New Year's Eve in Iceland
It may be celebrated a little differently in 2021, but traditionally the Icelandic New Year is a winning combination of delicious food, family togetherness, and the timeless joy of blowing things up.
To celebrate like a local, start your evening with a special meal, then around 8:30pm it’s time to take a stroll to the nearest bonfire. (In 2021, as in 2020, there will be no public bonfires due to COVID-19 measures.)
As the evening progresses, you’ll hear the gleeful bangs of fireworks as kids get impatient for midnight—except for a quiet hour at 10:30pm, as the whole nation tunes into the TV show Áramótaskaupið, a satirical review of the year’s events. Want to check it out? You can watch it worldwide (with English subtitles) via RÚV TV online.
Then when the clock strikes 12, it’s on: over 500 tons of fireworks are unleashed, blanketing skies in a frenzy of light and color.
The local Search and Rescue teams sell fireworks in the lead up to New Year’s Eve as a fundraiser for their much-loved organization, so Icelanders buy up big, and it shows.
Rug up warm to watch the glittering illumination of the capital from atop Öskjuhlíð hill, or by Hallgrímskirkja.
Text by Carolyn Bain and Sarah Dearne.
Banner photo by Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson / Visit Reykjavík.
This article appeared in Icelandair Stopover magazine, fall 2019.