Winter Solstice in Iceland

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Iceland is indeed one of the most beautiful countries in the world in terms of flora and fauna. Every year Iceland welcomes tourists, researchers, filmmakers, and sports enthusiasts from all over the world to witness the glory and beauty of mother nature. Just like nature, the cultural heritage of Iceland also attracts those who seek adventure and exploration in their lives. One such cultural festival that attracts tourists from all over the world to the land of Ice is known as the Winter Solstice.

It is celebrated on the darkest night of the winter when the sun does not rice at all. During this day, the 21st of December, the skies light up for not more than 4 hours in most of Iceland, and not more than 2 hours in the north part of the country.

In this article, we are going to talk about the significance and history of this beautiful and auspicious festival and at the same time, we will tell you how to participate in it.

man standing in front of a glacier during winter in Iceland

What is Winter Solstice?

Winter Solstice, also known as midwinter, is a festival celebrated by Icelanders during the darkest part of the winter. Winter Solstice is the time when the poles of the earth have their maximum tilt away from the sun. During this time, polar regions witness continuous darkness or twilight. This time of the year is celebrated by Icelanders with great enthusiasm and tourists from all over the world come to participate and witness the magic of this festival. Being one of the most important festivals in Iceland, it is also called the Christmas of Iceland. This time of the year is not just celebrated in Iceland, but all over the world in some way or another. From Easy Asian culture to the German culture, and from Roman to Indian, this time of the year has an important significance and it is celebrated by different religions of the world. In Iceland. If you are someone who is planning to explore different cultures of the world and planning to visit Iceland, then Winter Solstice is capable of presenting you with the core cultural colors of the country.

History of Winter Solstice

Iceland is a country with a very rich tribal history. Everybody has heard a thing or two about Vikings, and their legends have also been shown in different movies and TV shows. The history of the Winter Solstice festival dates back to the times of Vikings as they were one of the first who lived in this beautiful land. In Viking times, a festival was celebrated by the people of the Icelandic region that was called ‘Jól’, which is the Icelandic word for ‘Christmas’. But the Christmas celebration of Iceland is nothing like the modern-day festive celebrations, even though it means the same and is considered equally important. According to the myths, instead of one Santa Clause, Icelandic culture has 13 Santa’s that are called Yule Lads by the people, these are supposed to come down from high mountains one-by-one and they can be seen hiding downtown. According to Icelandic legend, Yule Lads bring presents to the Icelandic children and they come with a potato for naughty kids.

Vík village during winter

Spectacular View

As we have already mentioned, during this time of the year there is almost darkness or twilight throughout the day. This gives a very beautiful perspective of the Icelandic beauty and presents as a once in a lifetime opportunity to the photographers. Winter Solstice is also the perfect time if you want to experience northern lights and celebrate with the locals. You can soak your soul in the festive atmosphere and experience what it’s like to be with the young Icelanders and attend large parties and live music events that are organized.

A major reason why winter is the best time to experience the true cultural magic of Iceland is that it is the time when only a handful of tourists visit Iceland, this means that the crowd during these months of the year is mostly local and the country will offer you solitude and best of the sightseeing experience.

winter and snow at Kleifarvatn Lake in Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

What to do in Winter Solstice?

Being is a country with such a rich cultural history that can open gates for a lot of opportunities and activities that you can participate in during your visit. If you have chosen the time of Winter Solstice to visit this country, then there are a lot of things that you can participate in and make your time more special.

During midwinter, you can experience the nightlife of Iceland, as many live music events are organized where people from all over the world come and participate. There is dance, there is music, food, people and everything that you can think of that will make your stay in this beautiful country special. Winter Solstice is the best time to try some of the most special dishes of the country and experience what it’s like to eat the authentic Icelandic cuisine. Icelandic cuisine has some of the best and unique dishes of lamb, dairy, and fish that are served in local restaurants. You can also join a buffet during the winter solstice to eat as much as you want from the pool of dishes.

Another major adventure activity that you can do while spending your time in Iceland during the winter Solstice is watching the northern lights that are also popularly known as the aurora. This spectacular presentation of mother nature is exceptional and a very special moment.

winter road trip in Iceland in snow and pink skies

What to Pack on Your Tour?

As the name already suggests, Winter Solstice is a time when you may have to face extremely cold climatic conditions in most of Iceland. So, it becomes very necessary to focus on what we are packing while visiting Iceland at this time of the year. The temperature during this time of the year falls to 30-39° Fahrenheit, so it is advised to pack the dress in layers. This will allow you to enjoy outdoor activities and events with comfort. At the same time, you can take off some layers if you want to wander inside a museum or sip coffee sitting in a café. During the Winter Solstice, it is important to stay dry and warm. So, it is advised to carry a pair of waterproof gloves and boots every time you are stepping out. Waterproof boots will save you from the risk of hypothermia and make sure that there is no hindrance in your traveling. You can check out our Iceland Winter Packing List for more details on what to pack for your trip. 

Iceland is indeed one of the most beautiful regions of the world, especially for those who want to experience what it is like to be in under the true influence and warmth of mother nature. If you are planning a visit to this beautiful heavenly country, and you are someone who loves the diversity of culture, then it is advised to visit this country during the Winter Solstice festival. You will get a chance to experience the true colors and tastes of Icelandic culture and it’ll be indeed an experience worth it.

We hope we have told you everything that you wanted to know about Winter Solstice and helped you prove the area of traveling to this country. Happy Winter Solstice!

sunset over the glacier on a snowmobile trip
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