Glowing fairy lights, burgeoning buffets, crazy firework displays and other festive traditions make Christmas and New Year a magical time to visit Iceland’s capital city.
The main day of celebration is Christmas Eve (24 December), although the celebrations start much earlier. By late November, streets and buildings are illuminated with Christmas lights and people start frequenting traditional Christmas buffets at the many restaurants in Reykjavík.
On 29 November the lights will be lit on a large Christmas tree at Austurvöllur square in the city centre, accompanied by music and a visit by the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads (Door-Slammer, Spoon-Licker, Candle Beggar and others).
There is plenty on offer for visitors at this charming time of year. Shop for some unique gifts, check out the Christmas-themed exhibitions, visit quaint Christmas markets for some local handicrafts and explore the winter landscape around Reykjavík. Of course, a traditional Christmas dinner at some of Reykjavík’s best restaurants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is something not to be missed.
In Reykjavík, the final day of the year goes with a bang! On New Year’s Eve, locals gather at bonfires after a festive dinner, to meet friends and be merry. At midnight a spectacular display of fireworks takes place, with the whole population of the city making its own massive fireworks show from their garden or some vantage point.
As a visitor you can dine at one of Reykjavík’s many restaurants and join in the celebrations by taking a New Year’s Eve tour, or finding your own way to one of the city’s bonfires and viewpoints for the midnight spectacular. After midnight, the bars and nightclubs are open for business, with dancing and celebrating going well into the morning.