Best time to visit Iceland

Illuminated Gravestones in Iceland

You won't see much difference between the day and night, as it will be freezing all the time. But there is a light at the end of a tunnel, oops, sorry, of a cemetry

Best time: late December & New Year's Day

Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated Gravestones
Illuminated gravestones in Mosfellsbær, Western Iceland
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For some people, it might seem odd to go to Iceland when it is as dark and gloomy as it gets, but wait until you see the mysterious tradition to light up the gravestones at cemeteries​ around the country, among many others—Lágafellskirkja church in Mosfellsbær, about 20 mins east of Reykjavik. The custom is a symbolic one when the days are the shortest in the year. You will see this during Christmas time and New Year, which is another reason to visit Iceland now!

The cemeteries in Iceland look stunning in the darkness, with candles and lights sparkling among snowy slopes. Check out the Hólavallagarður churchyard that dates back to 1832. The church is located at Suðurgata in western Reykjavik, not far from Tjörnin Lake.

Decorating gravestones with lights and paying respect to those who passed away is an important part of the Yuletide season in Iceland. During a few weeks in December, particularly on December 24 and New Year's Day, families get together at cemeteries near the graves of their loved ones and light up candles or more modern electric Christmas lights. These lights symbolize that the dead ones are remembered and missed. This custom shows how important is the role of the family in the culture of Iceland.

Practical info

What is the best time to visit Iceland for illuminated gravestones?

Late December and New Year's Day is the perfect time to visit Iceland to see illuminated gravestones. During this time, the longest nights of the year create the ideal atmosphere for lighting candles and illuminating gravestones. It is a unique and magical experience to witness. Show more

Where can illuminated graves be seen in Reykjavik?

Lágafellskirkja church in Mosfellsbær and Hólavallagarður churchyard are two popular places to view illuminated graves in Reykjavik. Hólavallagarður, located near Tjörnin Lake, is one of Iceland's oldest and historic cemeteries where people can get a sense of the country's rich history. These cemeteries emit a sense of peace and tranquillity during the Christmas and New Year season. Show more

What is the reason behind illuminating gravestones during the Yuletide season in Iceland?

Illuminating gravestones during the Christmas and New Year season in Iceland is a way of honouring and remembering deceased loved ones. The tradition demonstrates the strength of family and community ties in Icelandic culture. It is a unique show of respect to the departed ones whose memory lives on through such traditions. It is an integral part of the country's culture during the Yuletide season. Show more

What is the history behind Hólavallagarður?

Hólavallagarður, established in 1832, is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Iceland. Notable Icelandic figures, including artists, poets, and politicians, have found their final resting place in this cemetery. Initially, it was situated outside the Reykjavik city center, but it has since become a part of it. During Christmas and New Year’s Day, Hólavallagarður provides a unique and peaceful experience, especially when the gravestones are illuminated. Show more

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