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Christmas Markets in Iceland

|December 12, 2018
As part of my Event and Business Management degree, I decided to move to Iceland to join the marketing department at Arctic Adventures. I love exploring, photography and going on new adventures.

Wandering around Christmas markets is a great way to get into the festive mood. Here are the best markets that Iceland has to offer.

I think it’s only fair to begin this blog by being honest with you. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is that Iceland is not best known for their Christmas Markets. The good news is that the Christmas Markets that are here, are absolutely spectacular.

As December comes around, snow falls to the floor and exuberant decorative lights fill the sky, we know that Christmas is fast approaching. Thanks to the increase in winter tourism in Iceland, Christmas markets have come popping up all around the place.

In true Icelandic traditions, Advent starts 4 Sundays before Christmas Day. This is the perfect time to layer up, gather all your festive cheer and spend time eating, drinking and taking in the sights of these magical markets.

Photo: Elizabeth Ellis

Christmas Village In Hafnarfjorður

Opening times: Every Saturday and Sunday between 12:00 – 17:00 during the weeks of Advent.

Slightly over 20 minutes away from Reykjavik you will find this Christmas Village. Live music fills the air with sound, horses hooves patter on the ground and aromas from traditional food and drinks tantalise all your senses. The holiday season is all about joy and spending time with your loved ones and what better way to do that than immersing yourself in Icelandic culture, the stalls and shops sell crafts and designs all which make beautiful presents.

Icelandic Santa Clauses known as the Yule Lads may even make an appearance if you’re lucky. Known as the town of elves make sure to keep your eyes peeled for creatures you may see hiding among the Christmas decorations and scurrying between stalls.

Hafnarfjörður is a town in the southwest of Iceland near to the coastline and is a very popular city in Iceland. It is a great place to see what else Iceland has to offer away from Reykjavik and the tourism scenes.

Christmas Market at Ellidavatnsbaer in Heidmork

Opening times: Every weekend from 25th November until 17th December between 12:00 and 17:00.

Enchanting Heiðmörk woods is home to another Christmas Market. With a more relaxed approach, this market has plenty to offer. Live music will play in the background as you find all things home-made from products, crafts and food. Located on the outskirts of Reykjavik and only a 15-minute drive, you will find yourself in this woodland wonderland.   

Don’t forget about the Christmas forest where you are able to chop down your own Christmas tree to take home and fill with vibrant festive decorations. The amazing thing about this Christmas Tree sale that is for every one sold, 50 are planted. The other advantage to being out in the woods is that it may be the perfect opportunity to spot the alluring Northern Lights. That would certainly be the star on top of any Christmas tree.

The traditional Christmas Market at Árbær Open Air Museum

Open daily 13:00 -17:00 but the Christmas program may vary slightly so be sure to check.

This is probably the closest you will get to an authentic Icelandic Christmas if you are not of Icelandic nationality. This market is somewhat different as it has more opportunities to get involved in the making and doing of Christmas traditions. From knitting, crafting decorations or baking leaf bread, you will feel as though you are straight out of a Christmas movie scene. Learning to make candles is also something that you can take part in, however, keep a close eye on them as Kertasníkir, one of the Yule Lads, known as ‘candle snatcher’ might just snatch one up.

This is also a place where you can try some Icelandic delicacies. Smoked Lamb and Skate are just some examples of what types of food you are able to try here. Furthermore, this authentic experience is bought even more to life by being held in a museum dedicated to telling the story of how life was in Reykjavik in earlier times.

The Classic Christmas Market in Ingólfstorg Square

What a perfect way to spend a frosty winters evening, gliding gracefully across the ice or in some (most) cases desperately clinging to the side to stay on two feet, looking very elegant of course. The man-made ice rink in the square provides a fun-filled atmosphere as wooden huts laced with Christmas lights sparkle above. Street food is served and there is so much to look at.

Although not the biggest Christmas markets in the world, Iceland´s traditions and hospitality make this little gem a great experience. Make sure to bring your own skates for free entry!

Perlan in winter. Photo: Tony Hisgett

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