ICELAND TOURIST BOARD                                                                      DATELINE NOVEMBER 2010


With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, thoughts turn to what comes next – that universal holiday celebrated throughout most of the world. No, not the great bargains on Black Friday. We're talking the big one. The one that makes us merry.

Christmas in Iceland is in many ways similar to Christmas in the United States, except Icelanders celebrate 13 days of Christmas. The period starts on December 24 and ends on January 6, which is when all Christmas decorations are removed from streets and houses. This tradition is believed to extend back to the 4th and 5th centuries in Europe where the birth of Christ was celebrated on December 25th and his christening and the three wise men were celebrated on January 6.

Icelanders have not one, but thirteen Santas, or Yule Lads. These lads are not related to Santa Claus in any way. They are descendants of trolls and were originally used to scare children. In the last century, however, they have become a lot friendlier.

New Year's Eve is probably the biggest party night of the whole year. The most distinguishing characteristic of an Icelandic New Year's Eve are the fireworks. Everyone buys fireworks and on this night everyone is allowed to light them (we wonder if afterwards there's big demand for four-fingered gloves). Fireworks explode all night long, reaching the high point at midnight, when the sky lights up for a few minutes as the fire trucks and harbored ships ring their bells and blow their horns to welcome the new year. It is certainly the grandest display of fireworks you will ever see. After midnight, people gather either downtown to go clubbing or at parties where they drink the night away, often until the early hours of the morning.

It's not too late to book your trip north. Learn more about Christmas in Iceland here:


When things get too heated in Washington, D.C., next spring, members of Congress, and anyone else for that matter, can cool off outside the Beltway, way outside.

Icelandair will begin seasonal service from Washington Dulles International Airport with four flights a week starting May 17, 2011 through September 13, 2011. See below for a special deal that saves you $100.

Washington, D.C. will be the latest city added to the 2011 Icelandair schedule with a total of eight North American gateways and over 20 destinations in Europe. Earlier this year, Icelandair announced service to a host of new destinations in Europe. Their 2011 network will feature more departures from North America, with the largest schedule in its 73-year history. In peak season, Icelandair will offer 183 flights per week, a 17 percent increase in scheduled service.

Icelandair has benefited from the low value of the Icelandic Krona, which at one time allowed prices for accommodation and meals to halve for most visitors, and very attractive to vacationers who have always wanted to visit the country but had repeatedly put if off because of the cost issue. In addition to Washington, D.C., Icelandair offers non-stop service to Iceland from Boston, New York-JFK, Seattle, and seasonal service from Minneapolis - St. Paul, Orlando Sanford, Halifax and Toronto. Connections through Icelandair's hub at Keflavik International Airport are available to over 20 destinations in Scandinavia, the U.K. and Continental Europe. Icelandair also allows passengers to stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.

(For more information:, 877 I-FLY-ICE).


If hiking on a glacier sounds like something you could only experience on television in sweatpants, think again. An Iceland glacier walk is a great way to experience nature and the Sólheimajökull glacier is an ideal way to spend the day. The Eyjafjallajökull massif is only two hours from Reykjavík, and is a safe and easy glacier walk to an ice field where a wonderland of natural ice sculptures, ridges and deep crevasses await your discovery. Just a little further east, the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue extends down from its mother glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland's fourth largest. On the way back there's a stop at the picturesque waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Experienced mountain guides will teach you how to use the basic ice equipment necessary for this tour.

For more info, click here.


Ólöf Arnalds new album, Innundir Skinni has achieved critical acclaim from the notoriously aloof music review site Pitchfork. The album, which translates loosely to "under the skin" received an 8 out of 10, and is compared to her previous album thusly: "Innundir Skinni, is fuller-sounding than Við Og Við, but its pleasures are just as elusive and profound." See "They Said It" below for more on Ólöf.

The full review can be read at:

Scientists at the University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences now consider that the volcanic eruption which began on Fimmvörduháls ridge between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull on March 20 and lasted until April 12, and continued in the summit crater of Eyjafjallajökull on April 14, is over. The last spew came out of the Eyjafjallajökull summit crater in mid-June.

But there's still much to see and tour groups continue to visit the areas affected by the world-famous eruption. The region is still geothermally active and the eruption channel is still scorching hot—the cooling can take a few years. On Fimmvörduháls embers can still be seen in cracks in the lava and inside the craters but that is not the case in Eyjafjallajökull.

Read more about these findings here:


In a related story, the Iceland Convention and Incentive Bureau won the Best Marketing Award from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

"How can you turn a volcanic eruption and a Europe-wide no-fly zone into a marketing success story?" That was the challenge that Iceland faced this year. Anna Valdimarsdottir from Iceland Convention and Incentive Bureau wowed the 720 attendees from 59 countries attending ICCA's flagship event by demonstrating how this disaster was turned into a nationwide, all-citizen, global marketing campaign, resulting in a tiny reduction in business compared to what had originally been expected.

The ICCA Best Marketing Award, established in 1997, recognizes the excellence and outstanding achievements of organizations in their effort to market their destination or product.

Read the entire announcement here:


The theme music for a viral video by our friends at has been stuck in our brains for months now. The song, by Italian-Icelandic singer/songwriter Emiliana Torrini, has people dancing all over Iceland. The key message? Iceland is more alive than ever, bursting with energy, activity and hospitality. It makes us want to get up and dance, but someone has to sit here writing Dateline. YouTube flagged it as being too risqué. You be the judge:


Fjallabyggd ("Mountain Settlement") is a skier's dream. Its slopes are perfect for downhill and there are tracks for telemark skiing. Winter sport enthusiasts can also go ice skating, rent snowmobiles and try ice fishing. Fjallabyggd (pop. 2,200) is a municipality in northeast Iceland uniting the towns of Ólafsfjördur and Siglufjördur. Good news for visitors: the distance between the towns actually dropped to 90 miles, down from 140 miles with the opening of a new tunnel in 2009.

