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HRISTMAS GUIDE 2013

TRADITIONAL FOOD SHOPPING HOURS WINTER TOURS ICELANDIC DESIGN

L S PEC I A E D ITI O N NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONS TOP 10 ACTIVITIES THE YULE LADS

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 1


DECEMBER ISSUE

DECEMBER 2013

IN REYKJAVIK

THE CHRISTM AS ISSUE!

, EATING OUT, MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES. REYKJAVIK’S LEADING GUIDE TO ENTERTAINMENT

OUT NOW!

WHAT’S ON IN REYKJAVIK IS YOUR GUIDE TO EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING IN REYKJAVIK, CONCERTS, EVENTS AND SO MUCH MORE. FIND THE NEWEST EDITION ALL OVER REYKJAVIK

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REYKJAVIK CHRISTMAS GUIDE 2013 HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

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CHRISTMAS OPENINGS

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HOLIDAY EVENTS

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CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

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WINTER TOURS

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TOP 10 DECEMBER ACTIVITIES 72

WELCOME

Christmas is a magical time in Reykjavik. During this darkest time of the year Christmas lights adorn a city full of surprises. There are many attractions for visitors in Reykjavík. You can shop for unique gifts, visit the Christmas markets or explore the winter landscape around Reykjavík. Or just relish the holiday atmosphere and the many opportunities to enjoy music, food and fun activities. I also encourage you to get acquainted with Icelandic traditions relating to the season. Icelandic folklore tells about fascinating Christmas creatures - the thirteen cheeky Yule Lads and the big black Yule Cat – some of which you should not be surprised to bump into during your stay. For further information on other attractions go to www.visitreykjavik.is Above all, I hope you enjoy your stay in Reykjavik. Gleðilega hátíð! (Happy Holidays!) Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavík

MD Reykjavik ehf Safamýri 57 108 Reykjavík • Tel.: (+354) 899 2255 whatson@whatson.is www.whatson.is COVERPHOTO: Visitreykjavik.is

EDITOR: Hjörtur Atli Guðmunds. Geirdal DESIGN & LAYOUT: Stefán Birgir Stefáns PRINTING:

Prentmet

Authors have taken all reasonable care in preparing this handbook, but make no guarantee about the accuracy or completeness of its content. © MD Reykjavik All right reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means – without the written permission of the authors and the publisher. Other publications by MD Reykjavik; Reykjavik City Guide, Reykjavik City Map, Akureyri Guide, What‘s On in Reykjavik and the My Destination Reykjavik Magazine.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT TRADITION Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and marks the official start of the Christmas season in Iceland. It is when things start getting magical, lights shining through the winter darkness, concerts and celebrations, and festive spirits. One of the longest-standing traditions of the season, and another sign that Christmas is imminent, is the lighting of the Christmas tree in Reykjavik and the surrounding towns Kópavogur and Hafnafjörður. These tall evergreen trees placed in public places are traditional gifts form the other Nordic countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Check it out this year and enjoy a joyful day accompanied by entertainment and festivities, a delightful affair especially for children. Saturday the 24th of November in Hafnafjörður, Saturday the 1st of December in Kópavogur and Sunday the 2nd of December downtown Reykjavik in Austurvöllur Square.

ADVENT LIGHTS

CHRISTMAS TREE

Come the end of November, Advent lights – arguably the most popular of the Icelandic Christmas decorations – are staples in most Icelandic homes. There are two main types: the Advent Wreath, which has four candles, one lit on each Sunday of Advent, and the triangle-shaped, seven-candle electric candelabra, which is normally placed on windowsills to shine out into the winter darkness.

Most Icelanders use real trees, as opposed to artificial ones. Some are grown in Iceland, while others are imported. The tradition is to decorate them just a day or two before Christmas, on the 23rd, or even on Christmas Eve day. They remain until the 12th Day (January 6th), which most Icelanders consider the perfect length of time. After that, they start to lose their lustre, and who likes a dry, bare needle-less Christmas tree?

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LAUFABRAUÐ Laufabrauð, literally ‘leaf bread’, are usually round, wafer-thin wheat breads traditionally cut with intricate decorative patterns and then deep-fried. During Advent, families and friends often get together to make laufabrauð. Frequently they will throw their artistic skills into the mix, resulting in some very fine specimens that are considered too pretty to eat and tied up with red ribbons and hung as decorations. Others are usually served at Christmas and New Year’s with traditional Icelandic food, such as smoked lamb.

A GIFT IN THE SHOE One of the best Christmas traditions, particularly for Icelandic kiddies, is the shoe-in-the window tradition. This gets underway 13 days before Christmas, when the Icelandic Yule Lads, who live in the mountains, start coming to town, one per night. Before they go to sleep, kids take one of their best shoes and leave near an open window. Come morning – presto! – the shoe will contain a small gift from the Yule Lad that arrived on that night. However, this only works

if the child has been good – if he or she has been bad, the shoe will contain only one lonely potato.

COOKIES The baking of cookies and making of confectioneries is the barometer of pre-Christmas domestic excellence in Iceland. Throughout the country, Icelandic homemakers work overtime to bake the greatest number of cookie sorts – and are not above boasting about it.

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Baking six sorts normally generates applause, 12 sorts is regarded with such awe that it is like announcing you just climbed Mount Everest in high heels. Meanwhile, by the time Christmas rolls around, most people feel slightly nauseous at the prospect of yet more cookies, and make ardent resolutions to hit the gym at least five times a week in the New Year.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD Food and cooking are a major part of Icelandic Christmas celebrations. For most people the Christmas meal is the most special meal of the year, and Icelanders go all-out in the preparations. For many centuries, smoked lamb, or hangikjöt, was the traditional gourmet Christmas meal. This has changed in the last few decades, however, and there is now much more to choose from, even though most families stick to one single tradition for their Christmas meal. Popular fare at Christmas includes rjúpa, or ptarmigan, an exquisite wildfowl that feeds on ling, berries and herbs, and hamborgarhryggur, glazed rack of ham, traditionally a Danish meal. Also catching on in the last few years have been reindeer, turkey and even Beef

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Wellington. Meanwhile, come January, fish is the order of the day, as people make good on their New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and hit the gym.

CHRISTMAS BUFFET One of the unshakable traditions of Advent in Iceland is the Christmas buffet. Most restaurants offer them and almost everyone will partake of at least one during Advent. These are lavish affairs typically containing dozens of dishes, different types of herring, smoked and cured salmon, reindeer pâté, smoked puffin and much, much more … and that’s just the cold dishes. Hot dishes will normally include the ubiquitous smoked lamb, roast pork with rind, rack of ham, turkey, and more. And let’s not even mention the stacked dessert buffet.


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LOVED ONES REMEMBERED The Yuletide season is a time when Icelanders remember their departed loved ones. To really appreciate this tradition, you’d have to understand the huge part that the family plays in Icelandic Christmas celebrations. On December 24th, and often on New Year’s Eve day as well, many families will come together at the graves, of their loved ones, and place on them a candle or some sort of light to show that they are remembered and missed. The cemeteries look amazingly beautiful in the midwinter darkness, all lit up with candles, particularly if there is snow. Hólavallargarður churchyard from 1832 situated at Suðurgata, overlooking the Tjörnin lake in the western part of Reykjavik, is the most central one and definitely worth a stroll around on a snowwhite winter afternoon.

THE BOOK FLOOD Iceland sells more books per capita than any other nation in the world, and the vast majority are sold in the lead-up to Christmas. In Iceland this is known as the Christmas Book Flood. The tradition in Iceland is that everyone must receive at least one book for Christmas to take to bed on Christmas Eve along with some chocolates. And so, beginning in November, hundreds of books

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are released onto the market and the talk is all about books – in the media, in the workplace, among family and friends, and at Christmas parties. And once Christmas is over and the books have been read, everyone’s a critic, giving their views and opinions of that latest tome and whether it is as good, or better, as the author’s last one.

PUTRID SKATE DAY Skata or putrid skate parties are without a doubt one of the more bizarre Icelandic traditions. Every year on December 23, Icelanders get together and eat skate (as in fish) that has been sitting in a closed container and allowed to ferment for a month or more. By that time it has a smell that will clear your sinuses from about a mile away. The main headache is how to get the smell out of your house before the bells start ringing in Christmas. As a result, many people choose to partake of this delicacy in a restaurant, or alternatively cook it outdoors or perhaps in the garage. Predictably, not everyone is partial to this tradition, and not everybody can handle the smell. In fact, it can be kind of a macho thing for some, and frequently requires one shot (or several) of ice-cold schnapps like Danish Aquavit or Icelandic Brennivín, a.k.a. Black Death, to get it down. Not everyone’s kettle of fish, but certainly a fun tradition, particularly when enjoyed with friends.


NEW YEAR’S BONFIRES On New Year’s Eve, bonfires, the Icelanders call them “brennur”, are lit throughout the country to symbolize the burning of the old year. There’s always a really great atmosphere at these “brennur”, kids with sparklers, happy faces, friends and neighbours mingling, and the heat of the fire mixed with the winter cold. And since the brennur are not always easy for foreign visitors to find, in recent years, tour operators have started organizing special tours to get them involved in the fun.

TWELFTH NIGHT According to folklore, strange and magical things took place on the Twelfth Night (January

6th). Cows started talking (although people were warned not to listen to them because their talk would drive them mad), seals shed their skins (Icelandic legend had it that seals were spellbound humans because their eyes are so expressive), and the elves moved house. Today, this tradition lives on in that bonfires are burned throughout the nation (just like on New Year’s Eve, only smaller) and the “elf king and queen” will often make an appearance, dressed in fancy clothing and riding a horse. Needless to say, this is mostly for the amusement of the younger generation.

THE ESSENTIAL CHRISTMAS DRINK Iceland’s traditional Christmas drink is a mixture of the locally produced Maltöl and orange soda. Each family member tends to have his or her own opinion on what constitutes the perfect mixture of the two: 50/50 or 60/40. Debates can go on for hours, days or even years. What do you think? Pick up a can/bottle of each and experiment!

