On New Year’s Eve, the Nordic countries offer visitors a lot of entertainment including parties, fireworks, and more celebrations. You can spend your New Year’s Eve at a large, outdoor celebration or staying warm in a cosy restaurant or hip indie bar.
“Gott Nytt Ar!” Stockholm, Sweden, offers a lot of great options: if you want something low-key, there are plenty of relaxing activities and celebrations to take part in, including the traditional medieval church concert or New Year’s Eve poetry performances. Or, you can go ice-skating in the city, or check out the wide variety of nightclubs, vibrant parties and firework displays. At the stroke of midnight, join the locals outdoors to toast with champagne while watching the fireworks. During the old days, the New Year’s tradition in Sweden was to shoot towards each point of the compass: these shootings were meant to keep away evil and from there originated today’s firewrok celebrations at midnight.
“Gleðilegt Nýtt Ár!” Reykjavik, Iceland: prepare yourself for a night of fireworks, bonfires and parties. Iceland’s capital certainly knows how to celebrate this occasion, and the long, dark nights at this time of the year don’t put anybody off: you will even have a chance to wonder at the Northern Lights before the firework displays start. If you prefer to stay indoors to celebrate, don’t miss out on their annual tradition of the New Year’s Comedy Show on TV, which offers a satirical take on all the events of the past year.
“Godt Nytår!” Copenhagen, Denmark, is a fantastic destination for a New Year’s trip: at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, you’ll find a gigantic crowd gathered at the town square of Amalienborg, the Royal Palace located in the center of Copenhagen, for one of the biggest New Year parties in the city. Don’t miss out on the Royal Guard Parade wearing their dress red gala costumes. If indoor fun is more what you had planned, there are New Year’s buffets, bars, and nightclub special events, and fireworks celebrations. One really old (and weird) tradition in Denmark is to break dishes on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours on New Year’s Eve: the more broken dishes you find on your doorsteps, the more friends you have.
“Godt nyttår!” Oslo, Norway: if you’re hoping for a quieter New Year’s experience then the celebrations in Oslo, might be ideal for you. Many Norwegians prefer to spend their New Year’s Eve enjoying private celebrations with family and friends, but there are several events you can attend with many locations offering special dinners and entertainment for visitors. The fireworks from the central town hall area are grandiose, just remember to wear layers, since the temperatures can dip dramatically for those celebrating outdoors. There is a Halloween like tradition in Norway on New Year’s Eve, which is called ‘Nyttarsbukk’: people dress up fancy and visit friends and family members, who in return treat them with drinks and food. They also prepare the symbolic dish of rice pudding with an almond in it. The lucky one who gets to eat the almond is believed to benefit with a sweet year ahead.
“Hyvää uutta vuotta!” Helsinki, Finland, host the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in Scandinavia. The bells are rung at midnight at the Helsinki Cathedral and tens of thousands of people gather at the Kansalaistori Square for a gorgeous firework display accompanied by good music, delicious food and lots of dancing. If you don’t have a private New Year’s party to attend in Helsinki, you should have no problem finding a local bar or club with New Year’s Eve events. Finns used to be very superstitious in the old times: they used to cast tin and interpret its shapes. If the tin came out patchy it was believed to bring prosperity for the next year. Like in Sweden, Finland also believed that bad spirits were around: the evil was scared away by being very noisy and setting on fires. It leads to the current tradition of shooting fireworks at the New Year Eve.
One last curiosity: if you go to Tornio (Finland), which lies right next to the Swedish-Finnish river that divides the two countries (and two time zones), you can celebrate the New Year there, then drive five minutes to Haparanda (Sweden), and celebrate the New Year again, an hour later, there. Celebrate twice and join the many parties on both sides.