Icelandic Culture
23 December 2020

Celebrating New Years Eve in Iceland in 2020

Are you staying in Iceland over the new year? Normally we’d welcome you to take part in the fireworks, bonfires, and parties, which are quite the attraction. In fact, every little town has its own celebration. But, in the crazy year of 2020 it will all be toned down we suppose. You can still expect a relatively glorious evening filled with fireworks and excited people if you stay in Iceland over New Year's eve but you should keep your distance obviously.

Here’s what’s normally the highlights of New Year's Eve in Iceland:

bonfire

Bonfires are a must

Many Icelanders feel they can't celebrate New Year's properly if they don't go to a bonfire. All over the island, you can find a bonfire on the evening of 31st of December. They are usually lit around 20:00-22:00, so make sure you eat dinner beforehand. There is often a fireworks show near the bonfire, so make sure to look at the sky rather than just at the beautiful flames. Don’t be scared if it’s noisy, everyone’s just so excited so there’s a lot of party chatter and the occasional firework.

fireworks

Fireworks are a big deal in Iceland on New Years Eve

You might have heard that every family in Iceland buys their own fireworks and lights them together. And you would have heard right! Everyone over the age of 16 can buy fireworks for New Year's eve. Most of the firework sales are held by the Icelandic search and rescue teams. The teams are run by volunteers who help people all over Iceland by responding to emergencies and natural threats. Most of their income comes from their firework and Christmas tree sales so make sure to buy from them if you intend to purchase your own fireworks!

hands holding sparklers

On New Year's eve, Icelanders emerge from their homes after the yearly comedy show Áramótaskaup around 23:30 to start lighting the fireworks for real. Of course, there are fireworks shot up before that but just around midnight is the peak of the evening. The fireworks light up the whole sky since everyone wants to “blow the old year up in the air” like we say. We bid farewell to the old year and hello to the new with enough fireworks to blow Reykjavík up. Then it's off to New Year's parties or concerts or to go clubbing. There is no New Year's like Icelandic New Year's! We hope you get to experience it.