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THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY THE FESTIVE SEASON! Nestling in the heart of Hafnarfjörður, the Christmas Village offers a special opportunity to enjoy the festive season. The Village opens on the 30th of November and is open every weekend until Christmas. The Christmas Village offers a wide selection of gifts, Christmas decorations and delicious foodstuffs. Live musical and theatrical performances are on the program, as well as the

HAFNAFJÖRÐUR

opportunity to meet Grýla the ogress who is the mother of Iceland’s very own Yule Lads, who are the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. They bring gifts to good children for the thirteen nights preceding Christmas Day. The Christmas Village opens on the 30th of November and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00-17:00 until Christmas. On the 19th, 20th and 23rd the Christmas Village is open from 16:00 – 21:00, with a live Christmas concert beginning at 20:00. Hafnarfjörður is a picturesque town set in a lava landscape, with its own relaxed atmosphere. Only a 20 minute bus ride from downtown Reykjavík with bus number 1.

THE TOWN IN THE LAVA Strandgata 6, 220 Hafnarfjörður, Iceland www.visithafnarfjordur.is Tel.: +354 585 5500 E-mail: jolathorp@hafnarfjordur.is

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HAFNARFJÖRÐUR IS ONLY 20 MINUTES FROM DOWNTOWN REYKJAVÍK WITH BUS NO 1


HAFNAFJÖRÐUR JUST A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE CAPITAL, A PICTURESQUE TOWN SET IN THE LAVA LANDSCAPE, WITH ITS OWN RELAXED AND MELLOW ATMOSPHERE For gift shopping, Hafnarfjörður has a variety of shops, conveniently located in the compact center of the town, and a selection of excellent restaurants and cafés. Hafnarfjörður is a small cozy town, only a bus ride away from Reykjavík, where you can enjoy celebrating the Christmas season with a feeling of relaxation. Close to nature Hafnarfjörður offers nature walks through lava fields, magnificent geothermal springs, horse-riding, Viking banquets, Elf spotting and last but not least free admission to museums.

FREE ADMISSION

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THE YULELADS AND FAMILY Yule Lads are Iceland’s version of Santa Claus, except there are 13 of them, each with their own definitive character. They live in a cave in the mountains with their mother, the formidable Grýla, and their wimpy father, Leppalúði.

GRÝLA An ogress who eats children that have been naughty. She lives in a cave and always has a pot with boiling water at the ready, should she hear of some exceptionally badly behaved children. Grýla has been used by parents throughout the centuries to frighten children into behaving. In 1746 Icelandic authorities, probably concerned with the mental health of the up-and-coming generation, issued

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a public decree, forbidding parents from frightening their children with the hideous Grýla.

YULE CAT The ghastly child-eating ogress has a rather under-publicized yet sinister sidekick “jólakötturinn”, the Yule Cat, who lives with her and her wuss of a husband in their cave. In the Iceland of yore, every person who did not get a new item of clothing for Christmas ended


up in the belly of the Yule Cat. Today the Yule Cat is still alive and thriving, particularly in the minds of those who maintain that they absolutely must buy something new to wear for Christmas, or else they will meet a most horrible fate at the hands – or claws – of the Yule Cat.

THE YULE LADS The Icelandic Yule Lads are a group of 13 mischievous imps who start arriving in town, one each night, from December 12th until Christmas Eve. They also leave in the same order, one per night from the 25th until the 6th of January. In the Iceland of yore they were an incredible nuisance and brought grief to the general populace, whereas today they’ve morphed into kinder, gentler Yule Lads who bring gifts for kiddies who have been good and deposit them in their shoes. We are proud to introduce to you: The Yulelads!

STÚFUR (STUBBY) DEC. 14th This old guy was very short, as the name would suggest. He snuck into the farmhouses when no one was looking, snatched any available pan from the kitchen, picked at the burnt remains of food that had stuck to the sides, and ate them.

STEKKJASTAUR (SHEEP-COTE CLOD) DEC. 12TH This particular character liked to sneak into the sheep’s pens and suckle the ewes for their milk. The only problem was that he had stiff knees and leg, which made it difficult to get under the sheep to begin suckling.

GILJAGAUR (GULLY GAWK) DEC. 13TH This was a crafty little fellow who snuck down from the mountains and into the cowshed when the stable hand was chatting up the milkmaid. When their backs were turned he snuck over, grabbed the bucket with the milk, and slurped all the froth off the top.

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ÞVÖRUSLEIKIR (SPOON LICKER) DEC. 15TH This Yule Lad made mischief by sneaking into the houses and licking the wooden spoons used to stir the contents of the pots. He was extremely tall and skinny and kept an eye out for when the cook left the kitchen, at which point he darted in, seized the wooden spoon and licked it to distraction.

POTTASLEIKIR (POT LICKER) DEC. 16TH Like Stúfur, this Yule Lad also liked to lick the remains from the inside of the pots, though in contrast to his brother he had no special preference for burnt remains. He knocked at the door, and when the kiddies rushed out to see who it was, he dashed in and gobbled up all their remains.

ASKASLEIKIR (BOWL LICKER) DEC. 17TH In the old days, Icelanders ate their food from a lidded wooden bowl called askur, with everyone having their own separate one. This old fellow would creep in, sometimes

hide under the bed, and then snatch the askar whenever they were put aside, licking their insides clean.

HURÐASKELLIR (DOOR SLAMMER) DEC. 18TH For some reason this old Lad liked the sound of slamming doors, and also the sound of creaky hinges. Probably because he was a mischievous son of a gun that just liked to annoy people. As a result he slammed doors whenever he got the chance.

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SKYRGÁMUR (SKYR GOBBLER) DEC 19TH This Yule Lad sniffed out the skyr barrels, broke their lids and gorged himself on their contents. For the uninitiated, skyr is a dairy product halfway between a cheese and yoghurt.

BJÚGNAKRÆKIR (SAUSAGE SWIPER) DEC 20TH The name of this guy says it all. He snuck up into the rafters and nicked the sausages that hung there for smoking. It was all full of soot and smoke up there, but that didn’t bother him. If there were sausages to be had, he was in the house.

GLUGGAGÆGIR (WINDOW PEEPER) DEC 21ST As one might gather from the name, this Yule Lad liked to peep through the windows of the houses, spotting things he might like to steal, which of course was mostly food. He then snuck in at opportune moments and made off with the goods.

GÁTTAÞEFUR (DOOR SNIFFER) DEC 22nd This old guy could smell baking laufabrauð, his favourite food, wafting out through the doorways of houses many miles away. At which point he hurried to the scene, broke into the house and stole some.

KETKRÓKUR

(MEAT HOOK) DEC 23rd This crafty Yule Lad travelled around with a hook that he used to grab bits of meat. Typically he would crawl up on the roof and send his hook down the chimney to snag a piece of

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smoked lamb boiling in a pot or leg of lamb hanging from the rafters.

KERTASNÍKIR

(CANDLE BEGGAR) DEC 24TH Back in the old days, people were traditionally given candles and playing cards for Christmas. Candles were extremely precious, and were made from animal fat. This naughty fellow crept behind the children who were enjoying their brand-new candles and snatched them.

WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN Children are on their best behaviour in December when the Yule Lads are on the prowl and deposit gifts in the shoes of angelic boys and girls. Parents are also keen to remind their offspring that if they are not good, they will receive a potato in their shoe.


THE WONDERFUL FEEL OF LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS STRESS One of the wonderful perks of living in a small country is the closeness that develops between people. This is very apparent in the smaller towns but even in the capital of Reykjavik, with its 120.000 inhabitants, you can sometimes still feel the closeness, although Bob Dylan was not entirely wrong when he said that the times they were a-changin’. One of the best days to experience this is the day before Christmas. LAUGAVEGUR The history of commerce at Laugavegur goes hand in hand with the history of Reykjavik. The road construction of Laugavegur was approved in the town council in 1885, and its original purpose was to facilitate travel to the hot springs used by maids and housewives to wash the laundry (the preface “lauga-“ means “spring-“ in English). The street soon became the hub of shopping and commerce in Reykjavik and consequently in the country. SHOPPING IN DECEMBER They turn the lights on in November. Laugavegur and the adjoining shopping streets are decorated with lights and ornaments, and that is

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when the fun begins. Every weekend until Christmas, the atmosphere is cheerful and filled with anticipation. And of course, the stress level rises as the big day approaches because when stores close at 11pm on December 23rd, everything must be in the bag. In my hometown, the women have a habit of asking each other: Have you done everything yet? I never understood this question when I was a child, but nowhere does it spring to life more than at Laugavegur on the day before Christmas. THE FEEL OF IT December 23rd is called Þorláksmessa, or St. Þorlak’s Day, in Iceland, and it is a very special day in downtown Reykjavik. You can roughly divide the crowd into two groups; those who have not yet finished their Christmas shopping and those who got everything done in time and just want to get into the mood. There is music in the streets and as the day progresses the crowd becomes denser, and the pubs start filling up. All this is mixed with the smell of fermented skate and the light-salted desperation of husbands who decided to save the


wife’s present for last, yet again. This is the busiest shopping day of the year, and I actually know people who are very organised in their Christmas shopping, but always put off one or two things, just so they can get the true feel of Laugavegur on Þorláksmessa. My obsession with doing everything like the women

in my home town permits no such indulgence but for those of you who plan on spending Christmas in this strange country of ours, walking down Laugavegur on this special day is something you should absolutely put on your list of things to do. -Ágústa Rúnarsdóttir

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REYKJAVÍK CHRISTMAS CITY Reykjavik Christmas City invites you to get all wrapped up in our wonderful winter celebrations throughout December. Our remarkable Christmas season, crowned with regular spellbinding displays of the Northern Lights is truly a magical time to visit Iceland’s capital city. It’s not just those other worldly illuminations that make Reykjavík a fascinating Christmas destination though. The fact that Iceland has not one, but thirteen Santa Clauses or “Yule Lads”, is a little gem of cultural knowledge that’s been celebrated as part of our Reykjavík Christmas City since the year 2010; it’s also resulted in quite a few kids around the world redirecting their mail from the North Pole to Iceland. Apart from the emphasis on extraordinary illuminations and various traditional Christmas events, such as the annual

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lighting of the Oslo Christmas Tree, each year we collaborate with a number of different city departments to create a lively and entertaining Christmas season, spiced up with our unique combination of fun, food and Icelandic folklore. In addition, a number of beautiful locations across the city are transformed every year into dedicated Advent areas, where the majority of culture–inspired events and activities take place. These locations include the Christmas Valley in Laugardalur, Christmas Island in Viðey, a Christmas Market in Ingolfstorg Square, the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjörður, an Advent Calendar at the Nordic House and our charming Christmas Harbour.


