Most Reykjavik restaurants fully booked or closed at Christmas

Most of those open are in hotels.  Find the list of all the restaurants in Reykjavik HERE and their opening hours.  A few restaurants are however open, Bryggjan Brugghús is open until 9.30 pm, Steikhúsið until 11 pm and Skólabrú until midnight on Christmas Eve.  “We’re fully booked on Christmas Eve. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> According to the restaurants listed as open on Christmas Eve, December 24th on visitreykjavik.is, it seems most of them are closed. It’s been fully booked for over a month,” says owner of central restaurant Skólabrú. Only tourists are booked at the restaurant as the Icelandic tradition on Christmas Eve is to eat dinner at 6 pm at a family home. 

Iceland’s unseasonably warm December continues

The capital Reykjavik is set to see a high 7°C (44.6°F) today, while the average temperature for the first seven days of this month was 7.3°C (45.1°F). A comparison of the 2016 figure of 7.3°C for the first week of December with historical records for the same period reveals the biggest difference comes in respect of the year 1885. MORE: Early December warmest in Iceland since records began MORE: Enjoying Iceland’s December heatwave? As can be seen from the graph below, this is considerably higher than the average whole-month December temperatures since records began. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> Iceland continues to bask in (relatively) balmy conditions with maximum temperatures above freezing all over the country. The first week of December that year saw an average temperature of -6.5°C (20.3°F), almost 14°C colder than the week we have just enjoyed.

Iceland’s wait continues for news of next government

Informal discussions – focussing chiefly on taxation issues – have been going all week and it was initially thought a decision on locking in formal talks would be announced today. “These negotiations have gone well and the representatives of the parties have reduced the distance between them in several weight matters,” the text reads. Tomorrow it will be six full weeks since Icelanders voted in general elections for a new set of parliamentary representatives. Jónsdóttir currently favours an unprecedented five-party coalition from centre-right through to left to oust the current government. A statement issued yesterday evening by the five parties, however, confirms that the informal phase will continue through the weekend. However, despite positive noises, talks have yet to proceed to the formal stage. noncleared-maintext”> A full week after a third presidential mandate to form a new coalition government to rule Iceland was given, no formal talks have yet begun. Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir is currently in charge of the latest attempt to cobble together a majority governing alliance.

Michelin Guide recommends Reykjavik restaurant

Plokkfiskur, which is a traditional mash of fish, potatoes and bechamel sauce is done with a crispy crust of rye bread and turnips. Just like its sister-restaurant Slippurinn, Matur og drykkur lays emphasis on traditional Icelandic food which means you will find things such as cod cheeks, plokkfiskur fish mash and harðfiskur – dried fish.  However, the manner of presenting these foods is always modern and fun. Their mussels are nothing short of perfect, served in a mild broth.  The wine list is extensive and, for Iceland, at a fair price.  For more information see their Facebook page HERE .@maturogdrykkur is a super place beside the @SagaMuseum #Reykjavik pic.twitter.com/kTV2FxaJ3z The interior walls exhibit the history of the building and the décor is done in a simple, bistro style. noncleared-maintext”> Matur og drykkur, a fairly new restaurant in central Reykjavik has received a great mention by the famous Michelin guide.  Matur og drykkur simply means food and drink, and is situated in an old fishing factory at Grandi. — The MICHELIN Guide (@MichelinGuideUK) December 6, 2016

No response from Iceland to attempt to resolve trademark row

noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> The Icelandic government were approached by Iceland Foods back in 2006 in order to strike a deal on the ‘Iceland’ trademark, but did not respond to the offer, it has been claimed. MORE: Iceland Foods boss hits out at “unwilling to compromise” Iceland At the time, Iceland Foods had Icelandic majority shareholders and Icelandic representatives on its board, but the Icelandic government failed to respond to the offer, Jóhannesson claims. Icelandic business tycoon Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, whose investment company Baugur owned the frozen-food supermarket chain, has told the Evening Standard that the Icelandic government was offered a “very fair agreement” back in 2006.

