The Fireworks Extravaganza

The Fireworks Extravaganza

Published December 13, 2011

To celebrate the New Year, Icelanders buy hundreds of tonnes of fireworks and shoot them off in a completely haphazard fashion. As you can imagine, this makes for one hell of a dazzling fireworks show.
In fact, Kiefer Sutherland—who once took down a Christmas tree in a Reykjavík hotel lobby—claims that he has never witnessed a more extraordinary fireworks display than when he was in Iceland on New Years.
But who knows how many fireworks displays he’s witnessed or remembers witnessing, and the numbers speak for themselves. Icelanders reportedly set off 500 tonnes of fireworks last year, which is equivalent to almost two kilos of TNT per person.
While the fireworks show has become somewhat renowned, it is perhaps a lesser-known fact outside of Iceland that the country’s volunteer rescue team ICE-SAR is behind the bulk of these fireworks sales.
For thirty some odd years, ICE-SAR has been importing fireworks primarily from China, and selling them during the allotted four day window, between December 28 and December 31, to fund their operations.
While the teams are made up of volunteers, the rescues can be expensive and the fireworks sales have become critical to their operations. “For many rescue teams, fireworks sales make up ninety percent of the budget,” ICE-SAR representative Jón Ingi says. “So it’s very important.”
The organisation has 100 rescue teams and 40 accident prevention teams around the island, and it gets roughly 14.000 callouts per year, which ICE-SAR representative Jón Ingi Sigvaldason says translates to an annual 640.000 man-hours of work.
“We get all kinds of calls,” he says, “from rescuing people in snow storms to looking for people who are reported missing—such as patients with Alzheimer’s—which happens more often than people know.”
Every year, the rescue team is also sent to look for tourists who venture off into Iceland’s often-unforgiving nature without being properly equipped. Last month, there was the case of a Swedish photographer who lost his way on a glacier. In total, five hundred people from the rescue team participated in his search, ultimately finding him in a crevasse, regrettably dead.
While purchasing fireworks from ICE-SAR is definitely supporting a good cause, you can also imagine that it results in a ton of pollution and a number of accidents too. If you mix hundreds of thousands of inebriated Icelanders with hundreds of tonnes of fireworks, it’s bound to happen.
To this end, Jón Ingi says the organisation does its best to prevent accidents. “We spend a lot of money trying to prevent accidents,” he says, “giving out 150.000 safety glasses every year.”
In any case, the show will go on and it will be spectacular, so you might as well enjoy it and support ICE-SAR while you’re at it. Just remember to be careful and don’t forget to wear your safety glasses because as great as it is, it will never be worth losing an eye!



Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Searching For The Best Public Bathroom

by

Something that always seems to be missing in reviews of restaurants, bars, cafés and whatnot, is the bathroom. Perhaps it is a taboo subject? But when you think about it, the flowery potpourri smell in the bathroom might make up for a mediocre cup of coffee or a semi-flat beer and stumbling upon a clogged toilet could make you forget about all the great food and service you just got. What good is a good soup if your dining experience is shadowed by a dirty bathroom? When writing these reviews, I went to some of Reykjavík’s most popular cafés to

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Best Way To Hit 12 Bars In 12 Hours!

by

We at the Grapevine do not encourage people to drink to excess, but if you ever wanted to have 12 drinks at 12 bars in 12 hours, we’ve mapped out the best way to do that! Most bars in Reykjavík have a happy hour, and if you align them in the correct order on a Friday, you can get a dozen in a row. If you give yourself 15–20 minutes to get from place to place, we reckon you should be able to make it. You’ll need to have a friend with you though, as a few places on the

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Við Erum Best!

by

At last count, there were 326,340 people living in Iceland. That’s .0045% of the world’s population and while it isn’t really a competition, this has created a bit of an inferiority complex among some Icelanders who, as Grapevine writer Oddur Sturluson put it, “find it nothing short of scandalous that their small, unarmed country doesn’t have as much political pull as some of their larger, more powerful neighbours.” To compensate, Oddur argued, Icelanders “invented something brilliant in its simplicity and devastating in its effectiveness…The Per Capita Record.” This, he explained, is “quite simply when Iceland does something noticeable, compared to

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Ghosts Of Best-Ofs Past

by

Compiling the BEST OF REYKJAVÍK has always been, at best, a half-absurd proposition. As much as we love our city, it is a tiny one, a miniscule one. It is a city that hosts exactly two competitors for the category of ‘best Indian food’, in a country where the Prime Minister ceremoniously and reverently chomped down the first Big Mac served at the island’s first McDonald’s franchise back in ’93 (miss u, cheap cardboard hamburgers and delicious fries). Yet, compiling the BEST OF REYKJAVÍK, half-absurd as the act may be, is always a deeply satisfying endeavour. The best part is:

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Best Of The News

by

In reviewing the past year in news, you will see certain patterns emerge: certain public figures, events and topics that seem to ignite social media and office break room conversations for days, weeks or even months. Arguments are had, alliances are formed, and people are unfriended over these very stories. These are news trends that never really go away; they just change form and come back to pay repeated visits, for better or for worse. Let Grapevine take you back over the past year to savour the delectable banquet that is the very best the news has had to offer.

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Completely Unthinkable

by

As you read this, the State Prosecutor is reviewing the latest findings of a months-long police investigation of the Ministry of the Interior, over a memo on Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos that found itself in the hands of select members of the media last November. This memo impugned Tony’s reputation, with accusations— which later proved false and misleading—at a time when he was facing impending deportation, and the Ministry was facing a protest. So far, those investigations have seemingly confirmed what has long been suspected: the memo originated in the Ministry, that Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir

Show Me More!