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THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES DECEMBER 23rd

ÞORLÁKSMESSA -ST. THORLAKUR’S DAY The day has got it’s name from Iceland’s major Saint, the Bishop of Skálholt, St. Thorlakur Thorhallsson, who died on December 23rd in 1193. In those days being the last day of the Catholic Christmas fast, and of course people weren’t expected to eat meat on this day but fish. The tradition continued after the country converted to Lutheranism and for centuries on this day a simple meal of skata or Skate has been the main custom. At the Skate lunch two kinds of Skate are usually on the menu, one kind is only slightly putrefied, the other very putrefied, and both served in chunks with boiled potatoes. The Christmas tree is usually decorated on this day and it’s also a big shopping day for last minute

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gifts, with stores remaining open until midnight. Take a walk on the main streets of Rekjavik and mingle with the locals in shops, pubs & bars to get in tune for Christmas Eve.

DECEMBER 24 th

CHRISTMAS EVE Christmas officially begins at 18:00 sharp when all the church bells throughout Iceland ‘ring in’ the Jól. By that time everyone is washed and dressed in their best clothes (ideally new clothes, to escape the Yule Cat) and people affectionately wish each other a Merry Christmas. At this time the radio begins broadcasting Christmas mass from the Dómkirkjan church, which many people listen to as they put finishing touches on the Christmas meal. This is a very intimate and festive evening that Icelanders normally spend only with their


nearest and dearest. After dinner people relocate to the living room – or wherever the tree happens to be – to open presents. This takes up most of the evening, and afterwards everyone just sort of does what he or she wants, which for many people means crawling into bed with whatever book they received for Christmas.

DECEMBER 25-26th

CHRISTMAS DAY & SECOND – which the Icelanders call ‘second in Christmas’ – are both public holidays and most people spend them lazing around. Reading is popular, as is snoozing, going out for walks, lying around watching TV … anything that requires minimal exertion, really. In the evenings many people attend some sort of Christmas party with the extended family.

DECEMBER 31st

NEW YEARS EVE New Year’s Eve is a major event on the Icelandic social calendar. The fun begins around 6 pm when most

people have a big festive dinner, after which they head out to a bonfire, or brenna, to mingle and socialize. At 22:30 it is time for the eagerly awaited “Áramótaskaup” (New Year’s scoff)– an hourlong TV programme in which the country’s top comedians lampoon the year’s events, politicians, and more. Around 90% of the Icelandic nation watches the “Áramótaskaup” so the streets are virtually deserted while it is on. The New Year’s madness starts at 23:30 when the final credits roll, and at midnight all hell breaks loose. The city of Reykjavík is like a war zone, but with a crazy and amazing pyrotechnics display! In Iceland fireworks are sold unrestricted to the public between Christmas and New Years, and this small nation of 320,000 people manages to fire off over 500 tons of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. When most of the madness is over and everyone has toasted with some bubbly, people either head out to parties or downtown to go clubbing, where they party until the wee hours of the morning.

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ADVENT AREAS Reykjavik is a true Christmas city with various events going on every day of December all over town. There are fun Christmas Parcels scattered throughout the city, containing events involving everything from culture to food, horse riding to sailing, singing to shopping and much, much more. The Advent Areas are to be found all over the capital, ensuring that the Holiday spirit is felt in the hearts of all those visiting Reykjavik during this magical time. Check them all out and partake in our holiday joy!

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN HEIÐMÖRK Where: Elliðavatn, 25 min. drive from downtown Reykjavik. When: Every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas from 11-16 Admission: Free Further information: www.heidmork.is The Christmas market in Heiðmörk is open for four weekends before Christmas. At the market there are craftsmen and designers presenting and selling their products. Some of them only participate in the market for one day so there is a lot of diversity in the market from day to day. The forestry association of Reykjavik creates a Christmas atmosphere, with a fireplace in the middle of the square and events like Christmas choirs, harmonica players and readings from writers. We will have several kinds of Christmas trees, firewood and refreshments for sale.

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CHRISTMAS FOREST Where: Heiðmörk Forest, Elliðavatn, 25 min. drive from downtown Reykjavik. When: December 8-9, 15-16, 22-23 Every day at the Christmas Forest will be merry, with a campfire, Santa Claus, hot chocolate and ginger bread. Visitors can borrow a saw and pick a Christmas tree in the forest to take home. Those who don´t feel like looking for a tree can get one from the ranger. A great tradition – allowing people to select their own trees for the holidays!

THE REYKJAVIK CITY HALL’S CHRISTMAS FOREST When: 11 December to 6 January Where: The City Hall Price: Free This year the Reykjavík City Hall will be transformed in to a Christmas-Forest from December 11th to January 6th. The Forest is celebrating the European year of active ageing and is designed by Steinunn Sigurdardottir and City Hall events team. The forest consists of many Christmas trees and artifacts from the Reykjavik’s History Museum with decorations designed and hand made by Reykjavik’s senior citizens. The Icelandic yule-lads will be making an appearance, companied with musicians of all shapes and


sizes. The grand opening will take place on December 11th at 3 pm by the Mayor of Reykjavík. After a speech from the Mayor the Senior Citizens Choir and the excellent Accordion Society will perform, followed by an example of our young and brightest classical prodigies. At the same time, in collaboration with the established Katla pastries, the City Hall will also be the home of the annual Gingerbread House Competition. Over the years we have seen truly magical pieces of art from creative contestants, and this year will be no exception. The reward-ceremony will be held on December 16th at 3 pm, but the Gingerbread houses will be on display until December 21st. Come and enjoy the soothing atmosphere, and take a break from the nerveracking Christmas preparation which for some reason has become the inevitable counterpart of our modern day celebration of light harmony and peace.

Park and Zoo, ice-skate around a decorated Christmas tree on the skating rink, walk around the Botanic Garden, visit Ásmundarsafn, (The Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum) stop by Café Flora on the weekends for hot chocolate and roasted almonds and go for a nice swim in Laugardalslaug. In Laugardalur you may expect to run into the Yule Cat – one of many Icelandic Christmas Creatures. The cat resides in Reykjavík Park and Zoo but sometimes sneaks around in other parts of Laugardalur. Look out for a quiet meow and look out for paw tracks. Welcome to the Christmas Valley!

CHRISTMAS VALLEY Where: Laugardalur When: All December Admission: Fee in some places In December the whole family can have fun together in Laugardalur where Christmas lights and decorations set the mood for a festive advent. Prepare for a day out visiting the animals in Reykjavik

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 27


CHRISTMAS ISLAND Where: Viðey Island – Ferry departs from Skarfabakki When: All December (Only on weekends/ midweeks available for groups) Admission: Ferry 1.100 ISK, 550 for children 7-15. The smell of cinnamon and pines will fill the air in Viðey Christmas Island before and during the festivities from end of November through December. Let Viðey bring you into the Christmas spirit where old and new traditions meet in the charming and enjoyable surroundings of the old. Bring out the child or the artist in yourself, cutting out decorations in “Laufabrauð” by the candlelight or try your skill icing gingerbread.

28 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

If decorating is not your thing, you can admire the gingerbread replicas of the Viðeyjarstofa house itself and the Viðeyjarkirkja church. Once you are done with entertaining your artistic and visual senses, you can top it off with entertaining your taste buds by savouring the traditional Icelandic and international Christmas dishes while listening to beautiful music performed by two young renowned musicians.

CHRISTMAS HARBOR Where: Reykjavík’s old Harbour, Ægisgarður, Grandi and Suðurbugt, 101 Reykjavik When: December The Old Harbour welcomes guests from all around the world during the advent. Our aim is to share our


Christmas spirit and give guests insight into the Icelandic festivities and traditions. We’ve set the stage by decorating the area with great ambition. We offer range of activities in the run up to Christmas such as live music, markets and workshops. The restaurants in the area offer interesting menus with seasonal food and drink, unique to their styles and spirits. The local artists and craftsmen have been busy preparing their collection for the coming Christmas shopping. Their small shops and galleries are ideal to browse for gifts and souvenirs. In the area you also have the option of taking on some adventures, by bike, boat or by visiting the educational cinemas in the harbour. Come and be touched by the magic of our festivities in the old harbour in the run-up to the holidays.

CHRISTMAS MARKET YULE TOWN Where: Ingólfstorg, 101 Reykjavík When: Every Saturday and Sunday from 12-22 The Yule Town in Reykjavík consists of small and beautiful Christmas houses that will be placed on Ingólfstorg in mid-December, right in the heart of Reykjavik. The Yule Town offers a wide selection of design gifts, handcrafts, Christmas decorations, delicious food, drinks and all kinds of entertainment by musicians, singers, poets, writers and a variety of artists.

