Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Iceland

From fireworks to comedy shows, 5am parties to the aurora borealis, check out our guide to Iceland’s New Year celebrations.

November 15, 2022

Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Iceland

From fireworks to comedy shows, 5am parties to the aurora borealis, check out our guide to Iceland’s New Year celebrations.

November 15, 2022

Iceland may be small, but the New Year’s celebrations here are mighty. For one night of the year, the sky above Reykjavik is illuminated with the spiralling brightness of fireworks. Pops, whizzes and bangs can be heard throughout the night in towns and villages across the island, reaching a crescendo for the countdown to midnight. Perhaps you want to stay in the thick of it, and party with the people of Reykjavik, or head out on a cruise to witness this spectacle from the sea. New Year can be a great time to go hunting the Northern Lights. If you’re visiting Iceland to see in the end of the year, we’ve got plenty of tours and activities for New Year’s in Iceland. Read on to find out why you should choose Iceland for your New Year festivities.

How do Icelanders celebrate New Year's Eve?

For such a small country, Iceland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations pack a powerful punch. As wintery darkness falls on the 31st of December every year, the people of Reykjavik (and towns and villages all across the island) take to the streets to let off fireworks. Wandering through the capital, you’ll hear the crack and whizz of fireworks throughout the night and spot them blooming against the night sky from street corners and parks. Kids carry sparklers in gloved hands and the night culminates in a huge crescendo of fireworks at midnight.

There’s a lull in activity around 10.30pm when Icelanders return to their homes to watch the annual comedy show Aramotaskaup, or Skaupid for short. It means The Spoof and is a comedy round-up of all the things that have happened in Iceland over the year. Nearly every Icelander watches it and talks about it the next day.


A week before New Year’s Eve, check out what an Icelandic Christmas looks like


NY 8

Did you know that there is not one, but thirteen Santa Clauses in Iceland’s Christmas traditions? That every year a book flood takes place and that a sock-stealing Christmas cat stalks the streets of Reykjavik? Browse our selection of things to see and do at Christmas in Iceland for some inspiration.


Reykjavik New Year's Eve

The capital and biggest settlement in Iceland, Reykjavik’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are the largest in the land. In the greater Reykjavik area, there are usually around fifteen bonfires blazing against the night sky. These are places for folk from the neighbourhood to gather, greet each other and keep warm while watching the fireworks. Bonfires tend to be lit around 8.30pm and last until 10.30pm (when most people head home to watch the annual comedy show).

NY 4

It may be in Icelandic, but anyone visiting Iceland at New Year should watch the 50-minute comedy sketch show making fun of everything that happened in Iceland throughout the year. It’s called Áramótaskaup, which means The Spoof, and is what Icelanders will spend the next few days talking about – which sketch they liked best, who got made fun of and whether it was better or worse than the previous year’s show. It’s on at 10.30pm on Iceland’s original TV channel.

Across the city, you’ll see people letting off fireworks on street corners and in parks, alongside official, organised firework displays. In Reykjavik, locals like to set off fireworks by Hallgrímskirkja Church, and Klambratún and Landakotstún parks. Anyone can let off fireworks on New Year’s Eve, so it’s a good idea to go out with a pair of protective glasses on if you’re walking around the city. One of the best places to see the New Year’s fireworks in Reykjavik is Öskjuhlíð hill, which the Perlan sits atop.

New Year's Eve tours in Iceland

With all the jolly chaos and liveliness across Iceland on New Year’s Eve, joining a guided tour on the day itself is a good idea. Guided by locals, you can really get under the skin of Iceland’s traditions with one of Reykjavik Excursions’ New Year experiences.

NY 2

On the Reykjavik bonfire tour, join a local guide to experience the ultimate New Year tradition in the capital. Stopping at a few different bonfires across the city, you can join families as they celebrate around a two-story bonfire with live music playing in the background and sparklers in hand. It’s a New Year experience you’re unlikely to forget.

If you want to watch the spectacle of Reykjavik’s New Year fireworks from the water, perhaps the New Year’s fireworks cruise is the option for you. Seeing the colourful explosions reflected against the water is doubly as impressive as on land. Plus, you get a complimentary glass of bubbly to toast in the New Year at midnight.

