Each December, Reykjavík is transformed into a magical Christmas city. There are fun Christmas events involving everything from culture to food, horseback riding to sailing, and singing to shopping all over the city, but some places are even more festive than others. Check out all the festive areas in the city and partake in our holiday joy.
Ice-skating at Ingólfstorg Square in December
Where: Ingólfstorg – Central Reykjavík
When: Open every day in December from 12:00-22:00
Admission: Free if you bring your own ice skates
Nova has yet again joined forces with Samsung and the city of Reykjavík to open an ice-skating rink on Ingólfstorg square. This year, 100,000 light bulbs light up the beautiful square. In addition to the Ingólfstorg ice-skating rink, a Christmas market is also located at Ingólfstorg Square surrounding the ice rink, where both refreshments and merchandise are for sale. Helmets and skates can be rented on-site for 1,190 ISK.
Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village
Where: Hafnarfjörður, 20 min. from downtown Reykjavík with bus no. 1
When: Weekends until Christmas from 12:00 to 17:00. Open until 22:00 on December 23
Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village has been evolving for years and the whole town centre of Hafnarfjörður becomes one big Christmas Village during Advent. Hafnarfjörður residents and local companies will participate in making this year’s Christmas Village the biggest one yet. As usual, Thorsplan plaza is transformed into a Christmas market, there will be plenty of concerts and events, and people will be able to take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
Christmas Programme at Árbær Open Air Museum
Where: Árbær Open Air Museum, Kistuhyl, 110 Reykjavík
When: Sunday December 9 and 16 from 13:00 to 17:00
Admission: 1,650 ISK, but under 18 and over 70 free
Further information: reykjavikcitymuseum.is
Immerse yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of a traditional Icelandic Christmas at Árbær Open Air Museum. Visitors, both young and old, will enjoy experiencing the Christmas preparations and the celebration of days gone by with activities including the preparation of traditional Icelandic Christmas food, and crafts, such as candle making and laufabrauð cutting. Watch out for those playful Yule Lads (traditional Icelandic Santa Clauses) who may peep through the windows or play tricks on guests. Traditional Christmas sweets will be on offer in the general store, hot chocolate at the Museum Café and much more. Free entry for those with a Reykjavík City Card.
Christmas with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Where: Harpa, Eldborg hall
When: December 15-16 at 14:00 and 16:00
Admission: 2,700-3,200 ISK
Further information: en.sinfonia.is
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concerts have been enormously popular among listeners of all ages. This family gala takes a peek into the baðstofa, the common room in the old Icelandic farmhouse, where the Christmas elves and the Christmas Cat have taken up residence. At the forefront is the exquisite Christmas music of Jórunn Viðar, who would have turned 100 this year. Students from the Iceland Ballet Academy interpret Ingibjörg Þorbergs’ Christmas Cat and Gunnar Þórðarson’s Jólaóður (Ode to Christmas), and the Reykjavík Girls’ Choir and the Litlu Sprotarnir Sign Language Choir perform Christmas classics, together with Valgerður Guðnadóttir and Kolbrún Völkudóttir. Young wind players will appear with the orchestra, and the Reykjanes Music School Bell Choir rings in the Christmas season, playing holiday favourites before and after the concert. Master of Ceremonies is Hildur the Clown, and the conductor is Bernharður Wilkinson.
Advent at Harpa
Where: Harpa Concert Hall
When: December 2-23
Every weekend during Advent, Harpa offers live music and other events in Harpa’s open spaces like the corridors and the restaurant area. All events are free of charge, unless mentioned otherwise. Bring the whole family and enjoy some quality time at Harpa. The Icelandic Opera, different music schools, The Reykjavík Big Band, a brass band, a jazz band, and a handbell choir will all perform. Also, the Coca Cola train and Yule Lads will stop at Harpa on December 8. Check out the full programme on Harpa’s website.
Christmas Market at Elliðavatn
The annual Crafts & Design Christmas market and the Christmas tree sale in Heiðmörk woods, located on the outskirts of Reykjavík, will be open every weekend until Christmas, from 12:00 to 17:00. The Christmas trees are beautiful and Icelandic-grown but even if you’re not there to get a tree, there’s plenty of activities. You can take a stroll around the arts and crafts market and the kids can watch the campfire and meet the Icelandic Yule Lads. If it gets cold, you can always head to the café for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Christmas at the Nordic House
Where: Nordic House, just outside of the city centre
When: Throughout December
Admission: Mostly free entry, but the cooking course is 1,500 ISK
There’s a lot going on at the Nordic House this December. For instance, the Nordic House features an eco-friendly pop-up shop until December 20, where you can buy children books, woollen socks, small instruments, puzzles, dolls, and more. It’s open 09:00-17:00 on weekdays and 10:00-17:00 during weekends. From December 9, you can visit an exhibition about Grýla, the mother of the Icelandic Yule Lads.