Why celebrate the New Year in Iceland
New Year’s Eve? The fun has gone to Iceland where you can celebrate with massive fireworks that last all night
- New Year’s Eve is the time of year when Iceland lifts its ban on fireworks
- In Reykjavik, the fireworks start at 8 p.m. and parties are held all over the city
- Rooms at stylish hotels such as Reykjavik’s colorful marina are from £120 a night
Each week, our holiday hero, Neil Simpson, takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the groundwork so you don’t have to. This week: New Year in Iceland.
It might be freezing cold, but Reykjavik is the scorching spot for New Year’s Eve, thanks to a series of fireworks displays that last all night and raise lots of money for charity.
“Our fireworks are a local tradition that holidaymakers love, especially when they hear the reason why,” says Arny Palsson of the Berjaya Hotel Group, which has six hotels in Reykjavik and six others on the Circle tourist route. Gold around the island. .
The story began in the 1960s, when volunteers from the Icelandic Search and Rescue Association started selling fireworks between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is illegal to set them off at any other time in Iceland, to ensure they are not mistaken for emergency flares. The pop-up stands were a success and now generate a huge share of the charity’s income.
Rocket enthusiasts: Reykjavik is famous for its New Year’s Eve fireworks. Pictured are the fireworks above Hallgrimskirkja Church
Palsson says most locals feel it their duty to buy at least one can of rockets between December 28 and 31 (holidaymakers often buy sparklers, known as ‘star-lights’ ). And with 600 tonnes of gunpowder sold on New Year’s Eve, Iceland claims to set off more fireworks per person than anywhere else in the world.
In Reykjavik, the first rockets go off around 8 p.m. and parties are held across the city rather than in a central display. From a high vantage point like the grounds of the historic Hallgrimskirkja church, you’ll have 360-degree views and can see fireworks until the early hours.
Dozens of holidays also have bonfires: Icelandic folklore says that watching a bonfire burns away bad memories of the past 12 months.
While temperatures can drop to minus 4°C at night, the New Year period remains a fantastic time for Icelandic holidays. Above is the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular attractions
While temperatures can drop to minus 4°C at night (and remember there may only be four hours of sunshine a day), the New Year period is still a fantastic time for Icelandic holidays. .
The waters of the Blue Lagoon and the new Sky Lagoon are warmer when the air temperature drops and are magical in the snow. Since most of the country’s energy is geothermal and green, the hotels are warm, there’s hot water in the bathrooms and no one skimps on the Christmas lights, which stay on until the end of the day. twelfth night.
December and January are also good months for the Northern Lights. The Reykjavik Excursions group offers a range of expert-guided excursions, most with small groups heading to likely viewpoints by coach, car or even boat. There are also tours that begin with a relaxing soak in a geothermal bath and sauna complex and end with a midnight “light hunt.” Tours from £65 (re.is).
Visitors to Iceland in December and January have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights
Above is the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, which has an “elegant” restaurant
The food scene in Iceland is also in vogue, with Michelin-starred chefs riding the ‘Nordic wave’ to win Michelin stars. Book early for New Year’s Eve: top picks include Dill, Grand Brasserie, Hedinn and The Fish Company. The elegant restaurants of the new Hafnartorg gallery and the Harpa concert hall make it easy for guests to combine culture and gastronomy.
Watch five-night tours that include fireworks in Reykjavik and trips around the Golden Circle past waterfalls, black sand beaches, boiling mud pools, glaciers and geysers. From £799 pp plus flights (islandunlimited.est).
Discover the World offers a range of options, including a five-night self-guided volcanic explorer with lava field excursions. From £668 pp plus flights (discovery-of-the-world.com)
Icelandair, British Airways, easyJet, Wizz and newcomer Play offer direct flights from London from around £150 return. Rooms at stylish hotels such as Reykjavik’s colorful marina cost from £120 per night (berjayahotel.com)