• Fireworks over Reykjavik

A Happy New Year in Iceland

As parties go in Iceland there is probably none bigger than New Year's Eve. Icelanders go all out on food, drinks and fireworks. Some celebrate just with their family but others invite their friends over for a night of partying and watching fireworks. 

After dinner many to go to a New Year's Eve bonfire (most start around 8:00-8:30 PM) where people meet, greet, sing and shoot up the occasional firework. Bonfires are held in every town in Iceland but in Reykjavík there will be ten, not counting the nearby bonfires of neighbouring towns Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, Garðabær and Mosfellsbær.

Fireworks light up the sky and the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland The dark sky is a perfect canvas for fireworks. Photo: Laufey Gudmundsdottir, from WOW moments

In most houses the TV will play a great roll all through the day albeit mostly as background noise. Politicians get to shine during the daytime on various talk shows and around dinner there are news chronicles from the year. This all ends with the annual New Year's Eve pantomime (Áramótaskaup), an hour-long comedy program ridiculing the year's highlights. You can hear when the show ends (at about 11:30 PM) because at that time everybody rushes into their warm clothes, runs outside and starts blasting fireworks as a farewell gesture to the old year. This home-made show of explosions goes on for almost an hour, reaching its high point at midnight. It is a spectacle talked about throughout the World and those who have seen it never forget it. It's not too late to book a flight to Iceland for New Year's Eve!
After midnight many Icelanders gather at parties or go clubbing where some drink the night away, often until the early hours of the morning! Understandably there is not too much activity on New Year's Day, but since it's also a holiday some people go to fancy gatherings or parties in the evening all dressed up and dance the night away.

A farewell to Christmas
If you miss out on New Year's Eve in Iceland you get a second chance a few days later. Having just dealt with the aftermath of Christmas and New Year's Icelanders tend to be rather calm during the first days of January but on the 6th they say goodbye to Christmas as the last of the 13 Yule Lads leaves town. Many use this day to take down the Christmas decorations and serve the last of the cookies and candy. Various sports teams throw a Thirteenth day of Christmas Bonfire with a firework show during the evening. It is common to see all kinds of elves, trolls and Yule Lads entertaining children and grown-ups at these gatherings but unlike the New Year's Eve bonfires there is usually an admission fee, the bonfire being a great part of the teams fund raising.