When the snow melts, Fjallabyggd turns into a paradise for hikers. There are a variety of hiking paths in the majestic landscape. Tourists are also drawn to the black-sand beaches and the peaceful Ólafsfjardarvatn Lake, which is about as hard to pronounce as that world famous volcano of ours.

Anglers can choose from a range of locations. Apart from fishing in the lake, they can fish in the rivers Ólafsfjardará and Hólsá, try their luck with saltwater fishing on Hédinsfjördur fjord, or simply toss their baited hook off the pier.

Midnight cruises, some of which cross the Arctic Circle, are available and can be combined with hiking trips.

Journalist Andrew Evans writes about Siglufjördur in the Bradt Iceland Guide (

"This is the kind of town where nobody locks their doors, where everyone knows each other, but where outsiders are as welcome as the sun."

He continues, "A most remarkable trek crosses the eastern mountains at the Hestskard Pass and down into the untouched Hédinsfjördur or "heathen's fjord." Free of roads, traffic, people and towns, this may very well be the most pristine fjord in the whole country."

For further information visit or call +354 464 9200 (Ólafsfjördur) and +354 464-9100 (Siglufjördur). See more at:


Popular New York-based fashion blogger and author Jessica Quirk of raved about her honeymoon in Iceland last month. The winner of an contest, Jessica is currently hard at work on her upcoming book - What I Wore: A Recipe for Style, Day by Day and Season by Season to be published by Ballantine Books/Random House in spring 2011. That's Jessica and her photographer husband Adam Quirk who took this self-portrait at the base of Eyjafjallajökull which they visited on a super jeep volcano tour.

Jessica blogs, "Our trip to Iceland was nothing short of amazing. We especially loved the adventure, the countryside, the quaint capital of Reykjavik and the food. The weather was incredible as well (no rain, beautiful sunsets, as warm as 14C). … If you plan to visit Iceland get into the countryside. I just can't stress enough how beautiful and wonderful the scenery and driving is in Iceland. It's such a calm and peaceful place. Renting a car is easy for Americans, but gas is expensive. Still, it's worth it to drive around by yourself for a couple of hours. Again, the language barrier (even with road signs) was no issue at all."

Read her two Iceland honeymoon postings here:


"With a national population of barely half of the greater Seattle area but a staggeringly high literacy rate and a tendency to support all areas of artistic endeavor, Iceland boasts a high concentration of musicians — many of whom are in multiple bands at once. … Since punk first took hold of the city, its central tenets have remained strong – not the later interpreted tendency to piss off one's parents but the necessity to do something different. No two bands in Reykjavik are alike. There's just not enough room! And that has lead to a microcosm of music found nowhere else."

Jim Beckmann, Seattle, 90.3 FM blog. (See the entire blog here:

"For me, it's obviously the show but winning this contest came with a lot of other perks that I'm excited about. For instance, we get a free trip to the Blue Lagoon hot springs, bottled glacier water and, as they put it, ‘extremely warm hats.' The hot springs look other-worldly, I can't wait to check those out. I can't believe I'm bringing swim shorts to Iceland. The whole thing is pretty damn cool. The moment I think about the most is getting off the plane and really being in Iceland. Right now, it just seems like a fantasy."

– Singer Ethan Anderson of the band Massy Ferguson of winning the opportunity to play the Iceland Airwaves music festival []

"Got to see a ton of Icelandic bands I can't spell, Toro y Moi, James Blake, and went to the Blue Lagoon to swim and rub mud on (my) face. Going to see Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club, Mount Kimbie and some others tonight. Iceland is a dream: the bars don't even close until 6a.m. and the girls are pretty, tall and blond."

– Joseph Costa, music director, WRSU, Rutgers University radio, on his trip to Airwaves

"The Imagine Peace Tower consists of a cylindrical ‘Wishing Well,' about seven feet high, covered with special slabs of pure white glass onto which are carved Ono's instruction ‘Imagine Peace' in 24 different languages. The tower stands on a platform 55 feet in diameter and is faced with three types of native Icelandic stone. When the beams happen to coincide with the Northern Lights, as has occurred on a few nights, the celestial spectacle becomes a truly awesome tribute."

– Anne Lindall,, Oct. 14, 2010, See it at:


Free Northern Lights Tour

One of Icelandair's least expensive packages is now an even better deal. Build your own budget holiday and get a free Northern Lights tour. The Northern Lights are a spectacular natural phenomenon often seen dancing in fantastic colors across the Arctic Sky. This trip takes you out of the city and into the countryside to hunt for these elusive, beautiful lights.

From $499* per person based on double occupancy. Dates of availability vary based on Seattle or New York/Boston departure. Tour runs when conditions for Northern Lights are likely.

Click here for more info.

Early Bird Special: $100 Off Flights From D.C.

Travelers who book before Nov. 30 can save $100 off airfare and two nights stay at Icelandair Hotel Loftleidir with this great new offer. This special package deal departs Washington, D.C., at an ideal time to experience all Iceland has to offer. Enjoy shopping for quality Icelandic products, delicious gourmet Icelandic cuisine, invigorating outdoor adventure, legendary nightlife, highland wilderness beauty, soothing spas and more. From $699* per person based on double occupancy.

Click here for more info.

*Prices quoted are exclusive of applicable taxes and official charges by destination of approximately $100-$190, per person including the Sept. 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per U.S. enplanement.

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