Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Northern Europe

See what’s going on this weekend for the holiday in Reykjavik, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, and Copenhagen!

Reykjavik, Iceland


Photo Credit: Great Canadian Travel
Photo Credit: Great Canadian Travel


Bonfires, Fireworks, Elves, and  Áramótaskaup! In Reykjavik, New Year’s Eve is considered a family holiday, so people eat a big dinner at home, and restaurants traditionally have been closed. After dinner, everyone goes out and gathers around large bonfires, where the tradition is to sing songs about the elves and hidden folk. And then after the bonfires, everyone goes home where they watch the comedy show Áramótaskaup (a.k.a. New Year’s Eve Ridicule), which provides a humorous take on the events of the year. After that, everyone gathers together again to watch fireworks ring in the New Year, as well as setting them off everywhere and anywhere! In the days leading up to the holiday, enjoy the countdown on the outside of the Harpa concert hall.
You can even stream the fireworks display live this year!

Check out other Icelandic winter holiday traditions and watch fireworks from years past!


Dublin, Ireland

dublin nye

The New Year Festival lasts for 3 days, and features a grand Luminosity light show on the Custom House. There’s also concerts, art displays, and various pop-up events.  Towards midnight, head over to St. Stephen’s Green to watch the fireworks display,

Learn about other Irish New Year Traditions.


Edinburgh, Scotland

edinburgh nye

Hogmanay! The Scottish tradition (brought to them by the Vikings) comes alive in Edinburgh, where the street party lasts for 3 days! It begins on the 30th, where thousands of people carrying torches from Parliament Square to Calton Hill and watch the fireworks. At midnight on the 31st, everyone joins together to sing the world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Throughout the event there is live music, Old Town Ceilidh which involves traditional music, food and drink. And on New Year’s Day, head down to the River Forth where you can watch people take a cold dip in the water, a Loony Dook!  Because Christmas wasn’t celebrated in Scotland for a few hundred years, New Years is their time to shine!


London, England


Photo Credit: Timeout
Photo Credit: Timeout

London’s celebrations are more typical. Go out on the town with your friends, and if you’re lucky and have tickets, you can watch the fireworks display over the River Thames. But head out on New Year’s Day where you can watch an epic parade right through the heart of the city.

Check out other New Year’s Traditions across the British Isles as well as traditional foods and recipes.


Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen nye

In Denmark, New Year’s Eve starts with everyone gathered around the TV to listen to the Queen’s New Year’s Message broadcast live from Fredensborg Castle at 6pm. Afterwards, they’ll eat a big traditional dinner, which usually includes a serving of codfish and mustard sauce, followed by a main dish of pork and kale. As the night wears on, people will start setting off their own fireworks displays. At midnight, people will have the traditional dessert, Kransekage, (a cake tower made of layers of marzipan rings), drink champagne, and in Copenhagen, they’ll gather downtown to listen to the City Hall clock strike 12 while they all sing along to the national anthem and watch the large fireworks display.