New Years Eve in Reykjavik
Text by: Egill Fannar Halldórsson
Visiting Reykjavik for New Year’s Eve is definitely something special. It’s a huge season in the capital of Iceland and the city will be more alive than ever. Even though it will be cold! And as a local in Reykjavik, I can tell you that New Year’s Eve means mostly three things for us:
1. AMAZING food
2. TONS of fireworks
3. And the BIGGEST party of the year!
For just about one week the ban for fireworks in Iceland will be lifted. This means that every single person above the age of 16 in Iceland will be able (and very likely) to spend their month salary on fireworks with that simple purpose to light up the sky! For this reason, you will hear loud explosions around the city from approx. the 28th. of December and until the 4th. of January.
People will play with fireworks through this whole week but of course, the peak will be the build up before New Year’s Eve and then exactly at 00:00 on the 31st. to ring in the new year with a bang!
You will be able to buy fireworks in small trucks/pop up shops in multiple locations all around the city. If you are interested to not only enjoy the show but to participate, then don’t hesitate to try for yourself!
Where to enjoy the fireworks on New Years Eve
The sky will be lit up almost everywhere you’ll go and wherever you look. If you are staying in a hotel/apartment outside of the down town area we would recommend you to enjoy the show from any tall building or at any hill with a good overview of the city.
If however, you want to be in the center of the show – And participate in not only your private NYE party celebration but celebrate with everyone in the city, then we have been celebrating at the square right in front of Hallgrímskirkja church for the last years. There you will find thousands of people, happy, lighting up the sky – And ready to party their ass off!
Food & Restaurants
Update 15/11/’16: Most of our favorite fine dining restaurants in Reykjavik are fully booked by now. If you haven’t made dinner arrangements I would encourage you to do so asap!
Throughout the years, many restaurants used to be closed on New Year’s Eve. Today, however, this is changing and mostly because of a big increase in tourism. By far most restaurants in down town Reykjavik will, therefore, be open – But with limited hours or settings.
Here is a very good thing to know: For the past two years every single food serving venue in Reykjavik has been absolutely packed for this evening. And in our experience, a lot of people didn’t even get the chance to sit down for a New Years Eve meal. I hosted a crazy New Years Eve Reykjavik Bar Crawl last year and there I met a few of my guests that didn’t make any dinner reservations – So they ended up buying sandwiches from the grocery store and eat at their hostel.
That is probably just ok but I would highly recommend you to make reservations ahead of time. And way ahead of time! Since in our opinion, New Years is not the night when you want to have a tuna sandwich! Even though it’s a fresh caught Icelandic tuna!!
Like already mentioned, the nightlife on New Year’s Eve is the main event. It is crazy and it’s the biggest party of the year.
Locals normally meet up with friends or family for dinner on New Year’s Eve and then gather around in larger New Year’s parties after midnight. Some will stay in house-parties the entire night – But many end up by going down town.
Some bars are open before midnight. Mostly those who are also restaurants. Others usually open at midnight – Or about 1 AM as the bartenders will have some time to enjoy midnight with their families before they carry on down town to work.
From our experience from the past years, the down town area get’s crowded.
My recommendation: Do a little research on what venues you like to visit and I recommend you to be at your final venue not much later that 1 AM to ensure you will get in without waiting in a line the whole night.
Our best nightlife recommendations for New Years Eve in Reykjavik
Unlike last New Years Eve, we decided not to host our famous Reykjavik Bar Crawl for this large night. But we will be hosting awesome warm up Bar Crawls on the Thursday and Friday prior. Read all about it by clicking the link above!
However, for this big night we decided to host the ultimate New Years Eve Party in Reykjavik. That way we are able to accommodate a lot more fun and party hungry guests and start the party earlier as so many of the bars don’t open until after midnight.
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