New Year’s Eve is considered a night of magic and mystery in Icelandic folklore – a night when the elves come out to play. Embrace Icelandic tradition and folklore on the magic and mystery at New Year tour. Hear tales of the dead rising in an atmospheric graveyard before heading to the elf stone for an aura of magic. There’s a stop to buy fireworks and see in the New Year with a sparkler in hand with your new friends on this small group tour.


Deepest, darkest winter sees a blanket of snow cover Iceland as the Northern Lights dance against the night sky


NL 6

The nights are long and the temperature dips below freezing, but there is something particularly magical about spending deep winter in Iceland. Tumbling waterfalls morph into icy cascades, the mountains boast a dusting of snow, ice caves open up on glaciers and there’s the best chance to spot the Northern Lights. Find out why you should visit during the colder months with our guide to visiting Iceland in winter.


Tours & activities around New Year's in Iceland

The days around New Year are a great time to embrace Iceland’s wintery landscape. If you’re visiting this little island to experience our New Year celebrations, you might want to fill the days either side with some experiences that really embrace the winter wonderland in December and January.

There’s no denying that the sights of Iceland’s Golden Circle are an essential experience for any visit. In winter, you can combine the classic stops at Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park with a session spotting the Northern Lights against the dramatic landscape outside of the city. Or, embark on a Northern Lights tour straight from the centre of Reykjavik. With a professional, experienced guide, you’ll find the best spot to see these ethereal lights dancing against the night sky and you’ll have some help capturing that essential photo to show off back home.

During the winter, Iceland’s south shore is a picture of snow-tipped mountains, frozen ice caps and sparkling glacial ice on black-sanded beaches. Road conditions in December and January can be unpredictable, so if you want to explore the natural wonders of the south coast, a tour is the easiest option.

After a night of New Year celebration, you might want to take it easy for the day. Iceland’s bathing culture is the perfect way to unwind after a night of excess and partying. Heading to the milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon can refresh and rejuvenate your soul, soaking in the bath-warm waters of a geothermal pool. For an indulgent soaking session with a view, head to Reykjavik’s Sky Lagoon – a heated pool jutting out over the North Atlantic, particularly dramatic and restless during the winter months.

Frequently asked questions about New Year's in Iceland

Still not sure if Iceland is the destination for you at New Year? We’ve rounded up some frequently asked questions to help you make that decision.

Is Iceland good for New Year?

For such a small country, Iceland’s New Year celebrations far surpass expectations. It’s a night when folk flock to the streets, gather around bonfires and party until the small hours in pubs and bars. There’s an undeniable atmosphere to Iceland at New Year that is easy to get swept up in, where people hug each other in the street and call out greetings and well wishes to everyone they see. If you’re looking for a fun, friendly way to see in the New Year, then Iceland is definitely a good choice.

How do they celebrate New Year in Iceland?

NY 5

Across the country, you’ll hear pops and bangs as fireworks light up the night sky. Icelanders save all their fireworks for this festive period, buying around 500 tonnes of fireworks each year. So fireworks are a big part of Iceland’s New Year celebration. There’s also the annual comedy show, a parody of the major events that have taken place across the country during the year. Most Icelanders watch this at 10.30pm before continuing their celebrations with more fireworks, reaching a climax at midnight. After midnight, there are house parties to attend and pubs and bars stay open until around 5am to keep the celebrations going.

Can anyone buy fireworks in Iceland for New Year?

Currently, the law in Iceland restricts the sale of fireworks to between the 28th of December and the 6th of January. This is the only time of year fireworks are allowed to be let off in Iceland too. There has often been discussion around further restriction of fireworks, but since fireworks are sold by ICE-SAR (the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue) and profits go towards the upkeep and running costs of the search and rescue services, they continue to be sold during a limited time of the year. So, when you buy a packet of sparklers for your New Year celebration in Iceland, you are helping out the ICE-SAR.

Are swimming pools in Iceland open during New Year's?

Some of Reykjavik’s swimming pools close for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and some have reduced opening hours, shutting at lunchtime on both days. However, geothermally heated bathing pools like the Blue Lagoon remain open on New Year’s Eve and Day. The Blue Lagoon stays open until 6pm on New Year’s Eve, so you can indulge in a soak before your celebrations. The Sky Lagoon also remains open on New Year’s Eve, closing at 5pm. So you can watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean as you bathe, before hitting the parties of Reykjavik.

Are restaurants in Iceland open during New Year's?

