All Fired Up in Reykjavik

Imagine a bonfire 15 metres tall. Imagine 300 people crowded in front of it, singing songs and lighting flares and sparklers oblivious to the sparks raining from above.  Imagine snow on the ground and fireworks going off all around you as impatient locals can’t wait for midnight.  This is New Years Eve in Reykjavik.IMG_2314

To say that Icelanders enjoy fireworks would be a gross understatement, so when New Years rolls around and fireworks are legal to buy (and let off), Icelanders quite literally get all fired up.

As we arrived into Reykjavik in the late afternoon of New Years Eve, fireworks were already going off all around town.  As the day darkened, more and more people lost their patience and added to the growing symphony of bangs, whistles and cracks.IMG_2851

After dinner families all gather around their local bonfire which has been a tradition for hundreds of years. We joined in a local bonfire which was easily the largest fire I’ve ever seen.  Walking through through the trees we though someone’s entire house must have been lit up!IMG_2310

The scene was magical with snow on the ground, the fire blazing, and families lighting sparklers for kids (big and little!).  IMG_2728

Icelandic music was playing and most people sang along with gusto.  All around, fireworks were let off as people couldn’t wait to try out their new purchases.  As the bonfire burned low, a fireworks display exploded above us as a teaser for the main event at midnight.IMG_2555

We were taken to a rooftop viewing point to view the main fireworks and ring in the New Year.  As midnight approached, we could see more and more fireworks being let off all around us. and it was hard to believe this wasn’t the main event.  When the clock finally struck 2014, the fireworks doubled in intensity, and it was hard to know where to look – were ringed on all sides by deafening displays of colour and fire.IMG_2804

The intensity of the midnight fireworks lasted for a full 45 minutes with fireworks being let off less than 50 metres away from us and locals were still letting off fireworks at 7am the next morning. And the following evening.IMG_2833

After midnight and most people have exhausted their stockpile, the main drag in Reykjavik is full of revellers jamming into all the bars determined to carry on the festivities.  As we walked down the street, one local greeted us with “Where else but Iceland will you party with your Mum on New Year’s Eve??” as his mother joined in the passing parade.

If you find yourself in Iceland for NYE, dress warmly, get some sparklers, find a bonfire and party like a local.  If you’re brave enough you can let off your own fireworks but whatever you do, don’t forget the earplugs.




  1. As a child growing up in NZ I always thought the bonfires and fireworks on Guy Fawkes nigh were pretty exciting but it was barely a glow in the dark compared with Iceland. How wonderful to experience it all. The photos are just amazing and did I spot you and Tiffany putting on a little act in two of them?



  2. THAT looks spectacular! You must have had one heck of a night! Superb pictures to capture the mood.
    A very happy & healthy 2014 to you & yours, hopefully we’ll all get filthily rich somewhere along the line as well ♥


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