CHRISTMAS HOUR Where: Lækjartorg Square When: Pre-booking required. asta@nema.is/+354-821-2428 Admission: € 20 / $ 25 Further information: hafnarloftid.is Icelandic Christmas Hour in the Heart of Old Reykjavík. An intimate holiday rendezvous in a cozy library room in Lækjartorg Square. Hosts Ásta Kristrún and the well known musician and writer Valgeir Guðjónsson, bring to live the spirit of old and new Christmas and New Year traditions and myths, through stories, songs and dialougue in English, Scandinavian or Icelandic(!) We also offer different programs on history, literature and culture, sometimes mixed with a light musical touch.

COUNTING THE DAYS Where: Árbær Open Air Museum, Kistuhyl, 110 Reykjavík When: 8, 15, 22 Dec. from 13–17 Admission: +18: 1.200 ISK Further information: Minjasafnreykjavikur.is The ever popular Christmas program at the Árbær Open Air Museum has become a fixture of the Reykjavík´s Christmas calendar. Visitors will enjoy experiencing the Christmas preparation and celebration of days gone by. This includes preparation of traditional Icelandic Christmas food and crafts. Playful Yule Lads peep through windows and play tricks on guests.

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 29


IT‘S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS Where: Árbær Open Air Museum When: Daily in December at 13:00 except 24th, 25th and 31st. Admission: (+18): 1.200 ISK Árbær Open Air Museum is extending its services during the winter season. There is now a guided tour every day at 13. In December the emphasis will be on Christmas preparation and celebration of days gone by. As well as learning about the Yule Lads (traditional Icelandic Santa Clauses) guests will also get the chance to taste the traditional Icelandic Christmas Bread (Laufabrauð) and Christmas ale.

YULE – MID WINTER CELEBRATION Where: The Settlement Exhibition, Aðalstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík When: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 14 Admission: +18: 1200 ISK Further information: Minjasafnreykjavikur.is

30 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

The celebration of winter solstice was an integral part of Icelandic community before the adoption of Christianity in the year 1000. After the adoption this celebration was integrated with the Christian Christmas Celebration. Thus, Icelandic Christmas are historically two celebrations: Celebrating the birth of Christ and celebrating the beginning of the lengthening daylight hours. The Icelandic word for Christmas, Jól, contains no reference to Christ. It is originally a Norse word, also known in Old English as Yule. Guests will learn about these winter solstice celebration and its effect on lives of people in Viking Age Reykjavík.


CHRISTMAS FAMILY ACTIVITY GAME Where: The National Museum of Iceland, Suðurgata 41 When: Daily in December between 11 and 17 Admission: 1200 ISK, free for children In December families are welcome to take part in the Christmas activity game at the National Museum of Iceland. The game, The Search for the Christmas Cat, is available in five languages. It is a great opportunity for families to learn together about Icelandic heritage in an entertaining way.

THE ICELANDIC YULEAN ILLUSTRATED PRESENTATION Where: The National Museum of Iceland, Suðurgata 41 When: December 15 at 12 Admission: Free Dr. Terry Gunnell, Head of Folkloristic at the University of Iceland will give an illustrated presentation in English reviewing the beliefs and traditions of Icelandic Christmas traditions in the past and present.

32 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

CHRISTMAS EXHIBITIONS Where: The National Museum of Iceland, Suðurgata 41 When: December 1 - 31 Admission: 1200 ISK, free for children On the 3rd floor an exhibition on Christmas trees and decorations from different periods. And the exhibition “Knowing the Yuletide Lads” on the ground floor.

THE ICELANDIC YULETIDE LADS Where: The National Museum of Iceland, Suðurgata 41 When: December 12 - 24 at 11 Admission: Free Every day at 11 o‘clock an Icelandic Yuletide lad visits the museum. The programme is thought for children and is very popular.

NORDIC HOUSE ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CALENDAR When: 1-23 December, 12:34 Where: The Nordic House, Sturlugata 5, 101 Reykjavik Admission: Free Further information: Nordice.is The Christmas calendar in the Nordic House takes place daily


THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

in the festival hall in December until Christmas. The first window of the calendar will be opened on December 1, and the audience will then get to know about the performance of the day. The participating artists this year are among our best, but we will not disclose the order in which they perform. Therefore it’s always going to be exciting to open a new window. We will for instance see and hear music, dance, reading, performance, yoga, or a game that the audience participates in. The calendar itself is produced in only one exemplar, and will be found in the front hall of The Nordic House this December. Before every performance we offer the audience non-alcoholic mulled wine and gingerbread.

Where: Hafnarfjörður, 20 minutes from downtown Reykjavík with bus nr. 1 When: Open every weekend till Christmas from 13:00-18:00, except on December 23 when it will close at 22:00 The Christmas Village offers a wide selection of gifts, Christmas decorations and delicious foodstuffs. Live musical and theatrical performances are on the program, as well as the opportunity to meet Grýla, the ogress who is the mother of Iceland’s very own Yule Lads bringing gifts to good children for the thirteen nights until Christmas Eve. For gift shopping, Hafnarfjörður has a variety of shops, conveniently located in the compact centre of the town, plus a selection of excellent restaurants and cafés. Close to nature, Hafnarfjörður offers nature walks through lava fields, magnificent geothermal springs, horse-riding, Viking banquets, Elf spotting and last but not least free admission to museums.

CHRISTMAS FUN Where: Smáralind shopping mall, 200-Kópavogur When: December The Fun Park offers a wide variety of indoor amusements. Enjoy the first 7D Cinema in the world, allowing you to take part in an adventure with a perfect blend of a computer game and a movie while you experience the unique sensation of full participation. The Fun Park is an exceptional recreation area with bumper cars, a drop tower, an arcade floor, laser tag arena, pool and darts as well as a sport bar where you can watch the most interesting sports events at any given time. Come and visit us in December – we are in our best Christmas mood

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 33


ADVENT THROUGHOUT THE AREAS Each Advent Area in Reykjavík is dedicated to one of our many cultural themes or traditional specialities; be it horse-riding, sailing, a unique shopping experience or a simple good, oldfashioned, sing–along — all events are created to provide an entertaining and educational experience, in a lovely, cosy atmosphere. Our Advent Areas are distributed throughout the city, with most of them concentrated in and around the city centre. Find out more about what’s all wrapped up in Reykjavík this Christmas at christmas.visitreykjavik.is


MERRY CHRISTMAS! GLEÐILEG JÓL!


HAPPY NEW YEAR! GLEÐILEGT NÝTT ÁR!


HOLIDAY OPENINGS Icelanders are pretty serious about their Christmas celebrations and people like to spend quality time with family and friends so consequently things tend to slow down a little. In an effort to make life a little easier for those of you who are spending the holidays in Iceland, we have put together a list of available services on those days when most places are closed.

RESTAURANTS DECEMBER 24TH - LUNCH Ali Baba Babalú Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café Haiti Café Paris Fjalakötturinn Gamla Smiðjan Gamla / Old Island Café Kaffi Sólon Nora Magasin Restaurant 1919 Satt Skruður Restaurant Slippbarinn Sæmundur í Spari... Tabasco’s Uppsalir Volcano House Rest... Vox

Veltusund 3b Skólavörðustígur 22 Grand Hotel Bus Terminal Geirsgata 7b Austurstræti 14 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Lækjargata 8 Laugavegur 72 Bankastræti 7a Pósthússtræti 9 Pósthússtræti 2 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Hotel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hafnarstræti 1-3 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Tryggvagata 11 Hótel Nordica

445 4445 Open til 16:00 555 8845 Open until 18:30 514 8000 Open 552 1288 Open until 17:00 588 8484 Open until 12:00 551 1020 Open 09:00-14:00 514 6060 Open 578 8555 Open 11:30-16:00 551 6131 Open 562 3232 Open 12:00-17:00 578 2010 Open until 16:00 599 1050 Open 444 4050 Open 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open 581 8080 Open 511 1980 Open 514 6060 Open until 15:00 555 1900 Open 444 5050 Open

DECEMBER 24TH - DINNER Bambus Borg Restaurant Brasserie Grand Fjalakötturinn Gamla / Old Island Café Kaffi Sólon Restaurant 1919 Restaurant Reykjavik Satt Skólabrú Skruður Restaurant Slippbarinn Sæmundur í sparifötunum Tabasco’s Vox

Borgartún Pósthússtræti 11 Grand Hótel Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Laugavegur 72 Bankastræti 7a Pósthússtræti 2 Vesturgata 2 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Pósthússtræti 17 Hotel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hafnarstræti 1-3 Hotel Nordica

38 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

517 0123 Open 578 2020 Open 514 8000 Open* 514 6060 Open* 551 6131 Open until 21:00* 562 3232 17:00-20:00 599 1050 Open 552 3030 Open 444 4050 Open* 511 1690 Open* 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open until 20:00 581 8080 Open til 20:00 511 1980 Open 444-5050 Open until 20:00


DECEMBER 25TH - LUNCH Babalú Borg Restaurant Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café Paris Fjalakötturinn Gamla / Old Island Café Nora Magasin Restaurant 1919 Satt Skrúður Restaurant Slippbarinn Sæmundur í sparifötunum Tabasco’s Uppsalir Volcano House Restaurant Vox

Skólavörðustígur 22 Pósthússtræti 11 Grand Hótel Bus Terminal Austurstræti 14 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Laugavegur 72 Pósthússtræti 9 Pósthússtræti 2 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Hótel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hafnarstræti 1-3 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Tryggvagata 11 Hotel Nordica

555 8845 Open 578 2020 Open 514 8000 Open 552 1288 Open 551 1020 Open from 10:00 514 6060 Open 551 6131 Open 578 2010 Open until 16:00 599 1050 Open 444 4050 Open 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open 581 8080 Open 511 1980 Open 514 6060 Open until 15:00 555 1900 Open 444-5050 Open

DECEMBER 25TH - DINNER Babalú Bambus Borg Restaurant Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café Paris Gamla / Old Island Café Hereford Steakh. Restaurant 1919 Restaurant Reykjavik Satt Scandinavian Skólabrú Skrúður Slippbarinn Sæmundur í sparifötunum Tabasco’s Vox

