New years eve in Reykjavík is like nothing you have ever experienced. Here’s our top five suggestions for rining in the new year in Reykjavík.
1) Stock up on fireworks
Icelandic people take their fireworks on new years very seriously. There are probably two things that sets us apart from the rest of the world when it comes to fireworks on new years eve: 1) The sheer amount of fireworks we blow up and 2) the size of the fireworks you can get your hands on.
It’s the bomb (pun intended)!
I recommend you buy your fireworks from any member of ICE-SAR (Icelandic Search and Rescue) as this is their single most important fundraising method and they work very hard, without getting paid, to keep us safe. In the downtown area, you will usually find them selling their stuff across the road from the Icelandair Natura Hotel, in Grandi (the old harbor area) and next to the Vesturbæjarlaug swimming pool.
Make sure you buy some sparkles and flares as they are important for the next part of your night: the bonfire.
2) Go to a bonfire
After dinner on the 31st many families, especially those with children, go to a bonfire. There are a few of them around town and probably the biggest one and the most convenient to get to for tourists is the bonfire in Ægissíða. As you stand there and admire the big fire, you will probably hear people singing traditional new years songs and you can see big fireworks show from bonfires in neighboring towns across the water (Ægissíða is right next to the sea).
At the bonfire, you light some sparkles and flares and wave them around, even though on the inside you’re not quite sure why exactly you are doing that. When in Rome-avik and all that.
Please be advised that lighting of fireworks is not allowed at the bonfires – you need to save that for later in the evening.
Download info provided by Visit Reykjavík about bonfires in the city of Reykjavík on December 31st, 2016.
3) Watch the Áramótaskaup
Ok, first: a full disclaimer. You are probably not going to enjoy this as much as we do.
The Áramótaskaup is an hour long comedy show that airs every New Years Eve at the exact same time and everyone in Iceland watches it. No seriously, EVERYONE. It makes fun of the events that happened over the year and for the first few days of the new year, it’s all that people talk about. They talk about what they liked, how it compared to previous years and then it’s also very popular to discuss your all time favorite Áramótaskaup or the worst sketches in history.
If you want to make friends later in the night I recommend you try to make sense of at least one joke in the show and use it as a conversation starter if everything else fails. Guaranteed crowd pleaser.
4) Find a cool place to watch the fireworks
I’ve written a few times before about new years eve in Reykjavík and then I have always recommended to people to watch the fireworks either at Hallgrímskirkja or The Pearl because of the atmosphere.
Last year we went to Hallgrímskirkja and I’m not sure I will do that again anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, it was a blast – the mostest of funs actually – but it was also super crowded and I’m just not sure that getting thousands of people that don’t know how to handle fireworks (read: tourists), drunk on Kool-Aid and champagne, together all in the same place with fireworks that are banned in most countries is such a smart idea. It was basically a beautiful disaster waiting to happen.
If you have a car and you’re not looking for the atmosphere at Hallgrímskirkja (and you don’t plan on drinking) I would suggest you just find a good view point and enjoy the show. I promise you, it will be way crazer than anything you have imagined.
Party till morning
I have to level with you, I never party or drink on new years eve. I don’t drink much to begin with but I just never feel that urge of going all out on this particular evening. There’s just too much pressure. And I’m old. And I hate being hung over.
Except last year. Last year I drank all the alcohol. And then didn’t leave bed until January 3rd. Literally ALL the alcohol. The group of people I was with was just so damn cool and we danced the night away in hiking shoes and snow pants (it was snowing a lot on midnight and I hadn’t planned on going out). The last parts of the night (morning more like it) are a bit hazy but I believe in the end the boyfriend had to bribe me with a sweaty burger to keep me from going to an after party I’m not entirely sure I was invited to. I just didn’t want the fun to stop. My sisters, who were sober and with us that night, have made relentless fun of me for that evening ever since. Oh well.
Although many bars are actually closed on new years eve it’s still possible to have a lot of fun in the few bars that are open. And then it’s the after parties. Just make sure you are actually invited.