Iceland asylum seeker critical after setting himself on fire

In the first ten months of the year, 85 applications for international protection from Macedonians were received, all of which were rejected. The incident occurred around 2pm yesterday at the Víðines asylum-seeker accommodation centre near the Greater Reykjavik municipality of Mosfellsbær. The last few months has seen a major increase in the number of asylum applications to Iceland from nationals of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> A Macedonian asylum seeker who doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire yesterday afternoon is still in critical condition in hospital. In October, they made up over half of the 200 applications received in October. The young man, who is Macedonian and whose asylum case is currently with the Icelandic Foreigner Issue Complaints Committee, poured petrol over himself and self-immolated, sustaining serious burns. He was rushed to intensive care in Reykjavik and remains in a life-threatening condition today.

Worst ever PISA results for Icelandic schoolchildren

Performance in science has seen the most dramatic fall in comparison to previous surveys. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> Icelandic fifteen-year-olds achieved their lowest ever score in maths, science and reading in the 2015 PISA tests and now lag behind students in many other developed countries, it has emerged. The PISA tests are a worldwide study of students’ proficiency in maths, science and reading conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) every three years. The results show the worst ever performance for Iceland in all three disciplines since records began, with Icelandic students now scoring below the OECD average across the board. Iceland also has the lowest attainment levels in these three disciplines of all the Nordic nations. Some 540,000 students in 72 countries (members and non-members of OECD) were tested in 2015.

November big month for jet-setting Icelanders

Again, 2007 is the reference year, when 470,000 locals travelled abroad. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> Just over 45,000 Icelanders departed on international flights from Keflavík International Airport (KEF) last month – the highest number ever. There were, on average, 51 departures a day from KEF last month. This works out at an average of 1,500 departing Icelanders every day – enough to fill eight average-sized passenger jets. Another record to be broken imminently is the annual number of departing Icelanders. The previous record dates back to 2007, when just under 41,000 locals jetted abroad for business or pleasure. This is according to Icelandic travel and tourism news website Turisti (link in Icelandic). By the end of last month, the 2016 figure was already 495,000 – leaving the previous record in tatters.

PHOTOS: Reykjavik among world’s most beautiful cities

“[Reykjavik’s] backdrop of snow-streaked, skulking black peaks and unforgivingly frigid-looking North Atlantic is dramatic enough, but add the colour pops of the capital’s painted rainbow of rooftops and it’s a damn work of art.” Iceland’s capital is in fine company in this list, rubbing shoulders with such beautiful places as Boston, Dubrovnik and Lisbon. Check out the full review of Reykjavik and the other top picks here. Deputy Head of Travel Laura Chubb selects Reykjavik for special mention. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik has been chosen as one of the world’s most beautiful cities by the travel team of The Independent. And it’s no less captivating for it,” she writes. “Reykjavik offers an Arctic take on Rio’s tropical formula. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Rósa Braga Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson

Early December warmest in Iceland since records began

noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> The first week of this month has been the hottest first week in December in the Icelandic capital of Reykajvik in 145 years, latest data suggest. The temperature in Reykjavik yesterday was 8°C higher than the average for the time of year, and the month of December as a whole likely to end up being one of the ‘Top 10’ warmest months ever, according to meteorologist Trausti Jónsson. Wind direction is the main factor, with southerly winds having been prevalent over in the autumn and in recent weeks. MORE: Enjoying Iceland’s December heatwave? While the northern town of Akureyri is also currently enjoying unseasonably warm weather, there are warmer years on record. This first week of the month has been the warmest ever seen in Reykjavik since records began back in 1871. According to Jónsson, general global warming is in part responsible for the current warm temperatures in Iceland, but only to a certain extent. This has brought warmer air to Iceland and kept the seas to the north relatively free of pack-ice.