Skólavörðustígur 22 Borgartún Pósthússtræti 11 Grand Hótel Bus Terminal Austurstræti 14 Laugavegur 72 Laugavegur 53b Pósthússtræti 2 Vesturgata 2 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Laugavegur 22a Pósthússtræti 17 Hótel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hafnarstræti 1-3 Hotel Nordica

555 8845 Open 517 0123 Open 578 2020 Open 514 8000 Open* 552 1288 Open 551 1020 Open until 01:00 551 6131 Open until 21:00 * 511 3350 Open* 599 1050 Open 552 3030 Open 444 4050 Open* 578 4888 17:00-23:00 511 1690 Open 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open until 20.00 581 8080 Open til 20:00 511 1980 Open 444-5050 Open until 22:30

* must reserve

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 39


DECEMBER 26TH - JUST LUNCH Nora Magasin

Pósthússtræti 9

578 2010

Open until 16:00

DECEMBER 26TH - LUNCH & DINNER Babalú Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café Paris Fish Market Fjalakötturinn Gamla Smiðjan Hornið Restaurant Kaffi Sólon Lækjarbrekka Restaurant 1919 Restaurant/Bar 101 Rossopomodoro Satt Scandinavian Skrúður Slippbarinn Sæmundur í sparifötunum Tabasco’s Uppsalir Vegamót Volcano House Restaurant Vox

Skólavörðustígur 22 Grand Hótel Bus Terminal Austurstræti 14 Aðalstræti 12 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Lækjargata 8 Hafnarstræti 15 Bankastræti 7a Bankastæti 2 Pósthússtræti 2 Hverfisgata 10 Laugavegur 40a Hótel Reykjavik Natura Laugavegur 22a Hótel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hafnarstræti 1-3 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Vegamótastíg 4 Tryggvagata 11 Hótel Nordica

555-8845 Open 514-8000 Open 552 1288 Open 551 1020 Open 578 8877 Open 514 6060 Open 578 8555 Open 551 3340 Open 562 3232 Open from 12:00 551 4430 Open 599 1050 Open 580 0101 Open 561 0500 Open 444 4050 Open 578 4888 Open 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open 581 8080 Open 511 1980 Open 514 6060 Open 511 3040 Open 555 1900 Open 514 5050 Open

DECEMBER 26TH - JUST DINNER Ali Baba Bambus Borg Restaurant Caruso Fish Company Gamla / Old Island Café Ghandi Grillhúsið Grillið Radisson Blu Grillmarkaðurinn Hereford Steakh. Humarhúsið Kopar Potturinn og pannan Restaurant Reykjavik Sjávargrillið Skólabrú Trio Við Tjörnina

Veltusund 3b Borgartún Pósthússtræti 11 Þingholtsstræti 1 Vesturgata 2a Laugavegur 72 Pósthússtæti 17 Tryggvagata 20 Hotel Saga Lækjargata 2a Laugavegur 53b Amtmannsstigur 1 Geirsgata 3 Pósthússtræti 17 Vesturgata 2 Skólavörðustig 14 Pósthússtræti 17 Austurstræti 8 Templarasund 3

40 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

445 4445 517 0123 578 2020 562 7335 552 5300 551 6131 511 1691 527 5000 525 9960 571 7777 511 3350 561 3303 567 2700 511 1690 552 3030 571 1100 511 1690 544 8746 551 8666

Open Open Open Open Open Open until 21:00 Open open from 16:00 Open Open Open Open 18:00-23:30 Open Open Open Open Open Open


DECEMBER 31ST - JUST LUNCH Café Haiti Café Loki Fish and Chips Hamburgerjoint Nora Magasin Skrúður Uppsalir Volcano House Restaurant

Geirsgata 7b Lokastíg 28 Tryggvagata 8 Geirsgata1 Pósthússtræti 9 Hótel Saga Hótel Reykjavík Centrum Tryggvagata 11

588 8484 466 2828 511 1118 511 1888 578 2010 525 9970 514 6060 555 1900

Open until 12:00 Open until 16.00 Open until 16:00 Open until 16:00 Open until 16:00 Open* Open until 15:00 Open

DECEMBER 31ST - LUNCH & DINNER Babalú Bambus Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café París Fjalakötturinn Gamla / Old Island Café Gamla Smiðjan Kaffi Sólon Lækjarbrekka Restaurant 1919 Restaurant/Bar 101 Satt Slippbarinn Snaps Sæmundur í sparifötunum Vox

Skólavörðustígur 22 Borgartún Grand Hótel Bus Terminal Austurstræti 14 Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Laugavegur 72 Lækjargata 8 Bankastræti 7a Bankastræti 2 Pósthússtræti 2 Hverfisgata 10 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Mýrargata 2 Þórsgata 1 Kex Hostel Hótel Nordica

555 8845 Open 517 0123 Open 514 8000 Open* 552 1288 Open 551 1020 Open until 18:00 514 6060 Open* 551 6131 Open until 21:00 * 578 8555 Open 562 3232 Open until 21:00 * 551 4430 Open 599 1050 Open 580 0101 Open 444 4050 Open* 560 8080 Open 511 6677 Open 581 8080 Open til 22:00 * 444 5050 Open until 22:30

DECEMBER 31ST - JUST DINNER Borg Restaurant Caruso Dill Restaurant Fishcompany Ítalía Kolabrautin Kopar Restaurant Reykjavík Sjávargrillið Skolabru Steikhúsið Sushi Samba Tapasbarinn Tapashúsið Við Tjörnina

Pósthússtræti 11 Þingholtsstræti 1 Sturlugata 5 Vesturgata 2a Laugavegur 11 Austurbakki 2 Geirsgata 3 Vesturgata 2 Skólavörðustig 14 Pósthússtræti 17 Tryggvagata 4-6 Þingolstræti 5 Vesturgötu 3b Ægisgarður 2 Templarasund 3

578 2020 Open 561 7334 Open 552 1522 Open* 552 5300 Open 552 4630 Open 16:00-23:00 519 9700 Open 567 2700 18:00-22:00 552 3030 Open 571 1100 Open 511 1690 Open 561 1111 Open 568 6600 Open 551 2344 Open 512 8181 Open 551 8666 Open

* must reserve

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 41


JANUARY 1ST - JUST LUNCH Fish and Chips Hamborgarabúllan Bankastræti 5 511 1886 Uppsalir Hótel Reykjavík Centrum 514 6060 Volcano House Restaurant Tryggvagata 11 555 1900

Open Open Open Open

JANUARY 1ST - LUNCH & DINNER American Style Babalú Brasserie Grand BSÍ Bistró Café París Eldsmiðjan Pizzeria Fishmarket Fjalakötturinn Gamla Smiðjan Hamborgarafabrikkan Kaffi Sólon Lækjarbrekka Perlan Restaurant 1919 Restaurant/Bar 101 Satt Skrúður Slippbarinn Sæmundur í sparifötunum Vox

Tryggvagata 26 Skólavörðustígur 22 Grand Hótel Bus Terminal Austurstræti 14 Laugavegur 81 Aðalstræti Hotel Reykjavík Centrum Lækjargata 8 Höfðatúni 2 Bankastræti 7a Bankastræti 2 Öskjuhlíð Pósthússtræti 2 Hverfisgata 10 Hótel Reykjavik Natura Hótel Saga Mýrargata 2 Kex Hostel Hotel Nordica

511 2700 Open 555 8845 Open 514 8000 Open 552 1288 Open 551 1020 Open from 10:00 562 3838 Open 578 8877 Open 514 6060 Open 578 8555 Open 575 7575 Open 562 3232 Open from 15:00 551 4430 Open 562 0200 Open* 599 1050 Open 580 0101 Open 444 4050 Open 525 9970 Open* 560 8080 Open until 20:00 581 8080 Open* 514 5050 Open until 22:30

JANUARY 1ST - JUST DINNER Ali-Baba Caruso Dill Restaurant Fishcompany Geysir Bistro Grillmarkaðurinn Hereford Steakhouse Humarhúsið Ítalía Kolabrautin Kopar Restaurant Reykjavík Rossopomodoro Scandinavian Sjávargrillið Steikhusið Tapasbarinn Tapashúsið Trio

Veltusund 3b Þingholtsstræti 1 Sturlugata 5 Vesturgata 2a Aðalstræti 2 Lækjargata 2a Laugavegur 53b Amtmannastígur 1 Laugavegur 11 Austurbakki 2 Geirsgata 3 Vesturgata 2 Laugavegur 40a Laugavegur 22a Skólavörðustig 14 Tryggvagata 4-6 Vesturgötu 3b Ægisgarður 2 Austurstræti 8

445 4445 Open from 15:00 561 7334 Open 552 1522 Open* 552 5300 Open* 517 4300 Open 571 7777 Open 511 3350 Open* 561 3303 Open 552 4630 Open 16:00-23:00 519 9700 Open 567 2700 18:00-23:30 552 3030 Open 561 0500 Open 578 4888 Open 571 1100 Open 561 1111 Open 551 2344 Open 512 8181 Open 544 8746 Open

* must reserve

42 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide


SOUVENIR SHOP S HOP OF THE YE AR 20 1 2

The viking:info Laugavegur 1 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 1 - 3 · Reykjavík Hafnarstræti 104 · Akureyri e:info@theviking.is

Akureyri Reykjavík

www.theviking.is TAX FREE


MUSEUM OPENINGS DECEMBER 23RD Árbæjarsafn - Open Air Museum Guided tour 13:00 Hafnarborg 12:00-17:00 Reykjavík Art Museum - Ásmundarsafn 13:00-17:00 Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhúsið 10:00-17:00 Reykjavík Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaðir 10:00-17:00 Reykjavík Museum of Photography 10:00-19:00 Saga Museum in Perlan 12:00-17:00 The National Museum 11:00-17:00 The Phallic Museum 11:00-18:00 The Settlement Exhibition 10:00-17:00 Volcano House 09:00-22:00

