Learn about Iceland's Christmas traditions inside an authentic turf house at Árbær museum

The Best Reykjavik Christmas Markets

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Where are Iceland's best Christmas markets? Picture by Óli Haukur Mýrdal

Where are Christmas markets in Reykjavík? What happens at Christmas markets in Iceland? Find the best Christmas markets in Reykjavík here.

Christmas markets have for the longest time been an attraction all over Europe, and people flock to snowy countries with tall mountains in search for wooden cabins, snow covered pine trees and mulled wine to find the perfect Christmas spirit.

It might then come as a surprise that markets are not at all common in Iceland. The population is just too small to make a regular market thrive, and the only longstanding market in Reykjavík that's open all year long is the Fleamarket Kolaportið.

But that's all changing, and pop-up markets are happening here and there - and Reykjavík has a new Food Hall (Hlemmur Mathöll) that's sure to change the market and food scene in the upcoming years in Reykjavík.

With the surge in tourism, and especially surge in winter tourism - there are suddenly enough people milling about downtown to make Christmas markets thrive. So thank you travellers, for helping to make more exciting events take place in Reykjavík! :D

From the Christmas market in Heiðmörk Nature Reserve

Most markets however are still indoors, as there's no relying on the weather being that picture perfect soft Christmas snow falling down - if there's a strong gale and hail, nobody wants to spend their time outside.

But in recent years, some markets have now established themselves - and it looks like they're here to stay. So lets round up the best ones.

FYI, the Icelandic Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas Day, in 2017 that means the first in Advent is Sunday the 3rd of December and the last in Advent is Christmas Eve, 24th of December. During this period there are dozens of pop-up one day markets, Christmas buffets and live Christmas concerts all over town. To look for smaller Christmas markets, simply type in the Icelandic word 'jólamarkaður' in the search bar on facebook or Google, and see how many pop up!

Hlemmur Mathöll Food Hall
- The New (Foodie) Christmas Market

A hot cuppa at Te & Kaffi at Hlemmur Mathöll Food Hall in Reykjavík

Picture by Zoe Sarsanedas

Hlemmur Mathöll Food Hall only opened in August 2017, so this is its first year of throwing a Christmas market. Since its opening it's been a triumphing success story, with multiple pop up events and fresh produce markets. The Food Hall is indoors, with multiple top notch restaurants, bakery, café and an ice-cream shop.

In there you'll find Brauð & Co bakery, Micro Roast Te & Kaffi café, SKÁL! restaurant, Kröst wine bar & restaurant, La Poblana Mexican cuisine, Banh Mí Vietnamese street food, Borðið Italian/Icelandic fusion restaurant, Rabar Barinn grocery market, Jómfrúin Scandinavian Kitchen and Ísleifur Heppni ice cream parlour.

Outdoors however there have been pop-up markets with fresh produce and for Christmas there may be some Christmas trees for sale. Rabar Barinn has been known to sell fresh flowers indoors, and I expect some Christmas flowers and pine cone decorations to appear on a table indoors.

Focus will however be on food - and this may well be the only place in town offering mulled wine (that hasn't yet become a staple Christmas drink in Iceland). Details are yet to come, however expect live music, festive decorations and fun spirits!

Christmas Market Opening Times:

Every Saturday and Sunday from the 2nd of December until the 23rd of December between 11:00 and 16:00.
Hlemmur Food Hall is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Ice skating on Ingólfstorg
- The Classic Christmas Market

Ice skating rink in downtown Reykjavík during Christmas time

Picture by Óli Haukur Mýrdal

Alpin-like wooden huts, Christmas lights twinkling above, and an ice rink right in between - the perfect Christmas picture!

For a few years running now, there has been a man-made ice rink put up on Ingólfstorg square, right in the middle of downtown Reykjavík. The telephone company Nova puts the ice rink up, and rents out ice skates and helmets. Ice skate rental is mere 990 ISK for the hour. But if you bring your own ice skates, then entry is free!

Of course, you can simply soak up the atmosphere, without pulling on any skates.

Christmas Market Opening Times:

Grand opening on 1st of December at 19:00-22:00.
Open every day from 1st of December until 23rd of December from 12:00-22:00.

Christmas Town in Hafnarfjörður
- The Big Christmas Market

Jólaþorpið, The Christmas Town, in Hafnarfjörður - Iceland

Hafnarfjörður is a suburban town next to Reykjavík, known for being the town of elves and the town of lava and for their annual Viking Village celebrations. But they are also known for being the town of Christmas! Of course, elves and trolls are closely related to Christmas traditions in Iceland, so it's fitting that the town takes on a big Christmas theme each year.

In 2017 it's the 15th time that this Christmas market takes place, so it's also the longest running one in the capital area. Expect around twenty Christmas huts selling all sorts of biscuits, cookies, hot drinks, local handicraft and festive decorations. Horse carriage rides are available, and lots of live music and other live entertainment.

Christmas Market Opening Times:

Grand opening on 1st of December at 18:00.
Open every Saturday and Sunday from 2nd of December until 17th of December from 12:00-17:00. 
Open on the 23rd of December from 12:00-22:00

Inside the Heiðmörk Forest
- The Natural Christmas Market

Right on the outskirts of Reykjavík is a beautiful Nature Reserve called Heiðmörk. Surrounded by a small forest, snow and beautiful nature you can enjoy a Christmas market each weekend during Advent in a tranquil area.

Expect live music, reading from books by Icelandic authors, a children's corner with entertainment, local handicraft for sale - and of course you can buy your Christmas tree here. The Christmas tree sale is sustainable and eco-friendly, conducted by the Reykjavík Forest Service. For each tree that is sold, 50 new ones are planted.

Christmas Market Opening Times:

Saturdays and Sundays between 25th of November until 17th of December between 12:00-17:00.

Christmas at Árbær Open Air Museum
- The Traditional Christmas Market

Learn about Iceland's Christmas traditions inside an authentic turf house at Árbær museum

Picture from Árbær Open Air Museum

If you want to get to know how Icelanders used to celebrate Christmas a few decades or centuries ago, then be sure to head to the Árbær Open Air Museum. A great museum to visit any time of year, during the Christmas Holiday Season they put on an additional Christmas program.

Try your hand at knitting, craft some Christmas decorations or cut out patterns in a traditional leaf bread. Have a taste of the traditional Skate (normally eaten on the 23rd of December) or the smoked lamb (Hangikjöt), that's often served as Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Or you can learn how to make candles, just make sure they don't get nicked by Candle Snatcher, or Kertasníkir - one of the 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses that may be hanging out in the area.

And of course you can also buy some handicraft and confectionary, or simply sing and dance around a Christmas tree.

The museum is open daily from 13:00-17:00, but the Christmas program takes place on the first three Sundays in Advent, the 3rd, 10th and 17th of December.

What's your favourite Christmas market in Reykjavík?

See Also: New Year's Eve in Iceland

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