Quite a lot of restaurants close on New Year’s Eve as Icelanders don’t tend to eat out to celebrate the new year. You’ll still find a healthy crop of restaurants open in Reykjavik though, and you should make sure to reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment. Those that are open often offer a set menu and book up months in advance.

Is December a good time to go to Iceland?

While the days are short and the nights are long, December is a great time to visit Iceland. First of all, you’ve got a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights in December as the sun sets early and darkness lasts long into the day. It often snows in December, which can make driving a challenge, but if you’re using organised tours to get around you can admire the drama of the snow-covered scenery from the comfort of a bus or 4x4. Filled with tradition and folklore, Iceland is also a great place to celebrate Christmas and New Year, making December the ideal time to head to this North Atlantic island.

Which country is best for New Year’s Eve?

Ringing in the New Year can be a blast across the world, whether you’re one of the first to greet the next year in New Zealand or counting down to midnight in Times Square, New York. But there are a few countries, particularly in northern Europe, where New Year’s celebrations are steeped in old-world traditions. Scotland’s Hogmanay, for example, is a world-famous New Year celebration where street parties take place across Edinburgh and everyone links arms to sing Auld Lang Syn at the strike of midnight.

A small and friendly country, Iceland’s New Year celebrations are inclusive and very accessible for visitors, making it one of the best countries in the world to celebrate the turn of the year.

What to wear during New Year’s in Iceland?

Throughout New Year’s Eve, you’ll see Icelanders dressed up in sparkling sequins and funny hats. People here like to dress up for the festivities and you’ll fit right in with a sparkly top and silly headwear if you want to get into the spirit of the celebration. Of course, it’s deepest, darkest winter and the weather will be cold. Most people layer with thermals underneath their sparkles and a big woolly jumper to keep warm by the bonfire. Once you’re safely in the pub, you can show off your finery in the warm.

So, that’s it – everything you need to know about Iceland’s New Year celebrations. Visiting Iceland for New Year means celebrating with a fun and friendly nation, gathering around a neighbourhood bonfire and watching the fireworks explode above Reykjavik. If you really want to get a taste of a proper Icelandic New Year’s Eve, check out our tours for New Year’s in Iceland, and book your experience today.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog

Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Iceland

From fireworks to comedy shows, 5am parties to the aurora borealis, check out our guide to Iceland’s New Year celebrations.

November 15, 2022

Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Iceland

From fireworks to comedy shows, 5am parties to the aurora borealis, check out our guide to Iceland’s New Year celebrations.

November 15, 2022

Iceland may be small, but the New Year’s celebrations here are mighty. For one night of the year, the sky above Reykjavik is illuminated with the spiralling brightness of fireworks. Pops, whizzes and bangs can be heard throughout the night in towns and villages across the island, reaching a crescendo for the countdown to midnight. Perhaps you want to stay in the thick of it, and party with the people of Reykjavik, or head out on a cruise to witness this spectacle from the sea. New Year can be a great time to go hunting the Northern Lights. If you’re visiting Iceland to see in the end of the year, we’ve got plenty of tours and activities for New Year’s in Iceland. Read on to find out why you should choose Iceland for your New Year festivities.

How do Icelanders celebrate New Year's Eve?

For such a small country, Iceland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations pack a powerful punch. As wintery darkness falls on the 31st of December every year, the people of Reykjavik (and towns and villages all across the island) take to the streets to let off fireworks. Wandering through the capital, you’ll hear the crack and whizz of fireworks throughout the night and spot them blooming against the night sky from street corners and parks. Kids carry sparklers in gloved hands and the night culminates in a huge crescendo of fireworks at midnight.

There’s a lull in activity around 10.30pm when Icelanders return to their homes to watch the annual comedy show Aramotaskaup, or Skaupid for short. It means The Spoof and is a comedy round-up of all the things that have happened in Iceland over the year. Nearly every Icelander watches it and talks about it the next day.


A week before New Year’s Eve, check out what an Icelandic Christmas looks like


NY 8

Did you know that there is not one, but thirteen Santa Clauses in Iceland’s Christmas traditions? That every year a book flood takes place and that a sock-stealing Christmas cat stalks the streets of Reykjavik? Browse our selection of things to see and do at Christmas in Iceland for some inspiration.


Reykjavik New Year's Eve

The capital and biggest settlement in Iceland, Reykjavik’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are the largest in the land. In the greater Reykjavik area, there are usually around fifteen bonfires blazing against the night sky. These are places for folk from the neighbourhood to gather, greet each other and keep warm while watching the fireworks. Bonfires tend to be lit around 8.30pm and last until 10.30pm (when most people head home to watch the annual comedy show).