DECEMBER 24TH Saga Museum in Perlan The Settlement Exhibition Volcano House

12:00-14:00 10:00-14:00 09:00-16:00

DECEMBER 25TH Volcano House

12:00-18:00

DECEMBER 26TH Reykjavík Art Museum - Ásmundarsafn Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhúsið Reykjavík Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaðir The National Museum The Settlement Exhibition The Phallic Museum Volcano House

13:00-17:00 13:00-17:00 13:00-17:00 11:00 - 17:00 13:00-17:00 12:00-16:00 09:00-22:00

DECEMBER 31ST Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhúsið Reykjavík Museum of Photography Saga Museum in Perlan The Settlement Exhibition The Phallic Museum Volcano House

10:00-14:00 10:00-14:00 12:00-16:00 10:00-14:00 12:00-16:00 09:00-16:00

JANUARY 1ST Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhúsið Reykjavík Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaðir The Settlement Exhibition Volcano House

44 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

13:00-17:00 13:00-17:00 13:00-17:00 12:00-18:00


THERMAL POOLS Nothing beats a soak in the hot tub in the winter darkness with steam wafting up from the geothermal heated water and the stars twinkling above. Sure, it can take a bit of effort to run out into the cold, wearing only your swimsuit, but once you’re immersed in that silky warm water it is completely worth it. The capital area boasts 16 public pools that are open almost every day during the holidays. The largest of the pools, Laugardalslaug, is only closed for one day during the Christmas season. Here are the opening hours of the ones in Reykjavik during the holidays.

ÁRBÆJARLAUG December 23th December 24th December 25th December 26th December 31st January 1st

09:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 08:00-12:30 Closed

KLÉBERGSLAUG December 23th December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

11:00-18:00 10:00-12:30 Closed 10:00-12:30 Closed

LAUGARDALSLAUG December 23th December 24th December 25th December 26th December 31st January 1st

08:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 12:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 12:30-18:00

SUNDHÖLLIN

09:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 12:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed

December 23th December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

09:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 08:00-12:30 Closed

December 23th December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

BREIÐHOLTSLAUG December 23th December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

GRAFARVOGSLAUG December 23th December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

10:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 08:00-12:30 Closed

VESTURBÆJARLAUG

46 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

09:00-18:00 08:00-12:30 Closed 08:00-12:30 Closed


THE HOLIDAY EVENT CALENDAR CHRISTMAS AT HARPAN KRISTJÁN JÓHANNSON CHRISTMAS CONCERT December 8th Icelandic tenor Kristján Jóhannsson is one of the leading dramatic tenors of our time with his mesmerizing performances of Italian and French opera. In this grand and festive Christmas concert Kristján invites some of Iceland‘s leading opera singers to join him in celebration of Christmas. Kristján’s guests this evening will be internationally acclaimed bass Kristinn Sigmundsson, Þóra Einarsdóttir soprano and Dísella Lárusdóttir soprano. The singers will be accompanied by the Women’s Choir, conducted by Margrét Pálmadóttir and a

48 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

symphonic orchestra conducted by Guðmundur Óli Gunnarsson. The evening will feature classical Christmas songs as well as some well-known arias, a perfect way to welcome Christmas in Reykjavik. CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS HOUR Every Saturday in December between 11- 13 pm A special programme for our youngest visitors. We offer a cosy couple of hours with Christmas song, book readings and live music. Maximus Musicus will make an appearance. GOURMET CHRISTMAS MARKET December 14th Gourmet store Búrið will set up their growing Christmas market in Harpa this year. Everything you need for the holiday menu.


THE ICELAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CHRISTMAS CONCERT Decmber 14th and 15th The ISO’s Christmas concerts have become an indispensable part of many Icelandic families’s holiday celebrations. This year, as before, the festival atmosphere will have free rein, with favourite Yuletide songs and classical ballet music at the centre of the stage. The Master of Ceremonies is the one-and-only Gói, whose brilliant performances for children and adults have become enormously popular. The concert will be interpreted in Icelandic sign language. STOMP December 18th to 21st STOMP, the British theatrical sensation that has become a truly global phenomenon, comes to Reykjavik. With brand new routines, new choreography and new music STOMP is now fresher, faster and funnier than ever! If you have never experienced Stomp then this is your chance to see why this breathtaking show thrills audiences around the world. With its unique combination of theatre, dance, comedy and percussion, eight performers use boots, bins, brooms and everything including the kitchen sink to hammer out an explosively feel good rhythm. THE REYKJAVÍK CHAMBER ORCHESTRA‘S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CONCERT December 22th The Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The orchestra‘s annual Christmas concert has for many become an essential part of the season, this year featuring festive baroque music by Händel and Telemann, with the young award winning trumpet virtuoso Jóhann Már Nardeau as soloist.

BUBBI MORTHENS - ANNUAL DECEMBER CONCERT Decmber 23rd HOW TO BECOME ICELANDIC IN 60 MINUTES Decmber 27th to 30th Bjarni Haukur Thorsson teaches you everything you need to know about being Icelandic, in just one hour. You will learn how to walk, talk and behave like a regular Icelander. Additionally you will learn why eating sour sheep balls might save your life. The show is much more than a stand up comedy routine, it is a hilarious blend of incisive and visual observation of the Icelandic human condition, their attitudes, struggles and everyday life. You will laugh and learn and at the end of the show leave the theater feeling 100% Icelandic. PEARLS OF ICELANDIC SONG NEW YEAR’S CONCERTS Decmber 28th to January 2nd On our New Year’s program, we will sing Icelandic songs and folk music of elves, trolls and outlaws. We will tell the stories behind the songs and we will introduce to you the traditions of Icelandic Christmas and New Year. Performing are the young rising soprano Lilja Guðmundsdóttir and one of Iceland’s most well known opera singer, Bjarni Thor Kristinsson. Matthildur Anna Gísladóttir is playing the Piano. The Program is sung in Icelandic and moderated in English. CHILDREN‘S CHRISTMAS BALL Decmber 29th For the first time, Harpa organises a traditional and entertaining Christmas ball for families. Dances around the Christmas tree, cocoa, coffee and cakes, music and laughter. Maximus Musicus our resident mouse makes an appearance as well as the Icelandic yule lads of course.

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VARIOUS EVENTS IN DECEMBER SUNDAY, DEC 1ST

FRIDAY, DEC 20TH

Hafnarborg Curator’s Talk Guided tour of the exhibition Beside the Deep Waters.

Kjarvalsstaðir Concert: Tríó Reykjavík

TUESDAY, DEC 3RD Hafnarborg Lunch Time Concert with clarinet player Rúnar Óskarsson and pianist Antonía Hevesi. WEDNESDAY, DEC 4TH Gerduberg Culture Center Handicraft and coffee session – Printing for Christmas SATURDAY, DEC 7TH Kjarvalsstaðir Gallery talk in connection with the exhibition Kjarval Complete 2: The Banks‘ Collections The Nordic House Markowitz/Andersson/Mogensen SUNDAY, DEC 8TH Viðey Imagine Peace Intercultural gathering and workshop for families in Viðey Island. TUESDAY, DEC 10TH Hafnarhús Talk Series THURSDAY, DEC 12TH Gullregnið, Kópavogur Art from Lava and More Icelandic artists show their handmade art made from lava and other works. SATURDAY, DEC 14TH Hafnarhús Guided tour with the Museum Belt The National Museum of Iceland The Icelandic Yule - An Illustrated Presentation in English THURSDAY, DEC 19TH Hafnafjarðarkirkja Mozart by Candlelight

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Kópavogskirkja Mozart by Candlelight SATURDAY, DEC 21ST Garðakirkja Mozart by Candlelight SUNDAY, DEC 22ND Dómkirkjan Mozart by Candlelight MONDAY, DEC 23RD Þorláksmessa TUESDAY, DEC 24TH Aðfangadagur WEDNESDAY, DEC 25TH Jóladagur THURSDAY, DEC 26TH Annar í Jólum SATURDAY, DEC 28TH LAUGARASVEGUR 29 Jon Thormodsson, author of a 1,300-page book, Peace and War: Niagara of Quotations, talks in English in his home on peace and war and answers questions. TUESDAY, DEC 31ST Gamlársdagur


HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHRISTMAS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013 ADVENT MUSIC AND MEDITATION WITH THE KLAIS ORGAN. December 5th Free entrance. CHRISTMAS CONCERT WITH THE HALLGRIMSKIRKJA’S MOTET CHOIR AND SOPRAN STAR DIDDÚ Dececember 7th and 8th Admission: 3.900 / 2.500 ISK. ADVENT LUNCHTIME CONCERT December 11th SCHOLA CANTORUM chamber choir of Hallgrímskirkja. Admission 2000 ISK. NOON ADVENT MUSIC AND MEDITATION WITH THE KLAIS ORGAN. December 12 Thursday Free entrance.

