How to Celebrate the New Year in Iceland

Colourful display of fireworks in the Reykjavík night sky during New Year’s celebration.

Illuminated by the shimmering Northern Lights, Iceland’s breathtaking beauty never fails to captivate visitors and residents alike. Come New Year and you’ll see a whole new side to the Land of Fire and Ice as bonfires are conjured and fireworks dazzle. With vibrant cultural traditions in a winter wonderland, the Icelandic New Year experience is unparalleled. 

In this blog, we have covered all the information you need to celebrate New Year’s Icelandic style!

How do Icelanders spend New Year's Eve?

Be it Reykjavík or a countryside village in Iceland, Icelanders follow a typical routine around New Year’s Eve. Following dinner with friends and family around 6 or 7 p.m., they will gather at the nearest bonfire by 8 o’clock to light some fireworks. At 10:30 p.m., there is a comedy TV show that throws a flashback to the year past. Icelanders will go home in time to watch this but will head out again for midnight fireworks. They then spend the night partying in bars, pubs, or people’s houses.

Ways to Celebrate Iceland New Years

Are you ready to ring in the New Year in Iceland? Here are the top things you can do to have a magical holiday in the Land of Fire and Ice when the ball drops!


Fireworks Extravaganza

Throughout the country, the New Year’s Eve countdown is marked by an incredible display of fireworks. Icelanders often go to their nearest street corner but there are also popular locations such as Hallgrímskirkja and Oskjuhlid Hill in Perlan, one of Reykjavík's stunning landmark buildings, to watch fireworks. Fireworks reflected in Reykjavík’s Lake Tjörnin will leave you spellbound!

Icelanders support their local search and rescue teams which rely heavily upon fireworks and Christmas tree sales for funding. Did you know that 1.7% of the population in Iceland is a volunteer for the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR)?

Catch New Year’s Eve fireworks aboard the Amelia Rose on an evening yacht cruise. Watch how the colourful Reykjavík sky gets reflected in the blue Arctic waters. 

Bonfires and Community Gatherings

Organising bonfires is a common tradition in Iceland during the New Year’s celebrations. Local towns and communities start bonfires around 8 o’clock with an aim to finish before 10 p.m. so people can go home to watch the annual comedy show on TV. One of the largest bonfires is in Reykjavík’s Aegissida street near the seaside. You will see people dressed up in costumes featuring funny hats and glitter makeup. 

Cosy up by the fire and share stories with friendly Icelanders. 



People gathered around a towering bonfire during New Year’s celebration in Iceland.

Áramótaskaup – The Annual Comedy Show

Translating to the New Year’s Spoof, the annual comedy show known as Áramótaskaup is a rave among Icelanders. No one is spared in this 50-minute TV program where Icelanders poke fun at themselves.  There are also multiple sketches chronicling the events of the year. Favourite sketches are a conversation starter amongst Icelanders.

If you would like a glimpse into Iceland’s culture, politics, and sense of humour, Áramótaskaup is a must-watch!

Icelandic New Year’s Eve Party

New Year’s Eve parties in Iceland take fine dining to another level. Join the Hotel Reykjavik Grand family for your own New Year's Eve celebration. Our festivities come with refreshing drinks, an indulgent Gala dinner buffet, savory canapés, and a champagne toast, Hotel Reykjavík Grand’s New Year’s Eve Gala

Have you heard of Iceland’s national drink Brennivín? It’s a must-try while you’re celebrating in Iceland!

New Year’s Eve celebration with fireworks and champagne toast during countdown to midnight.

Iceland’s New Year’s traditions are one of a kind. Whether you want to embrace the festive spirit in Reykjavík or watch some good old Áramótaskaup, you will have an unforgettable experience during New Year’s in Iceland.

With our homely hotels with state-of-the-art facilities, you can enjoy a comfortable stay in Iceland. We also recommend booking a restaurant in advance for the occasion! Let us help you prepare for a magical Iceland New Year’s Eve.