thing because the sky was just SO freakin bright! So here I am on the streets of Vienna, jumping with excitement by myself and NOT A SINGLE PERSON, could see what I was seeing!!! Hundreds of people were passing by and NO one was seeing this! I asked a random girl off the street, if she could take a picture of me and she said sure! Then I asked her if she can see it, she said with confusion “See what?!”, as if I am crazy! I gave her my sunglasses and she was shocked! She couldn’t believe her eyes either and started getting just as excited as I was. 😉

a rare  Fire Rainbow photo of a Circumhorizontal Arc

I stood in the same spot for probably an hour and couldn’t get my eyes off of it, I just didn’t want to leave! When was I ever gonna see something so magical and mystical in my life again?!

It looked like that color you get when you mix soap with water and make bubbles.

fire rainbow sky like bubbles


Convincing myself to leave that spot and see the rest of the city, was hard. But luckily for me, that sky followed me throughout the rest of the day and I enjoyed it till the very last second, at sunset. It never disappeared all day, not even for a second, in comparison to the Northern Lights — that only last a few minutes or seconds.

The next day the sky went back to normal, as if nothing ever happened, sadly enough.

This world has so many amazing and mystical things about it, it’s almost hard at times to wrap your head around it. This day in Vienna has changed my life forever. I really hope to one day again, experience a fire rainbow sky.

So for now I’ll keep staring at the sun because you never know when the magic will happen again…

amazing fire rainbow in the sun

Here is some footage I made for you guys, from the Fire Rainbow/Circumhorizontal arc:

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube page for more awesome videos from around the world.

Click here: Vanilla Sky Dreaming YouTube Channel



4 Responses to Fire Rainbow – The Greatest Thing You Will Ever See In Your Lifetime

Leave a reply