Christmas and New Years in Iceland

If you’re coming to Iceland for the last two weeks of December, there are a couple of things you should know, so that you can prepare and don’t miss out!

Let’s start off with Christmas. Icelanders celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. They eat with their family and open the presents in the evening. Many convenient stores are open until 12pm-2pm, but the majority is closed. The biggest problem could be the 25th. On the 25th, most Icelanders spend time with their families. Therefore, almost all the stores will be closed the entire day, so make sure to prepare if you need food. Restaurants and stores downtown are the best bet.

The thing you don’t want to miss though, is the Icelandic New Years Eve. The same applies to the 31st of December as to the 24th. Most convenience stores will be open until about 2pm, while other stores are closed. On the 1st of January, expect to find very few stores open.

But what exactly is happening on the 31st?
Well, during the evening, all Icelanders eat with their families and loved ones. After dinner some sit and chat, while others watch the news which show a summary of events that happened over the year. Following that there is a TV program that almost every single Iceland resident watches. It is called “Áramótaskaupið”. It’s a sketch show that pokes fun of events that have occurred over the year. Political, business, weather, it doesn’t matter. The show finishes about 20 minutes before midnight. Don’t expect to see an Icelandic soul out and about during the program. This is your window of opportunity though, you have to find a spot that has a good view before the clock strikes 12. Make sure to be wearing good clothes, because it will be cold and you don’t want to have to run inside and miss out! Because, at 12 am they start blowing up fireworks and this is the part that you don’t want to miss!

Thousands of fireworks paint the sky all the colors you can imagine. Illuminated by the colors, Icelanders hug each other and kiss, wishing a happy new year and a prosperous new year. We highly recommend you do the same. This is their way of saying goodbye to the old year and welcome the next. After about 20-30 minutes or so, people go back inside, some go out to party, some like to stay inside and have a little bit of cozy time. If you’re looking for a party, downtown is again a good place to be.

So don’t miss out on New Years eve splendor if you’re coming to Iceland over the holidays!

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