CNN selects Reykjavík as top Christmas destination

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In a recent article, CNN recommended the ’Top 10 places to spend 2010 Christmas’. The top destination may come as a surprise to some, but for those who’ve been in Reykjavík over the Christmas / New Year period, few experiences are as magical.

Iceland threads together Christmas influences from several continents and blends old fashioned Icelandic family traditions with the best of American, Western European and Scandinavian festivities. The main event for many though is the spectacular New Year’s Eve firework displays which know no equal outside of Chinese New Year in Shanghai. Many Icelandic households have lights out in front of their house right at the start of Decemember, and the tightly defined Christmas period itself does not end until January 6th - known as the 13th day in Icelandic - nearly 2 weeks of festivities for Christmas is preceded by a full calendar of events right from the start of the month.

10 great things you might expect to experience during your Christmas stay in Iceland:

  • Snow - Iceland gets Christmas Snow most every year, it does have the occasional ’Red’ Christmas too (no snow on Christmas Day)
  • Christmas lights on nearly every house - Icelanders love shiny bright things
  • Jólahlaðborð - Danish-style hot and cold 4-6 course buffet banquet at many of the leading hotels and restaurants trhoughout December
  • Smákökur (Christmas Cookies) - Dozens of varieties of decadent small moreish biscuits
  • Gingerbread everything - Iced Gingerbread Houses, People, Trees, Christmas Ornaments, Cookies of course etc...
  • Glögg - Iceland’s version of Glühwein / Mulled Wine, alternatively you can drink ’Heitt Súkkulaði með Rjóma’ - hot liquid chocolate with lashings of whipped cream
  • Swimming under Snowfall and Stars - Reykjavík has several geo-thermally sourced outdoor pools - for the ultimate in surreal experiences
  • Jólasveinar (Yule Lads) - 13 mischievous Icelandic Santas - each with his own personal quirk (Door-slammer, Pot-licker, Candle-swiper etc.)
  • 13 days of presents - Each of the Yule Lads leaves something for children (and other sensitive souls) every night leading up to Christmas, the main event in Iceland is Christmas Eve when family presents are opened; the final Santa also arrives late on Christmas Eve - leaving something to be opened on Christmas Day (Icelandic children are totally spoiled!)
  • Bonfire & Fireworks Night - No one spends more per capita on fireworks than Icelanders, and some of the bonfires lit first are several storeys high - immense really in all respects

In addition to this you have a full programme of concerts and other events - most of them food-related as well - taking you up to and through the Christmas period; it’s a little bit of America, England, Germany, Scandinavia, and a whole lot of Iceland of course.

The full CNN list was as follows:

  1. Reykjavík, Iceland
  2. Nuremberg, Germany
  3. Pogost, Belarus
  4. Salzburg, Austria
  5. Sydney, Australia
  6. New York City, United States
  7. Hong Kong, China
  8. San Juan, Puero Rico
  9. London, United Kingdom
  10. Boston, United States


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