‘A place where I felt feelings I never knew I had’- that’s how I would describe Iceland. In the lead-up to our afternoon departure, I had planned our days as meticulously as possible, wanting to make sure that we didn’t miss any opportunity. Yet, from the minute we arrived, we were truly in an adventure that I would never have been able to imagine, let alone plan: welcome to Iceland.
New Year’s Eve in Iceland and ICE-SAR
When celebrating New Year’s Eve, it is a struggle to top the manic party of Iceland. We were lucky enough to watch fireworks on our snowmobiling trip but Reykjavik in no way paled in comparison. Returning from the trip, the locals had already started their celebrations. Traditional bonfires (brenna) burned bright and fireworks lit the Reykjavik skyline, despite it still only being 8pm. In Iceland, families purchase fireworks from ICE-SAR (the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue). All of the proceeds go towards top-notch equipment for the volunteer group to carry out successful rescues- so a fantastic display awaits you for an amazing cause! We were dropped off around the corner from our Guesthouse and, in high spirits, we anticipated the notorious night ahead.
In the thick of it!
We wanted to be in the centre of the festivities, so we walked to the square in front of Hallgrímskirkja church. The streets of Reykjavik were magical, with quaint buildings, decorations and fireworks. On New Year’s Eve in Iceland the streets get busier as Áramótaskaup finishes (a traditional comedy show that 90% of the Icelandic population watch on NYE, where comedians round up the year’s events). People all around us let off fireworks; catherine wheels and sparklers were everywhere we turned. Merrymakers let off fireworks out of their hands and helped young children set them off, smiles everywhere. When it hit midnight, being amongst the fireworks rather than simply watching them from afar was so exhilarating. If you celebrate New Year’s Eve in Iceland, make sure that you immerse yourself into the crowds at the square! The atmosphere is electric and the thrill will stay with you!
At around half past midnight, the locals flocked to Reykjavik’s many bars to party to the early hours. Naturally, we followed suit. If you’re planning a night out in Reykjavik, I’d recommend buying alcohol tax-free at the airport and pre-drinking at your hotel. We saved so much money doing this! At each bar we went to, everyone was in high spirits. We really enjoyed ‘Den Danske Kro’ where the Icelandic locals were so friendly and inviting. To top off an incredible night, we took a long walk on the frozen-over Tjörnin Lake, trying to somehow take in everything that we had experienced so far in just one night and day, before remembering we only had three hours before we needed to wake up for our next trip!
My Top Tips:
- Purchase drinks tax-free at the airport to save money (drinks in the city are quite pricey!)
- Go to the church square to experience the festivities close up- it really is an experience you will never forget
- Chat and cheers with the locals- Skál!
- Go on a bar crawl rather than only experiencing one place
- Be ready to party to 6am onwards! Oh and take a walk on the lake to wind down at the end!
What is your favourite New Year’s Eve experience? Have you celebrated New Year’s Eve in Iceland? I would love to hear your stories, please leave a comment below! You can also read my top tips for visiting Reykjavik here !