ORGAN CONCERT WITH ADVENT MUSIC. December 13, Friday The Klais organ’s 21st birthday. Björn Steinar Sólbergsson plays works by César Franck, J.S. Bach and Andrew Carter. Admission 1500 ISK. CHRISTMAS LUNCHTIME CONCERT December 18, Wednesday SCHOLA CANTORUM chamber choir of Hallgrímskirkja. Conductor: Hörður Áskelsson. Admission 2000 ISK. NOON CHRISTMAS MUSIC AND MEDITATION WITH THE KLAIS ORGAN. December 19 Thursday Free entrance. SPIRITUAL STANDARDS December 20, Friday Jan von Klewitz saxophone and Markus Burger piano. In cooperation with the German Embassy in Iceland. Free entrance. ORGAN CONCERT – BAROQUE AT CHRISTMAS! December 29, Sunday Björn Steinar Sólbergsson plays works by Bach, Buxtehude and D’Aquin. Admission 2500 ISK. FESTIVE SOUNDS AT NEW YEARS EVE! December 31st Three trumpets, timpany and organ. Famous works by Bach, Albinoni, Charpentier. Ásgeir H. Steingrímsson, Eiríkur Örn Pálsson, Einar St. Jónsson trumpets, Eggert Pálsson timpany and Hörður Áskelsson organ. Admission 3000 ISK Ticket sale at Hallgrimskirkja, tel 510 1000 open daily 9 am - 5 pm and at midi.is

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 51


THE NORDIC HOUSE DECEMBER EVENTS The Nordic House in ReykjavĂ­k is a cultural institution opened in 1968 and operated by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Its goal is to foster and support cultural connections between Iceland and the other Nordic countries. To this end the Nordic House organizes a diverse program of cultural events and exhibitions Nestling in the heart of Reykjavik the Nordic House offers events, design shopping, the world famous restaurant DILL and a unique Nordic Library, all presented in a beautiful building designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

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The Christmas calendar in the Nordic House takes place daily in the festival hall in December until Christmas. Each day at precisely 12:34 a new window of the calendar is opened. The daily performances are not advertised, but rather kept secret until they take place. The participating artists this year are among our best, with well-known names such as Emiliana Torrini, Hugleikur Dagsson, Jóhanna Guðrún, Ólafur Stefánsson and more. The fun of the calendar is that we know who are performing, but not the order of they appearance! Therefore it’s always going to be exciting to open a new window. We will for instance see and hear music, dance, reading, performance, yoga, or a game that the audience participates in.

The calendar itself is produced in only one exemplar, and will be found in the front hall of The Nordic House this December. Sara Riel, artist, created the calendar this year. Before every performance we offer the audience non-alcoholic mulled wine and gingerbread. Everyone is welcome to attend, and there is no entrance fee.

THE NORDIC HOUSE Sturlugötu 5 101 Reykjavík, Iceland www.norraenahusid.is Tel.: +354 551 7030 E-mail: nh@nordice.is OPENING HOURS Library: 12:00-17:00 every day. Exhibition Space: Tue-Sun: 12:00-17:00

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 53


HALLGRÍMSKIRJA’S CHRISTMAS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013 Friends of the Arts Society invites to the Hallgrimskirkja´s Christmas Music Festival 2013 with a great program of different events full of festive spirit December 1st – 31st. It starts with a choir concert December 1st at 5 pm with Hallgrimskirkja´s Chamber Choir Schola cantorum, performing Advent and Christmas music by Pärt, MacMillan e.c. and a world premiére of Christmas Carols by icelandis composer Hafliði Hallgrímsson. The Festival includes 11 concerts, with the acclaimed house choirs and organists. One of the highlights is the Motet Choir´s Christmas concert accompanied by Famous soprano Diddú, young trumpet player Baldvin Oddsson and organist Björn Steinar

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Sólbergsson (Dec 7./8.) Another highlight the popular annual Festive Sounds at New years eve (Dec 31st) with three trumpets, Timpani and organ offering a program of well known pieces. The famous Klais organ will sound in lunch time concert on the 21st anniversary of the Klais organ, Dec 13 and between Christmas and New Year on Dec 29. There is also one Jazz concert in cooperation with the German Embassy in Icelandthe worlld famous Spiritual Standards Duo with outstanding German and Dutch musicians playing German and international Christmas songs on saxophone and piano, free entrance See more information on hallgrimskirkja.is.


Hallgrimskirkja Friends of the Arts Society 32. season

HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHRISTMAS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013

December 1st - December 31st 2013

SCHOLA CANTORUM LUNCH TIME CONCERTS December 11 & 18, Wednesdays 12.00-12.30 noon ADVENT LUNCHTIME CONCERT SCHOLA CANTORUM chamber choir of Hallgrímskirkja Admission 2000 ISK.

December 20, Friday 7.30 pm SPIRITUAL STANDARDS Jan von Klewitz saxophone and Markus Burger piano. In cooperation with the German Embassy in Iceland. Free entrance.

December 13, Friday 12.00–12.30 noon ORGAN CONCERT - Advent music. The Klais organ’s 21st anniversary Björn Steinar Sólbergsson plays works by César Franck, J.S. Bach and Andrew Carter. Admission 1500 ISK. December 29, Sunday 5 pm ORGAN CONCERT BAROQUE AT CHRISTMAS! Björn Steinar Sólbergsson plays works by Bach, Buxtehude and D’Aquin. Admission 2500 ISK.

December 31, New Years Eve 5 pm FESTIVE SOUNDS AT NEW YEARS EVE! Three trumpets, timpany and organ. Famous works by Bach, Albinoni, Charpentier. Ásgeir H. Steingrímsson, Eiríkur Örn Pálsson, Einar St. Jónsson trumpets, Eggert Pálsson timpani and Hörður Áskelsson organ. Admission 3000 ISK.

New Years Eve

Ticket sale at Hallgrimskirkja, tel 510 1000 open daily 9 am - 5 pm and at midi.is - hallgrimskirkja.is


CHRISTMAS SHOPPING There are endless possibilities when it comes to finding cool decorations, souvenirs, or that perfect Christmas present for your special someone. The centre of Reykjavík has a host of specialty boutiques where you will most certainly find something unique. While the main shopping streets are Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, make sure you don’t forget the number of small shops and boutiques that are hidden in the area around the old harbour. The Christmas Market in the centre of Reykjavík town is always a delight, as is the Christmas Village in the town of Hafnarfjörður, located 20 minutes from the centre of Reykjavík by car (bus no. 1). As we realize and understand that the selection is vast – we’ve attempted to help you out by highlighting some of our favorites in varied categories in order to help you with your Christmas shopping.

On December 23rd shops stay open until 23:00 and families flock to the centre of Reykjavík. Laugavegur is closed to traffic and bars and cafés are packed with people imbibing some Christmas cheer with their friends and loved ones. Most people have finished their Christmas preparations by then, though there are always a few still running from shop to shop, desperately trying to lay their hands on those perfect presents.

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ICELANDIC DESIGN Iceland has an abundance of wonderful designers, whose work reflect sustainability, myths, diverse natural phenomena, fond memories of nature, and much, much more. Here are a few places that feature Icelandic designers and will almost certainly have something to wrap with a bow and put under the tree. KRAUM Aðalstræti 10 A store representing over 120 designers with a vast selection of Icelandic design. GEYSIR Skólavörðustíg 16 Quality Icelandic design, clothing and other Icelandic products. LUNDINN (THE PUFFIN) Skólavörðustíg 10 & Hafnarstræti 5 Lots of clothing and other Icelandic products.

GAGA Vesturgata 4 Make sure Gaga is on your list of places to visit and explore unique Icelandic designers clothes, hats, caps, sweaters, and textiles... LISTASELIÐ Skólavörðustígur 17b Six energetic women design and create exclusive art, while running the gallery. KIRSUBERJATRÉÐ Vesturgata 4

MINJA Skólavörðustíg 12

A cooperative gallery featuring Icelandic design.

Here you’ll find a whole host of one-of-a-kind treasures.

GALLERÍ LIST Skipholti 50a Fine art gallery, offering a wide selection of contemporary art by diverse and acclaimed Icelandic artists. GALLERÍ FOLD Rauðarárstígur 12-14 Iceland’s leading auction house and foremost fine arts dealership selling the works of over 60 of Iceland’s best-known artists. GULLREGN Holtagerði 38 (in the back), Kópavogur Handmade Icelandic design in great variety. Everything from candles, covered in Icelandic lava rocks to crochet beanie hats.

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 57


WOOLEN WARMTH The hottest fashion item and probably the most popular Christmas gift in Iceland this year is the good Old Icelandic “Lopi” sweater. Knitting has been a huge trend in Iceland over the last few years, and the traditional lopi sweater has received a major facelift. These days designers and regular Icelanders alike are turning out perfect sweaters of every conceivable size, shape and colour. Here are a few shops that offer a good selection of this lovely and oh-so traditional Icelandic staple: GEYSIR Skólavörðustígur 16 HANDPRJÓNASAMBANDIÐ Skólavörðustígur 19 FARMER´S MARKET Eyjarslóð 9 THORVALDSEN´S BAZAAR Austurstræti 4 MINJA Skólavörðustígur 12 RAMMAGERÐIN Hafnarstræti 19 ÁLAFOSS, Laugavegur 8 MORE GREAT STORES FOR GIFT SHOPPING HRIM Laugavegur 25 KOKKA Laugavegur 47 KÚNÍGÚND Laugavegur 53b BORÐ FYRIR TVO Laugavegur 97 MÝRIN Kringlan Shopping Center

THE GREAT OUTDOORS If there was ever a place in the world well suited for buying outdoor clothing, Iceland is it. Throughout the centuries the Icelandic people have had to brave the elements, and their very survival has depended on being adequately dressed. For the longest time the Icelandic sheep was the main provider of that sort of protection, but as other materials came available, Icelandic designers have leapt at the chance to create different forms of protective clothing. Today, of course, protection is matched with style, with truly excellent results. 66°NORTH Bankastræti 5 & 9, Kringlan, Smáralind & selected stores. CINTAMANI Bankastræti 7, Kringlan, Smáralind & selected stores. ICEWEAR ÞingholtsstrætiBankastræti & selected stores. ZO-ON Bankastræti 10, Kringlan & selected stores.

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FASHION AND STYLE

BIRNA Skólavörðustíg 2

Fashion is an art form in Iceland and it is hard not to be drawn into the stores while window-shopping. Icelandic designers have been making waves domestically and abroad for several years, and many have now set up their own boutiques in the Laugavegur / Skólavörðustígur area. What better souvenir or present to take home than a unique fashion item that will turn heads wherever you go? And just to make sure you don’t land in the belly of the Yule Cat, here are some great options when it comes to finding something new to wear.

