Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's is Upon Us...So I Say go to Iceland!

Here's the thing.  New Year's is tricky.  Most of us tend to stay in these days with the increased pressure to not drink and drive.  If you have a family, you might go to a first night celebration, but most of us are sitting in our living rooms, watching the ball fall in New York City on the television, wondering who's going to take over for Dick Clark and all.  It's what we do.  We get some sparkling wine, because we can't afford, nor do we really like champagne.  As we get older, we tend to work really hard just to stay up until midnight to ring in the new year at all.  Every year we see celebrations around the world with thousands of partying citizens having a great time.  But, the reality is that these crowds make up very little of the populations of the countries around the world.  Most of us are watching them on TV.

New York City is the prime destination in the United States to go if you want to go and celebrate in a huge crowd.  There are several other worthy destinations around the country in each and every state.  But, most of us stay at home.  Most of us are sitting there telling ourselves that it's just not worth the trouble.  Most of us are looking for that unique experience to ring in the new year in a crowd.  What should you do?
Well, first of all, for God sakes, get out once in a while.  Then, if you want something to remember, look for it.  All over the world, there are celebrations each and every year to ring in the new year.  Pick one.  Make this New Year's count.
Go to New Zealand and be first.  Go to Australia and be warm.  Go to Hawaii and be last and get to sleep on the beach.  Do something that rings it in right for you.
Mine is Reykjavik.  Yes, Iceland.  I know, it's really cold and really dark, and how on Earth would anyone know the difference between midnight and noon?  You'd be surprised.

Reykjavik is a dainty little city.  It's beautiful in the winter time with it's pretty constant blanket of snow.  The people here are friendly and most of them speak English.  It's a small town kind of place to visit where everyone is nice and you make friends quickly.  You can take a tour up here where you stay with a family and see how they live.  They show you around and teach you how things work.  And that's why you want to come to Iceland at New Year's.

First, Iceland comes with it's own fireworks.  These are the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights.  They are viewable on many nights in Iceland.  Winter time is best, and New Year's is fabulous.  This natural phenomenon has been credited with good luck, fertility, financial gain, and many other amazing qualities.  It's a great way to start the new year.

For most Icelanders, at least in Reykjavik, New Year's Eve starts with mass at the National Cathedral.  Icelanders are deeply spiritual and this is where a lot of families meet up to start their night's festivities.
From mass, it just gets better.  Families gather and get ready for midnight.  There are no fireworks or fire burning laws in Iceland to speak of.

Icelanders gather around giant bonfires to celebrate the passing from old year to new.  You, as a traveler will find yourself the guest of a local in a New York minute.  The Icelanders love to celebrate and they love to meet people.  You'll be taken in, even if you don't start out as part of a group.

And then there's the fireworks.  Like I said, there are no fireworks laws in Iceland.  Therefore, when midnight strikes in Reykjavik, everyone sets off their own, making one of the most spectacular New Year's displays in the world.  It's estimated that each and every citizen fires off about 3 kilograms of fireworks.  There are almost 200,000 people in the city.  That's a lot of fireworks.
You won't want to miss that.  The best part is, that even though it's very cold in Reykjavik on New Year's Eve, you'll be warm.  The bonfires are amazingly warm and create a wonderful friendly environment.  It's a night you'll never forget.

There are other perks too, if you come from America's East Coast like I do.  Iceland is four hours ahead of where I live.  Midnight feels like 8 p.m. to me.
But, that's just the beginning.  Icelanders love to stay out late anyway. Bars and clubs open at midnight and stay open all night.  So, you can party any way you like.  I advise staying by the fire and making friends.  It's cozy, and that's something that I've only found you can do in Iceland.
Happy New Year!


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