New Year’s Eve Bonfires at Ten Locations in Reykjavík

New Year's eve bonfire in Laugarás in Reykjavík

There will be ten New Year’s Eve bonfires in Reykjavík tonight to mark the end of 2023.

New Year’s bonfires are a tradition reaching back to the 18th century in Iceland, stemming from the belief that if you want to have a clean slate for the new year, you have to symbolically burn away the old year and everything it represents. The tradition was first started by rowdy students but these days, it’s a family-friendly occasion, with people gathering around a fire and singing a few songs. Since New Year’s Eve is linked to folk beliefs and superstitions, some say that elves or hidden people make an appearance at the fires.

This year’s bonfires will be lit at the following times in the following locations:

At Ægisíða at 8:30 PM.
In Skerjafjörður opposite Skildinganes 48-52 at 9:00 PM.
At Suðurhlíð, below Fossvogur Cemetery at 8:30 PM.
Laugardalur, below Laugarásvegur 18 at 8:30 PM.
Geirsnef, on the north side of Geirsnef at 8:30 PM.
At Jafnasel at 8:30 PM.
At Rauðavatn lake on the north side at 8:30 PM.
Gufunes by Gufunesbær at 8:30 PM.
At Kléberg in Kjalarnes at 8:30 PM.
Úlfarsfell at Fisfélagið activity area above Lambhagavegur at 3:00 PM.

All of the above bonfires are categorised as small bonfires except the first at Gufunes and Geirsnef, which will be large bonfires.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve Bonfire

Last night in Iceland, families came together to eat dinner and watch the yearly Áramótaskaup revue for entertainment. Many dressed in their warmest clothing and headed outside to visit neighbourhood bonfires, lit around the country to celebrate the returning light, or to watch the frenzy of fireworks.

Of course, as anywhere else in the world, some spent the first hours of the year out on the town, toasting to what the future holds.

No matter what the celebration entails, the Iceland Review team would like to wish our readers and their loved ones a Happy New Year. Gleðilegt ár and thanks for reading!

ICE-SAR Earns Over Half of Annual Revenue from Fireworks

Reykjavík Fireworks New Year's Eve

ICE-SAR earned around ISK 800 million ($6.8m/€6m), or up to 60% of its total annual revenue from New Year’s firework sales in 2017 and 2016, RÚV reports. ICE-SAR chairman Smári Sigurðsson says that this year’s fireworks sales figures are not yet available, and may indeed be somewhat lower than previous years, but it’s possible that sales from this year’s new seedlings initiative will make up for any drop-off in firework sales. Smári predicts that this year’s fundraiser will yield somewhere between ISK 700 and 800 million ($5.9-6.8m/€5.5-6m).

Figures for this year’s sales are not yet available as they will continue through January 6, or Þrettándinn, which marks the 13th and last day of Christmas in Iceland. Bonfires are held throughout the country and many people save their holiday fireworks for this day, which is the last legal day to set them off until the next Christmas season. The bonfires and fireworks are, metaphorically speaking, intended to “burn up Christmas” and mark the end of the festive season.

There’s been increasing concern over the pollution caused by the annual fireworks extravaganza in Iceland, and the resulting difficulties experienced, for instance, by people with respiratory problems. As such, the idea of selling seedlings to be planted in a grove outside Þorlákshöfn next summer had been “well-received,” said Smári, and ICE-SAR intends to continue the seedling sale next year and “…develop this partnership with the Icelandic Forest Service further.”

ICE-SAR is entirely funded by donations; it receives no government support. As such, the annual end-of-year fundraiser is particularly important to the organisation’s success for the rest of the year. However, that doesn’t mean that the organisation is dead-set on the continued sale of fireworks specifically.

“We’re not defending fireworks, per se, but we but we want to spend the profits on the work that needs to be done.”