ELM Laugaveg 1

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GUST Ingólfsstræti 2 JUNIFORM Strandgata 32, Hafnarfjörður KRAUM Aðalstræti 10 KRON KRON Laugavegur 63 b NIKITA Laugavegur 56 NOSTRUM Skólavörðustíg 1 a RÓSA DESIGN Skólavörðustígur 10 SPAKSMANNSSPJARIR Bankastræti 11 FLUGA Hamraborg 1, Kópavogi RAKEL HAFBERG Laugavegur 37 SPIRAL DESIGN Laugavegur 97


FROSTY JEWELRY

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Iceland’s arts and crafts scene is proof positive that the colder the climate, the more creative the people. Our jewelry designers each have their own distinctive flair – some choosing to turn out bold, raw, chunky pieces, while others prefer ornaments as delicate and fragile as flowers in a black Icelandic desert. Whatever your personal preference, you are sure to find something to delight or impress.

A new organic awareness is currently sweeping the Icelandic nation, manifesting in a wave of new products made from herbs gathered in Iceland’s pristine nature. A vast selection of domestically produced cosmetics and beauty products now exists, available in gift-, health- and tourist shops. Whether as a special treat for yourself or as a gift, it’s hard to go wrong with a health or beauty product from pure Icelandic nature. Check out brands like BlueLagoon, Villimey, Sóley and SIF Cosmetics.

JEWELRY DESIGNERS TO LOOK FOR: GULLKISTAN Frakkastíg 10 ANNA MARÍA DESIGN Skólavörðustíg 3

BLUE LAGOON STORE Laugavegur 15 JURTAAPÓTEKIÐ Laugavegur 2

ORR Bankastræti 11

HEILSUHÚSIÐ Laugavegur 20b

ÓFEIGUR GULLSMIDJA Skólavörðustígur 5

LIFANDI MARKAÐUR Borgartún 24

METAL DESIGN GULL OG SILFURSMÍÐI Skólavörðustíg 2

YGGDRASILL Rauðarárstígur 10

AURUM Bankastræti 4 G Þ SKARTGRIPIR OG ÚR Bankastræti 6 GLING GLÓ SKARTGRIPIR Bankastræti 6 SIGGA OG TIMO Hafnarfjörður SIGN Hafnarfjörður

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SHOPPING SCHEDULE LAUGAVEGUR & THE DOWNTOWN AREA December 15th December 16th-22nd December 23rd December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

13:00-22:00 10:00-22:00 10:00-23:00 10:00-13:00 Closed 10:00-12:00 Closed

KOLAPORTIÐ FLEA MARKET Weekends 11:00-17:00

KRAUM DESIGN STORE December 15th-22nd December 23rd December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

09:00-22:00 10:00-23:00 09:00-12:00 Closed 09:00-15:00 Closed

SMÁRALIND SHOPPING CENTER December 15th December 16th-22nd December 23rd December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

13:00-22:00 11:00-22:00 11:00-23:00 11:00-13:00 Closed 11:00-13:00 Closed

KRINGLAN SHOPPING CENTER December 15th December 16th-22nd December 23rd December 24th December 25th-26th December 31st January 1st

13:00-22:00 10:00-22:00 10:00-23:00 10:00-13:00 Closed 10:00-13:00 Closed

TAX-FREE SHOPPING Don’t forget, when you buy merchandise that costs 4.000 ISK or more, you’ll get 15% off. Claim your refund at e.g: ITA service desk, Aðalstræti 2, Keflavik Intl. Airport.

64 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide


WINTER TOURS WITH WHAT’S ON IN REYKJAVIK THE AMAZING NORTHERN LIGHTS The northern lights are truly a spectacular phenomenon, and although there is no way to ensure that you’ll see them on your trip, you can at least enlist the help of the locals who know best. Conditions need to be dark, preferably away from the city lights, and as for the weather, look for the three “C” of northern-lights sighting:

66 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

Cold, Crisp and Cloudless! You’ll normally see them between October and March. There are a number of northern lights tours available on www.whatson.is to catch a glimpse of nature’s winter fireworks. SNOW MOBILES This is a great opportunity for the adventure-seeking traveller who wants to explore a glacier first hand. Snowmobiling has been one of Iceland’s most popular adventure activities for years and the reason is quite simple. Langjökull (the country’s second largest glacier) is only app. 2,5 hours drive from the capital city and tours run there every day, all year. Once there, you get a chance to experience the breathtaking Icelandic interior, views from the flanks of


Christmas time is perfect for adventuring, sight-seeing and experiencing Iceland in a completely different way from the summer time. Here is a selection of interesting tours you can find and book online now at www.whatson.is Langjökull from locations you can only access on specialized vehicles like snowmobiles. HORSEBACK RIDING Not only is the Icelandic horse of different colour, it’s a horse of an entirely different genetic make-up. Having been bred in almost perfect isolation for over 1000 years, this breed of horse is markedly different than the horses you’ll find anywhere else in the world. Small and extremely well-tempered, the Icelandic horse is known for its unique gait the “tölt”, an unusual gait where the horse seems to crouch down and slide over rough landscape like lava fields. You’ll find a variety of tours on www.whatson.is for all levels of expertise as well as a perfect opportunity to test drive the “tölt”.

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 67


SNORKELLING IN SILFRA ÞINGVELLIR For those adventure seeking visitors that want to explore parts of Iceland normally hidden from the naked eye, but are not experienced divers, no need to worry. The fissure Silfra at Þingvellir is not only a world-class diving location but ideal for snorkelling tours unlike anything you have seen before. The crystal clear water offers over 100 meters of visibility so those not experienced enough for diving can easily enjoy this hidden gem. This location offers the chance of floating along the fissure and seeing first-hand the amazing world underneath, an adventure most can handle and previous experience is not required. THE GOLDEN CIRCLE It really is a remarkable cluster of sights and you won’t want to miss

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it. You’ll see the Geysir geothermal area (the great grandpa of all hot springs), which puts Old Faithful to shame. There’s also a trip to Gullfoss waterfall, which is massive and powerful and stunning—best of all, you can walk right up to it. Your way back to the capital takes you past historical landmarks such as Thingvellir, the site of the first Parliament in Europe, and Almannagjá, a split in the Earth’s crust tectonic plates between America and Eurasia.


Come ride with us For 30 years テ行hestar has given people an opportunity to experience the Icelandic horse on long and short trips. Horses are our passion.

We are open during Christmas and New Year (closed on 25th December).

Come ride with us in the beautiful surroundings of our テ行hestar Riding Centre. You get free transport from all major hotels and guesthouses in the capital area.

Come and enjoy the Christmas Winter Wonderland with our horses and nature.

Northern Lights tours every Friday evening.

For further information check out our website www.ishestar.is, call +354 555 7000 or be our friend on Facebook.


STEFÁN BOGI GOLD- AND SILVERSMITH

METAL DESIGN SKÓLAVÖRÐUSTÍG 2 www.metaldesignreykjavik.is METALDESIGNREYKJAVIK ...


GLACIER CLIMBING For those looking for something physically strenuous, taking a walk on top of a glacier is sure to be a trip to remember. Iceland is unique in the sense that with just a couple of hours of drive you can be right on the verge of several immense glaciers. Do keep in mind though, that going with an experienced guide is really the only smart way to experience the glaciers. On whatson.is you’ll find several very interesting glacier walks of different difficulties and lengths.

A glacial walk is not for the feint hearted, but it’ll be an adventure to remember! WHALE WATCHING Observing the giants of the ocean is a profound experience you really shouldn’t miss. Even though it’s the middle of the winter, you can still book a whale watching tour straight from Reykjavik with a pickup service right to your hotel. Just make sure you’re dressed warmly and enjoy the ride! Varied tours available on www.whatson.is.

CHECK OUT ALL THE TOURS AND ACTIVITIES WE HAVE ON OFFER ON WWW.WHATSON.IS

© MOUNTAINEERS OF ICELAND

Your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland | 71


TOP 10

DECEMBER ACTIVITIES 01

Star gaze and soak in one of the 16 thermal pools in the Reykjavík capital area.

02

Revel in a Reykjavík winter: be dazzled by the multi-coloured Christmas lights, skate on Tjörnin lake or at the Skating Hall in Laugardalur.

03 04

Shop Icelandic design taxfree. Who can resist that?

Go crazy on New Year’s with tons of fireworks or ask a local for the nearest location of a typical Icelandic New Years bonfire.

05

Get spoiled in the almost surreal environment at the Blue Lagoon. They have a great selection of spa treatments.

72 | Reykjavik Christmas Guide

06

Stop at one of the many coffee houses for a warm drink or at any of Reykjavík’s great restaurants for the traditional Christmas Buffet.

07

Go horseback riding through picturesque valleys and rocky lava fields on the unique Icelandic horse.

08

Start a snowball fight and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the unforgettable northern lights.

09

Watch the whales while snacking on punch and traditional Icelandic biscuits.

10

Experience Viking times at one of the capital area’s many museums.


We’ll take you there! all the most exciting places in iceland

re-62

northern lights tour! sre-63

glacier & monster truck adventure!

EXPO • www.expo.is

sre-64

Warm baths & cool lights

ExpEriEncE a grEat EvEning with us!


Free WiFi

Hotspot on board our coaches.

holiday operation 2013 please scan the Qr code above for a quick overview of our holiday season operation.

great variety oF day tours!

Book now

at your reception

by calling 580 5400

on www.re.is

R O

EMS 582904

BSÍ Bus Terminal • 101 Reykjavík •

+ 354 580 5400 • main@re.is • www.re.is


ICELANDIC WOOL

WORN OUT FOR CENTURIES We o ff e r c l o t h i n g & o t h e r m e r c h a n d i s e t h a t r e m i n d s u s o f g o o d o l d Ic e l a n d

– Visit our stores: 101 Reykjav ík , A k urey ri a nd Hau kada l. w w w.geysir.com –


Reykjavik Christmas Guide 2013  

The Reykjavik Christmas Guide is your complete guide to Christmas in Iceland! Packed with interesting articles on the Icelandic holiday trad...

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