NY 4

It may be in Icelandic, but anyone visiting Iceland at New Year should watch the 50-minute comedy sketch show making fun of everything that happened in Iceland throughout the year. It’s called Áramótaskaup, which means The Spoof, and is what Icelanders will spend the next few days talking about – which sketch they liked best, who got made fun of and whether it was better or worse than the previous year’s show. It’s on at 10.30pm on Iceland’s original TV channel.

Across the city, you’ll see people letting off fireworks on street corners and in parks, alongside official, organised firework displays. In Reykjavik, locals like to set off fireworks by Hallgrímskirkja Church, and Klambratún and Landakotstún parks. Anyone can let off fireworks on New Year’s Eve, so it’s a good idea to go out with a pair of protective glasses on if you’re walking around the city. One of the best places to see the New Year’s fireworks in Reykjavik is Öskjuhlíð hill, which the Perlan sits atop.

New Year's Eve tours in Iceland

With all the jolly chaos and liveliness across Iceland on New Year’s Eve, joining a guided tour on the day itself is a good idea. Guided by locals, you can really get under the skin of Iceland’s traditions with one of Reykjavik Excursions’ New Year experiences.

NY 2

On the Reykjavik bonfire tour, join a local guide to experience the ultimate New Year tradition in the capital. Stopping at a few different bonfires across the city, you can join families as they celebrate around a two-story bonfire with live music playing in the background and sparklers in hand. It’s a New Year experience you’re unlikely to forget.

If you want to watch the spectacle of Reykjavik’s New Year fireworks from the water, perhaps the New Year’s fireworks cruise is the option for you. Seeing the colourful explosions reflected against the water is doubly as impressive as on land. Plus, you get a complimentary glass of bubbly to toast in the New Year at midnight.

New Year’s Eve is considered a night of magic and mystery in Icelandic folklore – a night when the elves come out to play. Embrace Icelandic tradition and folklore on the magic and mystery at New Year tour. Hear tales of the dead rising in an atmospheric graveyard before heading to the elf stone for an aura of magic. There’s a stop to buy fireworks and see in the New Year with a sparkler in hand with your new friends on this small group tour.


Deepest, darkest winter sees a blanket of snow cover Iceland as the Northern Lights dance against the night sky


NL 6

The nights are long and the temperature dips below freezing, but there is something particularly magical about spending deep winter in Iceland. Tumbling waterfalls morph into icy cascades, the mountains boast a dusting of snow, ice caves open up on glaciers and there’s the best chance to spot the Northern Lights. Find out why you should visit during the colder months with our guide to visiting Iceland in winter.


Tours & activities around New Year's in Iceland

The days around New Year are a great time to embrace Iceland’s wintery landscape. If you’re visiting this little island to experience our New Year celebrations, you might want to fill the days either side with some experiences that really embrace the winter wonderland in December and January.

There’s no denying that the sights of Iceland’s Golden Circle are an essential experience for any visit. In winter, you can combine the classic stops at Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park with a session spotting the Northern Lights against the dramatic landscape outside of the city. Or, embark on a Northern Lights tour straight from the centre of Reykjavik. With a professional, experienced guide, you’ll find the best spot to see these ethereal lights dancing against the night sky and you’ll have some help capturing that essential photo to show off back home.

During the winter, Iceland’s south shore is a picture of snow-tipped mountains, frozen ice caps and sparkling glacial ice on black-sanded beaches. Road conditions in December and January can be unpredictable, so if you want to explore the natural wonders of the south coast, a tour is the easiest option.

After a night of New Year celebration, you might want to take it easy for the day. Iceland’s bathing culture is the perfect way to unwind after a night of excess and partying. Heading to the milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon can refresh and rejuvenate your soul, soaking in the bath-warm waters of a geothermal pool. For an indulgent soaking session with a view, head to Reykjavik’s Sky Lagoon – a heated pool jutting out over the North Atlantic, particularly dramatic and restless during the winter months.

Frequently asked questions about New Year's in Iceland

Still not sure if Iceland is the destination for you at New Year? We’ve rounded up some frequently asked questions to help you make that decision.

Is Iceland good for New Year?

