From Iceland — How to Christmas Like An Icelander

How to Christmas Like An Icelander

Published December 6, 2019

Hannah Jane Cohen Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

If there’s anything Iceland loves, it’s taking Christmas to the next level. And hell no—we’re not talking about the Yule Lads or some Christmas cat, we’re talking about cheesy star-studded Christmas concerts, takeover ice skating rinks, and, of course, those iconic Icelandic Christmas buffets, which you can learn more about on page 34. Here’s how you can Christmas like an Icelander.

Ice Skating at Ingolfstorg
Until Dec. 24th – Ingólfstorg – 12:00-22:00 – Free! (990 ISK to rent skates)
The next Winter Olympics might not be until 2022 but that doesn’t mean you can’t start practising now. Get on the path to win Iceland’s first figure skating medal with a spin around Reykjavík’s beloved annual Ingólfstorg skating rink. Bring your kids, lover, or adrenaline-junkie Grandma and take over the city’s central square on some razor-sharp shoes. Grab a Hlölli afterwards for a true Reykjavík afternoon. HJC

ice skating

photo by Art Bicnick

Jülevenner Emmsjé Gauta 2019
Dec. 22nd & 23rd – 16:00, 20:00, 23:00 – Háskólabíó – 4,990-6,990 ISK
There are so many cheesy Icelandic Christmas concerts—where local celebrities gather to perform songs, skits, and more—that we couldn’t possibly name them all. Our personal favourite is curated by Iceland’s hip-hop prince Emmsjé Gauti. It’s a fresh take on the trope featuring young pop stars like Bríet and Aron Can along with old favourites like the flamboyant Páll Óskar. There’s a special family show on the 23rd at 16:00, which we imagine will be the talking point at all the Gen Xer parties. VG

“If you’re into Icelandic dad-humour—think ballads from the perspective of Grýla’s long-suffering husband Leppalúði—you’ll find it here.”

Heiðmörk Christmas Market
Weekends until December 22nd – 12:00-17:00 – Heiðmörk – Free!
Nearly every Icelandic venue/store has its own version of a holiday market, but the one in the old hunting lodge at Elliðavatn is a not-to-miss experience. On a frozen lake in a gorgeous forest, sit the kids into a beautiful grove for some Christmas stories—most in Icelandic. Afterwards, cut down your own Christmas tree, enjoy some hot chocolate, and just be merry. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a ton of handmade stuff. What more is Christmas than capitalism wrapped in a bow? VG/HJC

Dec. 6th, 7th, 8th, 13, 14, 15th, 19th, 20th, 21st – 17:00, 21:00 – Háskólabíó – 9,559 ISK
Ok, this concert is literally as Icelandic as you can get. Warning: it will be in Icelandic, but we think the show is crazy enough that even foreigners will have fun. The light-hearted comedy band Baggalútur essentially invented the Icelandic Christmas concert a decade ago and are still the fiercest act around. If you’re into Icelandic dad-humour—think ballads from the perspective of Grýla’s long-suffering husband Leppalúði—you’ll find it here. HJC

Christmas Screening!: Love Actually
Dec. 23rd – 20:00 – Bíó Paradís – 1,000-1,600 ISK

The best way to find out if your friend or partner isn’t a psychopath is the good old did-you-feel-anything test when Liam Neeson’s son, Sam, runs through the airport to confess his love to his American crush. If the partner feels nothing, run and hide. Anyway, Bíó Paradís hosts a ton of special Christmas screenings each year, but let’s be real: ‘Love Actually’ is not only the best love story of all time, but it’s also the best Christmas movie ever. Do you feel it in your fingers? Do you feel it in your toes? Because Christmas is all around us, so c’mon and let it snow. VG

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