Iceland is a country of extremes, it ranges from the fire of the volcanos to the ice of the glaciers, and in I am Reykjavik we are keeping the same pattern: from the warm summer topic in our last article of these series, to the cold Winter in Iceland- The season series post. Welcome to the freezing side of Iceland!
People tend to forget that the winter season has its own magic it is not just cold! there are still plenty of things to do in the outdoors. So, you do not have to be inside your home all day long watching how the time goes by. Iceland in winter looks pretty much like a postcard, incredible wintery scenery, snowy towns and magical phenomena awaiting to be discover. Do you want to do so? Keep on reading our Winter in Iceland – The season series post.
Weather and temperatures
As weird as it may seem, Iceland is not as cold as it should be for its latitude. Just like we told you in our past posts, the country is affected by the warm Gulf stream and and as a result, there is an average temperature of 0ºC in the southern area of the country and approximately -10ºC in the highlands. Areas of the east coast of the USA or Canada are way much colder! I bet this mild temperature caught you totally out of the blue! Now you know a new fact of our country just by reading our Winter in Iceland – The season series!
Back to the extremes, if during the summer we have basically 24h of daylight, during the winter it is just the opposite. By mid-December (the month with less daylight time) the sun rises about 11:30 and sets approximately at 15:41.
Yes, that is just about four hours of sun light! But do not jump to conclusions just yet! It is true that this circumstance gives you way less time to enjoy the outdoors, checking landscapes and other kind of activities but it will create the right atmosphere for one of the most amazing show we wanted you to discover in this Winter in Iceland – The season series: The Northern Lights.
The Aurora Borealis, most commonly known as Northern Lights can be the most important reason why you should come to Iceland during this period. In order to be able to see them, you need a pitch-black night and in winter the chances are definitely higher. You can see the Northern Lights from September to mid-April. If you would like to learn more about them, be sure to check our recommendations.
Having less daylight should not put you off since during the winter time Iceland is full of great traditions you can still enjoy. This season is way less touristic, places are not as packed up and the best thing is prices for accommodation and tours are lower!
During the winter time, Christmas spirit is everywhere. We call it “Yule” (jól) and in Iceland this Christian tradition is mixed with ancient pagan celebrations creating a unique tradition you will love to see:
Winter in Iceland – The season series
- Þorláksmessa – St. Thorlakur’s Day: On December 23rd the tradition is to eat skate and decorate the Christmas tree. As a result of this, the downtown is full of people doing their last-minute shopping!
- Nýársdagur- New Year’s Day: bonfires burn all over Iceland. This tradition has been around for centuries, we “burn” the year and embrace the new one.
- Jólasveinarnir’ or Yuletide Lads: it is a big Christmas costume. These magic Yule Lads come down from the mountains to our towns from the 13th of December until Christmas’ eve, one guy at a time. They leave little presents for the kids in shows placed on the window.
As we stated at the beginning of this Winter in Iceland – The season series, there are still plenty of activities during the winter so here are some of the most famous festivals:
- The Winter Lights Festival: 1-4 February. Long dark winter days? It does not matter” we are lighting up the city! Exhibitions, music and lights for everyone to see.
- Sónar Reykavik: One of the most international and well-known festivals that are held in the capital city. Usually takes place in February, the best bands get together at Harpa Music Hall.
- Iceland Winter Games: are you a sport lover? Well, March is your month. From snowboard championships to ski, volcano rides showdown…
If winter is coming, fear not! Come to Iceland and discover what nature and tradition has to offer!