celebrate new year’s, iceland style

- enjoy an all night fireworks display in reykjavik on new year's eve -

– enjoy an all night fireworks display in reykjavik on new year’s eve –

if you’re in iceland at new year’s or are planning to be in future, just know that most icelandic folk celebrate the occassion with a splash of the traditional and a dash of the new which makes it quite an eventful day to savour.

here’s a quick rundown of what the nation’s capital city usually does to ring in each brand new year.

  • MASS & DINNER – as soon as the evening sets in, the celebrations kick off with a mass at reykjavik’s cathedral, which is broadcast over local radio that almost every icelander will be tuning into. this is then followed by a new year’s dinner amongst friends and family. gobble! gobble! nom! nom!
  • COMEDY SPECIAL  – after that, locals will most likely be sitting back and enjoying aramótaskaupið or literally translated “the new year’s comedy”. it’s an annual icelandic television comedy special broadcast by public television network RUV, formerly known as sjónvarpið. it’s a look-back at the nation’s biggest events of the year in which no one is spared a roasting, including politicians, prominent businesspeople and other elite members of local society. it’s real fun with lots of sketches and spoofs galore. here’s one i found on youtube from 2006 which spoofs ‘south park”s opening titles.
  • BONFIRE & FIREWORKS – after the aramótaskaupið special, residents of each of the city’s quadrants gather round a large bonfire or “brenna” to watch an all-night fireworks display over the city. the bonfires are huge, so play it safe and don’t attempt to show off your fire-walking skills or anything of the sort yeah? 😉
  • - a bonfire in reykjavik on new year's eve -

    – a bonfire in reykjavik on new year’s eve –

  • AFTER-PARTY PARTIES – after the fireworks, all hell breaks loose over the bars and pubs of reykjavik as revellers cap their new year’s eve off with more drink and food. the merry celebrations can last up to the wee hours of the morning or as long as the live bands are still performing.

new year’s eve can be one of the longest nights of your life but in reykjavik, the colder it gets, the harder one should party.

just don’t say we didn’t warn you, eh? 😉


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