Ringing In The New Year in Iceland

Ringing In The New Year in Iceland

Leah BIlquist Leah BIlquist
22. Dec 2022 ∼ 8 min. read


New Year's Eve is a special holiday that ignites a celebration throughout the world. It is time that allows us to reflect on the past year, while also being grateful for so many things in our lives. From New York City to Paris, there are parties all over the world. 

Reykjavik is known to be one of the liveliest places to ring in the new year, thanks to Icelanders loving a good celebration! Celebrating this day truly helps us appreciate our health, loved ones, and everything in between. We are going to talk about the best places to Ring in the new year in Iceland!


Warm Up At A New Year's Eve Bonfire

Iceland celebrates New Year's Eve properly, by hosting multiple New Year’s Eve bonfires. The best part is, you are more than welcome to join them by attending one. The bonfires are also known as Áramótabrennur and they have been held in Reykjavík for more than 200 years. 

There are at least 10 bonfires in Reykjavík and around 90 throughout the entire country. You can find them getting lit around 8:00 PM and lasting until 11:00 PM. 

There will be a map of the bonfires closer to New Year's Eve or, you can also find them by just driving around. Some well-known areas from the past few years are Skerjafjörður, which is usually lit at 9:00 PM or 21:00. Suðurhlíðar, below the Fossvogur valley cemetery, is usually lit around 08:30 PM or 20:30. You can also stop by Seltjarnarnes at Valhúsahæð when they light the fire around  08:30 PM or 20:30. Úlfarsfell by Lambhagavegur will start around 3:00 PM or 15:00. Mosfellsbær by Leirvogur which is down from the Holt area is lit around 08:30 PM or 20:30. 

These are all customs to change, but you can ask locals in the area if they know the times for this year. 

Reykjavik Bonfire Iceland

Listen To The New Year’s Addresses

Every year Iceland’s prime minister and the president will give an address on New Year's Eve. They do this instead of giving speeches on Christmas. They will highlight the past year and provide messages of positivity as we head into the new year. The speech will take place in the early evening hours before the celebration kicks off. This is a tradition in Nordic countries, which is why Iceland also follows it. Tune in, and enjoy the messages of hope and inspiration for the year to come. 

Watch "Áramótaskaupið"

Another Iceland tradition is watching the famous Áramótaskaupið, also known as the ‘New Year’s Skit’. This annual Icelandic television comedy special is broadcasted on New Year's Eve by the state public service broadcaster RÚV. Icelanders normally take a break from the bonfires and go home around 10:30 PM to be able to watch the show. The show ends just before midnight, giving Icelanders plenty of time to get set up for the midnight event.

The hour-long comedy show first aired in 1966, and features parodies about both people and events from the past year. They will poke fun at Icelanders and people from all over the world. It is a funny show that reminds you to not take not life too seriously. Chances are if you are out and about on New Year's Eve you will hear locals talking all about the show. It truly is an event the whole country watches, so partake if you can!

Watch The Firework Shows

Nothing goes better with New Year's Eve than a firework show. Luckily for us, Icelanders love to shoot them off during this holiday. Fireworks are normally illegal for most of the year in Iceland but on New Years Eve the fireworks you will see are sold by Iceland’s Search & Rescue Teams. It is known to be the biggest fundraiser of the year for them. Fireworks are only legal in Iceland from December 28th until January 6th, so support a great cause while illuminating the sky.

You can expect to see fireworks anywhere from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Then everything will go a bit quiet while everyone watches Áramótaskaupið. But don’t worry, because from 11:30 PM to midnight the sky will be filled with gorgeous firework displays. 

There are plenty of places you can view them too, including the streets of Reykjavik. You can also spot them from the Landakotskirkja Church or Hallgrímskirkja Church. Both places will provide exquisite views of the whole sky. The hill at Öskjuhlið by Perlan is another fantastic place to watch them. You may even see some Icelanders lighting off fireworks from here too.

You can also take your rental car to Grotta Lighthouse, which is about a ten minute drive from downtown. There is no light pollution there, so you will be able to see the fireworks in the distance. 

New Year's Eve Fireworks Cruise

Enjoy an evening of viewing the fireworks from the water by taking the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise.  You will leave Reykjavik´s Old Harbor at 11:00 PM with professional sailors before viewing the Fireworks Display in Reykjavik. Then return to shore a half hour after midnight. The ship has a warm indoor saloon as well as an open-air deck for you to enjoy the show. 

Your cruise will even include a complimentary glass of champagne right before midnight and you will celebrate the New Year together from the sea. Cheers to that! The cost of the cruise starts at $143.20, quite a steal for such a unique opportunity. 

New Year's Eve Run

End the year on a good note by participating in the New Year's Eve run! Every year the track and field club of Reykjavik celebrates New Year's Eve by hosting the 10K run. The annual 10K run, held in downtown Reykjavík, attracts both seasoned runners and new runners of all ages. 

The race is held on December 31st and starts at noon. The start is at Sæbraut outside of Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. The course will bring you along the serene Icelandic coastline. It has become a tradition for runners in Iceland to end the year with this fast 10K run. Many participants will dress up and run in costumes too, so be sure to go all out if you do attend. There is a special prize awarded to the most unique costume too! 

This year there will also be a 3k Fun Run for those wanting to take on a shorter route. You can register in advance to save yourself a spot!

New Year's Eve Run in iceland

Reyjavik’s Party Scene

Reykjavik has a crazy party scene at bars on New Year's Eve! You will find that most bars will close down around midnight and reopen at 1:00 AM. The party then continues to the wee hours of the morning, normally until 5:00 AM. You can walk around downtown to see which bars are open. The streets will be filled with celebration as you enter the New Year!

Most Icelanders will have huge house parties where they light off fireworks. If you are lucky enough, you may even get an invite to a true Iceland afterparty! 

Party With Wake Up Reykjavik

Speaking of parties, this year Wake Up Reykjavik is hosting one exciting New Years' Eve celebration and you can join! Their New Year's party will be hosted at one of the hottest lounges in Reykjavík, The Petersen Suite. Which sits in a historic building and is a party hot spot in central Reykjavík! The rooftop bar and lounge are known for their two-floored terrace that offers a spectacular 360° view of the city.

The party icks off at 10:00 PM! Since most bars in Reykjavík don’t open until 1:00 am on New Year’s Eve, this is a special opportunity. A variety of drinks are included including a welcome drink, a drink voucher valid for a selection of drinks at the bar, an Icelandic shot, and champagne at midnight. The price is a steal at 15,500 ISK or $100. This is a great option for those traveling solo or in groups that want to party the night away with Icelanders!


New Years Day

On January 1st the country shuts down for the day since New Year's Day is a national holiday. This day is also a public holiday, so locals will spend the day resting, recovering, and relaxing. Since most Icelanders will be staying home on January 1st, which means it could be a good day to visit waterfalls or other tourist activities! Take a drive along the Golden Circle, visit one of Iceland’s Waterfalls or relax at a hot spring.

The infamous Blue Lagoon is open on New Year's Day as well. Soak your troubles away, all while reflecting on the year to come.


FAQ

Is Iceland good for New year's Eve?

Yes! Reykjavik is known to have one of the best parties in the world for New Year’s Eve.

What happens on December 24th in Iceland?

Icelanders celebrate official Christmas at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve, which is December 24th