For such a small country, Iceland’s New Year celebrations far surpass expectations. It’s a night when folk flock to the streets, gather around bonfires and party until the small hours in pubs and bars. There’s an undeniable atmosphere to Iceland at New Year that is easy to get swept up in, where people hug each other in the street and call out greetings and well wishes to everyone they see. If you’re looking for a fun, friendly way to see in the New Year, then Iceland is definitely a good choice.

How do they celebrate New Year in Iceland?

NY 5

Across the country, you’ll hear pops and bangs as fireworks light up the night sky. Icelanders save all their fireworks for this festive period, buying around 500 tonnes of fireworks each year. So fireworks are a big part of Iceland’s New Year celebration. There’s also the annual comedy show, a parody of the major events that have taken place across the country during the year. Most Icelanders watch this at 10.30pm before continuing their celebrations with more fireworks, reaching a climax at midnight. After midnight, there are house parties to attend and pubs and bars stay open until around 5am to keep the celebrations going.

Can anyone buy fireworks in Iceland for New Year?

Currently, the law in Iceland restricts the sale of fireworks to between the 28th of December and the 6th of January. This is the only time of year fireworks are allowed to be let off in Iceland too. There has often been discussion around further restriction of fireworks, but since fireworks are sold by ICE-SAR (the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue) and profits go towards the upkeep and running costs of the search and rescue services, they continue to be sold during a limited time of the year. So, when you buy a packet of sparklers for your New Year celebration in Iceland, you are helping out the ICE-SAR.

Are swimming pools in Iceland open during New Year's?

Some of Reykjavik’s swimming pools close for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and some have reduced opening hours, shutting at lunchtime on both days. However, geothermally heated bathing pools like the Blue Lagoon remain open on New Year’s Eve and Day. The Blue Lagoon stays open until 6pm on New Year’s Eve, so you can indulge in a soak before your celebrations. The Sky Lagoon also remains open on New Year’s Eve, closing at 5pm. So you can watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean as you bathe, before hitting the parties of Reykjavik.

Are restaurants in Iceland open during New Year's?

Quite a lot of restaurants close on New Year’s Eve as Icelanders don’t tend to eat out to celebrate the new year. You’ll still find a healthy crop of restaurants open in Reykjavik though, and you should make sure to reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment. Those that are open often offer a set menu and book up months in advance.

Is December a good time to go to Iceland?

While the days are short and the nights are long, December is a great time to visit Iceland. First of all, you’ve got a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights in December as the sun sets early and darkness lasts long into the day. It often snows in December, which can make driving a challenge, but if you’re using organised tours to get around you can admire the drama of the snow-covered scenery from the comfort of a bus or 4x4. Filled with tradition and folklore, Iceland is also a great place to celebrate Christmas and New Year, making December the ideal time to head to this North Atlantic island.

Which country is best for New Year’s Eve?

Ringing in the New Year can be a blast across the world, whether you’re one of the first to greet the next year in New Zealand or counting down to midnight in Times Square, New York. But there are a few countries, particularly in northern Europe, where New Year’s celebrations are steeped in old-world traditions. Scotland’s Hogmanay, for example, is a world-famous New Year celebration where street parties take place across Edinburgh and everyone links arms to sing Auld Lang Syn at the strike of midnight.

A small and friendly country, Iceland’s New Year celebrations are inclusive and very accessible for visitors, making it one of the best countries in the world to celebrate the turn of the year.

What to wear during New Year’s in Iceland?

Throughout New Year’s Eve, you’ll see Icelanders dressed up in sparkling sequins and funny hats. People here like to dress up for the festivities and you’ll fit right in with a sparkly top and silly headwear if you want to get into the spirit of the celebration. Of course, it’s deepest, darkest winter and the weather will be cold. Most people layer with thermals underneath their sparkles and a big woolly jumper to keep warm by the bonfire. Once you’re safely in the pub, you can show off your finery in the warm.

So, that’s it – everything you need to know about Iceland’s New Year celebrations. Visiting Iceland for New Year means celebrating with a fun and friendly nation, gathering around a neighbourhood bonfire and watching the fireworks explode above Reykjavik. If you really want to get a taste of a proper Icelandic New Year’s Eve, check out our tours for New Year’s in Iceland, and book your experience today.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Northern Lights in Iceland: Your Guide

In this post, you can discover everything you need to know about seeing the aurora borealis in the land of fire and ice.

Read Blog