Iceland’s WOW air gets new jet today

noncleared-maintext”> Icelandic low-cost airline WOW air is taking delivery of the twelfth aircraft in its fleet today, a brand-new Airbus A321 aircraft, registered TF-JOY. It has been playfully registered TF-JOY, in the WOW air tradition of using the last three latters of their aircraft’s code to express modern family values and feelings. “It is a pleasure to offer our passengers the very newest aircraft in Iceland,” says CEO of WOW Skúli Mogensen. The aircraft is equipped with extra fuel tanks for greater operating range, and fewer seats (220) and more legroom than the configuration used by other low-cost airlines, a press release from the airline states. “The new A321 aircraft are quiet, economical and environmentally friendly.” The new plane is flying direct from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, Germany, today.

Stronger currency to hit Icelandic tourism industry

Wage rises – leading to higher overheads for tourism operators – are also a factor, but less so than the stronger króna.” noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> Wage rises and an ever more expensive króna will put prices up for tourists from Iceland’s main markets and could harm the tourist industry, an industry leader warns. “When we present foreign wholesalers and agencies with our tariffs for 2017, they see that Iceland is getting more expensive year on year,” Garðarsson explains. MORE: Strong króna means Iceland tourists are not staying as longMORE: Iceland hotel room prices up 38% since 2013 “The increase is mainly due to the rise in Iceland’s national currency. “It is clear that Icelandic tourism will not be as profitable this year as it was in 2015,” says Þórir Garðarsson, COB and Head of Corporate Development at tour operator Gray Line Iceland.

Could Iceland be heading for new elections?

“If the upshot of the political conflicts of 2016 is that the election results [of 29 October] make it impossible to line things up in such a way as to foster trust and a common vision for the tasks ahead, then I see no problem in voting again. This is just democratic.” He admits, however, that he does not necessarily see this at the most likely scenario at this stage. “It wouldn’t be a catastrophe,” said the Finance Minister in Iceland’s current caretaker government Bjarni Benediktsson on Icelandic national television yesterday. noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> As informal talks between Iceland’s newly elected representatives drag on, with no formal solution in sight, the possibility of sending the people back to the polls is being mooted in some quarters.

Iceland Christmas and New Year tours selling out

noncleared-maintext bigimgs-interleaved”> The popularity of Iceland as a winter destination is becoming evident, which huge increases in the number of bookings for special Christmas and New Year tours. “We currently have four times more people booked for our New Year tours than last year,” says Þórdís Lóa Þórhallsdóttir, CEO of tour company Gray Line Iceland. MORE: More tourists choosing winter for their Iceland trip “We have been developing our tours to provide new experiences for tourists over Christmas and New Year,” Þórhallsdóttir explains.

Foo Fighters and Prodigy at Iceland Secret Solstice 2017

Both bands have previously performed in Iceland – Foo Fighters twice, in 2005 and 2007, and The Prodigy back in 2004. First announced names for Secret Solstice 2007: FOO FIGHTERS THE PRODIGY RICHARD ASHCROFT DUBFIRE PHAROAHE MONCH FOREIGN BEGGARS DUSKY KERRI CHANDLER RHYE HÖGNI KIASMOS ÚLFUR ÚLFUR SOUL CLAP JOHN ACQUAVIVA WOLF + LAMB AMABADAMA EMMSJÉ GAUTI TANIA VULCANO DROOG YOTTO NOVELIST SOFFÍA BJÖRG ARTWORK KLOSE ONE TINY BENSOL SHADES OF REYKJAVÍK GKR ARON CAN DAVE LORD PUSSWHIP KRYSKO & GREG LORD [UK] HILDUR KSF ALVIA ISLANDIA SXSXSX FOX TRAIN SAFARI KILO CAPTAIN SYRUP  noncleared-maintext”> Foo Fig­hters and The Prodigy are among the big names already announced for the 2017 Secret Solstice music festival to be held in Iceland next summer. The festival will take place on 15-18 June and the first patch of confirmed performer names was released by organisers yesterday. Tickets for Secret Solstice are on sale here.