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Place of the week - Dining with locals in Selfoss, South Iceland

Would you like to do something different? Why not meet the locals, have a guided walk around Selfoss and then going to a private home for a dinner and chat?

Selfoss is a small town in South Iceland, 57 km from Reykjavík with only about 6.800 inhabitants. Selfoss is by the banks of the river Olfusa, one of the largest rivers in the country. The town is a centre of commerce and small industries. Among other interesting things you will find The Bobby Fischer Centre, a museum dedicated to the master of the Royal Game chess.

Helga and Ragnar offer a short walks around Selfoss, ending at their cosy home, having dinner, coffee and a nice chat. More information on their homepage.

Place of the week - Winter lights festival in Reykjavík

The Winter Lights Festival is an annual event this time held on February 4th-7th.

Opening night is on Thursday 4th and begins with a beautiful outdoor light installation at Harpa Concert Hall.

The Festival celebrates both the winter world and the growing light after a long period of darkness. The program is a mixture of art and industry, environment and history, sports and culture.

The programme reflects the many faces of Reykjavík capital area, with all the major museums, thermal pools and a ski resort.

Check out the program here!

Place of the week - The Memorial of The Great Auk in Reykjanes

The memorial to the last Great Auk (Geirfugl) in Iceland is located near Valahnúkur on Reykjanes Peninsula, closed to Keflavík International Airport.

The memorial of the Great Auk is by the well known artist Todd McGrain and is a part of The Lost Bird Project. Two other Great Auk birds by Todd McGrain can be found in the Zoo in Rom and in Newfoundland near Funk Island.

The last documented pair of Great Auks in Iceland was killed on Eldey Island, on June 3rd, 1844.

Photo Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

Place of the week - Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík

Nauthólsvík is a very popular geothermal beach in Reykjavík.

Sea-swimming is surprisingly popular all year round, with people enjoying the use of the hot-tubs, steam-bath, and changing facilities and showers.

Cold-water swimming might sound crazy, especially in a country like Iceland, however this extreme activity dates all the way back to the age of settlement.

The sea temperature varies from around -1,9°C during the coldest months and around 17°C in the summertime. The temperature of the sea inside the lagoon itself is higher in the summer, averaging at between 15°- 19°C, due to the geothermal heating.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

The Iceland Road Guide wish you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.

Our Christmas photo this year is from the church in Norðfjörður East Iceland. The Church was built in 1896.

Photograph Óttar Sveinsson.

Place of the week - Akureyri in North Iceland

Icelanders decorate their houses for Christmas with colourful ligts to brighten the darkness.

They start decorating by the end of November and usually a big Christmas tree is lit up in the centre of every town and willage with a big ceremony on a Saturday or a Sunday, four weeks before Christmas. That´s the starting of the Christmas preparation.

Akureyri in the north is a lovely town to visit in December. Walking around the town enjoying the colourful Cristmas decorations, listening to Christmas carols, hot chocolate and candlelight. Cosy atmosphere.

On the webpage visitakureyri.is you can find more information about Akureyri.

Place of the week - Dimmuborgir home of the Icelandic Yule Lads

The Icelandic Yule Lads are the 13 sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, vicious trolls that live in in the Mývatn area in north Iceland.

Grýla is ancient - her name is even mentioned in Snorri Sturluson´s thirteenth century Edda.Grýla and Leppalúði brought up their thirteen sons, the Yule Lads by Lake Myvatn. As the lads grew up they wanted a place of their own and Dimmuborgir was the perfect place for them to settle down.

An old legend in Iceland is, that 13 days prior to Christmas the Yule Lads start coming down from the mountain, one each night.

Children in Iceland place their best shoe on their windowsill before going to bed and each night a little gift is left in it from the Yule Lad that came down from the mountain that night. If the child has been misbehaving, there might be a raw potato left instead.

In December the Icelandic Yule Lads welcome guests to visit them in Dimmuborgir in Mývatn everyday between 1 pm and 3 pm. Every year the Yule Lads go in their annual bath in the Mývatn Naturebath where guests can join them and have some fun. Some of the Yule Lads are not happy with this tradition, because they don´t like the water. The bath takes place two weeks before Christmas.

More information about the Yule Lads can be found on the webpage visitmyvatn.is

Place of the week - The Settlement Centre in Borgarnes

The Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, West Iceland, is the place of the week. The centre reveals Egils Saga and the Settlement Saga in an entertaining and simple way by leading the visitor into the adventure world of the sagas by audio guides in 14 different languages.

The Egils Saga exhibition describes one of the most colourful of all the saga characters, Egill the son of Skalla-Grimur. Egill was a great poet but also a viking and ribald abroad. The story intertwines battles and love affairs, sorcery and pagan lore.

The Settlement exhibition portrays the first men who set foot in Iceland and how the country was settled up until the Althingi parliament was founded in the year 930. By using the modern technology of multi-media and theatre an attempt is made to give the visitor a sense of how it must have been to set foot in unsettled territory.

The Icelandic Settlement Centre is open all year, for further information see settlementcentre.is

Place of the week - The Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are visible in Iceland from September until April.

The best time in the day to see them is around 9 pm till 2 am. There is a strong connection between the solar winds and the Northern Lights. The lights are caused by the speed of the solar winds, and the direction and magnitude of their magnetic fields.

Many tour operators in Iceland offer mystery evening tours "to hunt for the Northern Lights". The Northern Lights can only be seen on a clear night.

Photo South Iceland Marketing Office

Place of the week - Iceland Airwaves

The music festival Iceland Airwaves will take place in Reykjavík November 4 - 8. It was first held in 1999 and has become one of the premier annual showcases for new music – Icelandic and otherwise – in the world. Some of the world’s most exciting artists have performed there, too. The Shins, The Rapture, TV On The Radio, Florence and the Machine and Fatboy Slim. Including Icelandic bands such as Björk, Sigur Rós, FM Belfast, GusGus, múm, Of Monsters and Men.

Iceland Airwaves is more than just music. Reykjavík is quite possibly the perfect festival city – small enough to be welcoming, sophisticated enough to offer cultural, historical and nightlife diversions to rival cities ten times its size. Maybe twenty.

For further information see their web, icelandairwaves.is. Photo by Alexander Mitkhno of FM Belfast.

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