New Year’s Eve in Iceland

New Year’s Eve in Iceland

New Year’s Eve need not be over rated, anti-climatic and overpriced. Having spent the last six years in different cities, from London, to Orlando, Las Vegas, New York and Abu Dhabi, we love finding a new destination to enjoy the celebrations of New Years Eve. To ring in 2016 we picked Iceland.

img_1999Iceland has to be one of the most unique and memorable New Year’s experiences. Usually we think ahead and book a restaurant and get in on the action. Somehow the evening was all set to be about catching the Icelandic traditions of bonfires and fireworks and we overlooked booking a restaurant. Having spent a fabulous day at The Blue Lagoon and a lavish lunch at The Lava restaurant on New Year’s Eve, dinner hardly seemed important. At the same time we were hoping to have a nice dinner somewhere.

The hotel concierge at The Icelandair Marina Hotel, handed us a list of 40 local restaurants, most of which were closed and the rest fully booked that evening. Even the hotel restaurant was fully booked. We looked up some local restaurants hoping there may be an opening and donned on our snow boots and braved the snow in search of some food. We walked around the marina and were turned away from four restaurants who were all fully booked when we spotted a fish and chips restaurant tucked away. We could see it had a queue to the door. We were hopeful and thought we could join the queue but the door wouldn’t open. It was locked and the last people in the queue gestured to tell us they would get the owner. What seemed like a lifetime, as we shivered in the snow, they returned gesturing they were not able to open the door as the restaurant was closing soon and was on last orders. All the local shops seemed closed. The snow was falling and our fingers felt like icicles, and now we were going to starve.

This was destined to be a memorable New Year’s Eve. We decided to return to our hotel sheepishly, with our tail between our legs, defeated and rather hopeless. The hotel felt sorry us and very kindly offered us a table in their already overbooked restaurant. And although initially relieved, the set menu of Icelandic delicacies whale and puffin were not quite what we were expecting. We were not desperate enough yet and despite the thought of starving, politely declined.

We decided to walk back toward the town centre and try our luck. We stumbled upon Tapas Bar Inn. The place was buzzing with locals and tourists. We walked in and apologised for our stupidity for not having a reservation and they welcomed us in. The service was snappy. The tapas of olives, zucchini, mushrooms with goats cheese and chicken with aioli were delicious. The Chocolate fantasy dessert was divine. And we were in time to join the local bonfires.

It’s free to join in on the New Year’s celebratory bon fires and firework displays. The bon fires are walkable, within half an hour from the city with snow boots, gloves, thermals and of course a map. Fireworks started going off as soon as it got dark and bonfires are lit around the city at half past eight. The bonfire was huge with locals singing and doing sparklers and lighting fireworks. There was a lovely aura with the blazing bonfire keeping everyone warm in the snow.


img_0998At 10pm everything went quiet for an hour as a national Icelandic tradition occurred. Everyone went home to watch an annual comedic summary of the year. At 11.30 the Icelanders were back out to finish the party. We made our way to the central hotspot in Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja Church. The fireworks were in full force from 11.30 and they barely heighten at midnight. The city was illuminated for hours, and it was a beautiful evening. The fireworks carried on all night and 2016 started with a bang. They really know how to put on a great New Years Eve party.

img_1231A memorable evening of fire and ice, true to Icelandic tradition. Iceland is an amazing place to bring in the New Year. Where’s your favourite place for New Year’s Eve? Where will you be spending NYE this year?

Reykjavík, Iceland

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