It’s Christmas Time in Reykjavík!

Posted by on 03 Dec 2018

Christmas in Reykjavik: A Magical Holiday Experience in Iceland

As the winter season descends upon the picturesque city of Reykjavik, a magical transformation takes place. The streets come alive with twinkling lights, festive decorations adorn every corner, and the air is filled with the joyful spirit of Christmas. Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, offers a unique and enchanting holiday experience that is unlike any other. From traditional Christmas markets to captivating performances, and the presence of Icelandic Christmas folklore, the city truly comes alive during this time of year. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the wonders of Christmas in Reykjavik, exploring the must-see attractions, the fascinating traditions, and the exciting activities that await you in this winter wonderland.


Christmas Market Extravaganza

One of the highlights of Christmas in Reykjavik is the vibrant Christmas markets that pop up throughout the city. These markets offer a delightful array of local crafts, unique gifts, and delicious treats. Strolling through the stalls, you'll be greeted by the warm aroma of traditional Icelandic delicacies like kleina (a twisted doughnut) and laufabrauð (leaf bread). The markets also showcase the creative work of local artisans, providing an opportunity to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs and handmade decorations for your own Christmas tree. Don't forget to try the traditional Icelandic Christmas drink, jólaglögg, a spiced mulled wine that will warm your heart and soul.

Festive Performances at Harpa Concert Hall

For a truly enchanting experience, head to the iconic Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Throughout the Christmas season, Harpa hosts a variety of festive performances that are sure to captivate audiences of all ages. From classical concerts featuring Icelandic choirs to lively Christmas-themed theatrical productions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The stunning architecture of the concert hall, coupled with the magical atmosphere of the performances, creates an unforgettable experience that will leave you with cherished memories of Christmas in Reykjavik.


Meeting the Icelandic Christmas Folklore

Icelandic Christmas folklore is a rich and fascinating tradition that adds an extra layer of enchantment to the holiday season in Reykjavik. Let's explore some of the iconic characters that make up this unique mythology.

Grýla: The Christmas Ogre

Grýla, the Christmas Ogre, is a figure deeply rooted in Icelandic folklore. According to legend, she is a fearsome creature who emerges from her mountain dwelling during Christmas time to search for misbehaving children. With her thirteen mischievous sons, known as the Yule Lads, Grýla brings a sense of excitement and even a hint of fear to the Christmas season. While children may be wary of her presence, the tales of Grýla serve as a reminder to be on their best behavior during the holidays.

The Yule Lads: Mischievous Yet Endearing

The Yule Lads, also known as the Icelandic Santa Clauses, are a group of mischievous characters who visit children on the thirteen nights leading up to Christmas. Each Yule Lad has a distinct personality and brings a small gift or prank to children who have placed a shoe on their windowsill. From Spoon Licker to Door Slammer, these playful yet endearing characters add a touch of whimsy and excitement to the holiday season in Reykjavik.

The Yule Cat: A Feline with a Festive Agenda

The Yule Cat, known as Jólakötturinn, is a mythical creature that has its origins in Icelandic folklore. Legend has it that this giant cat roams the Icelandic countryside during Christmas time, preying on those who have not received new clothes before the holiday season. The Yule Cat serves as a reminder of the importance of generosity and the tradition of gifting new clothes to loved ones during Christmas in Iceland.


The Oslo Christmas Tree: A Symbol of Holiday Spirit

The Oslo Christmas Tree holds a special place in the heart of Reykjavik's holiday festivities. Originally imported as a gift from Oslo, Norway, this majestic tree has become a beloved symbol of Christmas in the city. Located in Austurvöllur, the tree is officially lit on the first Sunday of Advent, marking the beginning of the holiday season. The beautifully illuminated Oslo Christmas Tree serves as a gathering point for locals and visitors alike, spreading joy and festive cheer throughout Reykjavik.

Hallgrímskirkja: Where Nature Meets Festivity

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik's iconic church, is a must-visit destination during the Christmas season. What makes this church particularly enchanting is its live Christmas tree. Instead of a traditional cut tree, Hallgrímskirkja proudly displays a living tree, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. As you enter the church, you will be greeted by the soothing sounds of choral performances, creating a truly magical atmosphere. The church also hosts art exhibits, further enhancing the festive spirit.

Jólakötturinn: The Fearsome Yule Cat

During the Christmas season, Reykjavik's Lækjartorg Square is home to a captivating sculpture of Jólakötturinn, the fearsome Yule Cat. This larger-than-life sculpture, covered in sparkling lights, serves as both an artistic installation and a reminder of the Icelandic Christmas folklore. The Yule Cat symbolizes the importance of generosity and the tradition of giving new clothes during the holiday season. Standing in the presence of this majestic sculpture, you can't help but feel the magic and wonder of Christmas in Reykjavik.


Gray Line's Reykjavik City Sightseeing Tour

To truly immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of Reykjavik during Christmas, embark on Gray Line's Reykjavik City Sightseeing Tour. This tour offers a comprehensive exploration of the city's most iconic landmarks, all beautifully adorned for the holiday season. From the twinkling lights of the Oslo Christmas Tree to the festive decorations lining the streets, you'll experience the enchantment of Reykjavik in all its glory. The knowledgeable guides will share fascinating stories and insights about the city's Christmas traditions, ensuring a memorable and informative journey.


Reykjavik's Captivating Winter Wonderland

Beyond the Christmas markets and festive traditions, Reykjavik offers a captivating winter wonderland waiting to be explored. Take a leisurely stroll along the city's charming streets, adorned with snow-covered rooftops and sparkling decorations. Visit the iconic landmarks such as the Sun Voyager sculpture and the Perlan observation deck, which offer breathtaking views of Reykjavik's winter landscape. For adventure enthusiasts, there are also opportunities for thrilling activities like snowmobiling on nearby glaciers or witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across the night sky.

Plan Your Christmas Adventure in Reykjavik

To make the most of your Christmas experience in Reykjavik, it's essential to plan ahead. Here are some useful tips to ensure a seamless and memorable holiday adventure:

  • Research and book your accommodations well in advance, as the city tends to be busy during the Christmas season.
  • Check the schedule of festive performances and events at Harpa Concert Hall to secure your tickets in advance.
  • Explore the local Christmas markets and indulge in traditional Icelandic treats and crafts.
  • Dress warmly and be prepared for winter weather conditions, as Reykjavik can be quite cold during this time of year.
  • Consider joining a guided tour, such as Gray Line's Reykjavik City Sightseeing Tour, to maximize your experience and learn more about the city's history and traditions.

Book Your Reykjavik Day Tour today!

Christmas in Reykjavik is a truly magical experience that combines festive traditions, captivating performances, and the unique charm of Icelandic folklore. From exploring the bustling Christmas markets to witnessing the breathtaking beauty of the Oslo Christmas Tree, Reykjavik offers a holiday adventure like no other. Immerse yourself in the enchanting winter wonderland of Reykjavik and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your warmest clothes, embrace the holiday spirit, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of Christmas in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Additional Information: As the leading provider of tours and sightseeing experiences in Iceland, Gray Line Iceland is dedicated to creating memorable adventures for travelers. With a wide range of tours, including the Reykjavik City Sightseeing Tour, Gray Line offers a unique perspective on the beauty and culture of Iceland. Whether you're visiting during the Christmas season or any other time of year, Gray Line's knowledgeable guides and comfortable transportation ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience. Trust Gray Line Iceland to be your guide and companion as you explore the wonders of this extraordinary country.

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