Miss Claire Tolman
Can not recommend this tour highly enough. We had met some people on other yours and they were on our coach and then we met a few others, was a great way to spend new years - the tour guides knwo where to go ... the fireworks and the bonfires are awesome - and at midnight well i have never seen so many fireworks - one of the best NYE's I've had.
Iceland – Land of Fire and Ice. So the saying goes. And our Isango excursion proved the ideal vehicle to explore the New Year fire and the snow and ice that covered the country at this time of year.
Reykjavik is an attractive, and cosmopolitan city. But cover it in a seasonal one-hundred centimetres of snow and the city takes on an even more magical appearance. The lake, Tjörnin, was well frozen, probably to a depth of many centimetres. Certainly enough for the locals to brave Husky sledging, ice-hockey and generally using the ice as a short-cut to the main shopping centre. And the current financial crisis, that has hit Iceland even harder than here at home, seems to have done little to dampen the Icelanders desire to seek-out the latest fashion in clothing or accessories. The shop windows on Laugavegur, the main commercial street in Reykjavik, were a blaze of lights, and full of expensive designer-ware for the fashion conscious Reykjavisti.
But New Year's Eve is very sanctimonious to the Icelander, and taken very seriously. A mass is held in Halgrimskirkja, the cathedral church of Reykjavik, sited on the highest part of the city. This will be broadcast and listened to on the radio by those at home, and then followed by a family dinner. Another 'tradition' that has formed over the years' is the communal watching of Áramótaskaupið on television. Áramótaskaupið – in English 'The New Years Comedy' – is a satirical comedy programme, produced every year at this time. It pokes fun mercilessly at the country's politicians, business people and other activists in public life. But it's after this has ended that the real fun begins.
In four corners of the city large bonfires, or Brenna, are constructed. Now at this point you wonder where this country, noted for it's lack of trees, finds enough timber to make several large bonfires. Mostly the answer seems to be 'pallets' and other disposable crates and packaging. And then the fireworks begin. Or I should say dramatically increase in intensity, as fireworks have been going-off across the city for over an hour already. But this is not an organised display like the one on Sydney Harbour bridge for example. These fireworks, bought from the Icelandic emergency services who benefit from the sale, have been collected by the citizens out of their own pocket. Clearly some people have spent many thousands of Krona on their contribution to this event.
At this point we moved up to the Perlan which is an excellent viewpoint over Reykjavik at any time. From here, along with several hundred visitors and Icelanders, we got a ring-side view of the spectacular display that took place for a full three-hundred-and-sixty degrees across the city. My best description of the event is like being in a war zone without anyone actually shooting at you! And then, after a complimentary glass, or two, of champagne we made our way in the excursion bus, slowly with the throng, back to our hotel. A magical end to a memorable visit to the most northern capital city.
mrs p hill
Unbelievable experience, have never seen fireworks like it, cameras couldnt do it justice. Were taken to one of the many bonfires that are lit around 8.30pm where a very inpromptu firework display takes place, these are fireworks brought along by the local people and just set off any where! No standing back two miles just to be safe like in England!!! We were then taken to try and see the Northern Lights whilst the Icelanders enjoy a comedy programme on TV and before the main celebrations begin. We returned to Reykjavik about 11.30pm where, from a high vantage point overlooking the city, the fireworks began and WOW what a sight, fabulous experience.
WILLIAM D W JAMES
Iceland's unsung New Year Experience was unbelievable with fireworks across the city for hours BUT this would have happened without the tour. We were collected, taken to a bonfire, to a hotel and to a hillside with a knowledgeable guide BUT from 7.00 until 1.00 am without the opportunity to eat and drink and it was soooo cold.We would have appreciated being warned that outdoor plus thermals were essential as we gained the impression that we would be in a hotel.
Could there have been a warning to dine before going? Bonfire/firework parties to us are with jacket potatoes/ hot dogs/ hot drinks etc and a cup of coffee and gingerbread biscuits at 11.00 pm was not enough. As the tour stopped at 10.oo and restarted at 11.00 for the tv programme could we have watched with subtitles?