Icelander's really know how to bring in the new year!

It’s almost time for New Year’s Eve! Iceland goes all out on this special holiday, with fireworks, bonfires and reveries. Winter is well underway in Reykjavik, blanketing the streets of this colorful city in snow. Businesses are closed, and grocery stores shut rather early. A handful of restaurants stay open to attract the tourists who trickle in this time of year. They come to Iceland for the Northern Lights, and marvel at the bright and fiery end of the year.

NEW YEAR’S DINNER

Traditionally, Icelanders spend quality time with family and close friends this evening. They prepare home-cooked dishes and usually it is something families make every year on new year‘s eve, often it is turkey, beef or wild game that the family hunts. Since New Year’s is a family holiday, it’s extremely uncommon that Icelanders dine out in restaurants, and historically pubs and cafes shut their doors early in the evening. Today, however, more and more restaurants stay open for longer hours, due to the influx of tourists. Thanks to Iceland’s popularity these days, we recommend that you book a reservation if you have your eye on a specific place, things get filled up quickly.

New Year's is a family celebration in Iceland!
New Year's is a family celebration in Iceland!

 

BONFIRES

After Icelanders gobble up the homemade dinner, they bundle up in their warmest and head out to the bonfire. Reykjavik has a longstanding tradition of lighting huge bonfires all over the city. Starting around 8:30pm, flares light up gigantic pyres, crowds gather, friends chat, and occasionally, sing together. Children run around with sparklers and small flares. The number of bonfires are different each year, usually ranging around eight or ten. The practice dates back at least to the Middle Ages, when fishermen would clean out their houses to greet in the New Year. They’d burn all their old things they couldn’t use in a massive fire. These days, Icelanders gather around to meet their friends, drink, and symbolically burn away the old year. There is usually one out by Ægissíða, in the southwest part of town, a short walk from Lake Tjornin. This is one of the bigger and popular fires, located right on the beach. Or you can try your luck out near Seltjarnarneskirkja Church, where you can grab a cup of hot chocolate. Just be sure to dress warmly! Check out this picture on our Instagram from last years bonfire!

At Reykjavik bonfires crowds gather & friends chat. Children run around with sparklers and small flares.
At Reykjavik bonfires crowds gather & friends chat. Children run around with sparklers and small flares.

 

TELEVISION

Another, distinctly Icelandic, tradition is the TV show Áramótaskaupið. This sketch comedy show starts at 10:30pm and is an hour long satirical summary of the closing year. Close to 90% of Icelanders turn on their TVs to watch this show; it’s the most anticipated TV event in the nation. Comedians mercilessly mock politicians, artists, activists, and businessmen who made the headlines. And the talk of the New Year’s Day is always, first: What did you think of the Áramótaskaupið? You can choose to tune in, but you might not understand it unless you speak Icelandic. You might be interested in joining a local family for a drink or two on this evening, Eskimos offers a New Year's local experience. Send us a mail and get more info.

Join a local family for a drink or two and get some insights into their traditions as the streets fall silent while other Icelanders watch Áramótaskaupið!
Join a local family for a drink or two and get some insights into their traditions as the streets fall silent while other Icelanders watch Áramótaskaupið!

 

FIREWORKS

Normally illegal in Iceland, on New Year’s Eve you can purchase fireworks from ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue. It’s a worthwhile cause; ICE-SAR is a fantastic volunteer organization that completes more than 1200 rescues each year. This is the only time of the year that they can raise funds and update their rescue equipment, so don’t hold back in your purchases. They sell at least 500 tons of fireworks annually.

Fireworks start blooming around 8pm, quieten down from 10:30pm to 11:30pm (see section above), then explode again just in time for midnight. Try to be in a prime position to view these dazzling celestial fires. Öskjuhlíð Hill and Perlan are great vantage points—from there you can see 360 degrees around the city. Eskimos offers guided tours on New year's eve, that takes foreign travelers around for the best places to view fireworks, including dinner, local bonfire and a visit at a locals place.

Wherever you are, be sure to bring your camera. There are few places on Earth with such an astonishing fireworks display; this is the reason you’ll remember this night as the highlight of your trip to Iceland.

Bonfire and Fireworks!
Bonfire and Fireworks!

 

FESTIVITIES

Next, it’s time for the party! After midnight hits and the fireworks show is well under way, Icelanders fall into two camps. They either stay at home and enjoy a house party, or go out and party with the tourists and expats. A few (but not all) bars and pubs stay open until 5am–check the local magazines for special happenings.

You won't believe it until you see it!
You won't believe it until you see it!

 

Looking for Luxury!

If you are looking for even more exclusivity and luxury, this Exclusive New year's packages might be something for you. It sells out really quickly each year so book in good time! 

Looking for more Luxury - Well Tower Suites might be your thing!!
Looking for more Luxury - Well, Tower Suites might be your thing!!

 

New Years in Iceland

If you can’t make it this year, don’t despair! You can watch the live feed from Reykjavik ringing in the New Year. Tune into Iceland Naturally a few hours before midnight for the live feed straight from the capital. But don’t forget to book your New Year‘s packages with Eskimos for next year—New Year’s in Reykjavik is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It‘s never to early to start planning for next year!

Are you joining us for NYE in Reykjavik? What are your plans?

These two packages below are just a glimpse of what we can do, let us help you plan your New Year celebration in Iceland!

Check out our Amazing New Year's Packages

This is just an example of what we can do, send us mail and find out more!

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