A friend of mine put it this way: “Every year on New Year’s Eve, the Icelandic people assemble in an attempt to bomb God out of the sky, then get too drunk to remember if they succeeded.” So, uh, wow. Good work, Reykjavik. This New Year’s Eve was the most enjoyable of my life so far. I spent time with friends, the weather was surprisingly warm, and I saw more fireworks set off in one night than twenty-odd 4th of Julys combined.
My brother, a few friends, and I started the night off having dinner at one of their apartments downtown. Then we trekked to the seaside (across the street from Björk’s house…I’m not even kidding) to see a huge bonfire. Locals had been setting off fireworks since it got dark at 4:30pm, but by nine or ten they were getting pretty intense. We warmed up by the fire and watched rockets going up from dozens of different spots along the waterline and behind us in the city.
At 11:15, the fireworks were already incredible (four in the air at any time in any direction you looked), and we walked back to the frozen pond in the middle of the city, Tjörnin, to watch the sky explode at midnight. I could keep trying to explain how magnificent it was, but I’ll just post this video I took at exactly midnight instead (we decided to countdown after midnight since we didn’t think of it before).
In the US, I’m used to firework shows ending in a “grand finale” of sorts. The Icelanders will have none of that finality. The sheer volume of the midnight fireworks continued for at least and hour, and they kept up a steady stream of explosions until I went to sleep at 6:30am. After watching the fireworks for a while, we escaped from the cold into Harlem to dance (in our hiking boots because we didn’t even bother to try keeping up with the Icelanders penchant for dressing up to the nines).
On January First, New Years Day, we walked back to the bonfire spot to see if the high Northern Lights predictions for the evening would pan out. The fire was still burning, so we stayed warm as a huge semi-circle of green slowly appeared in the sky and gracefully swirled amongst a few clouds and stars above the bay and the city (and Björk’s house).
Gleðilegt nýtt ár! Happy New Year! With a kick-off like this, I think 2014 is going to be a good one for me (and I hope for you too!). Thanks for reading and making this a great first year of blogging Iceland.