Iceland in December - Hotel Rangá


Green northern lights in the sky over Hotel Rangá's Observatory.

What to do Iceland in December

Christmas is in the air at Hotel Rangá! We are feeling festive and it shows – the holiday decorations are up, and our chefs are busy preparing traditional delicacies for our annual Christmas buffet.

December in Iceland is filled with beautiful sunsets, northern lights and Christmas celebrations.

The Northern Lights at Hotel Rangá.
At Hotel Rangá in November. Picture by @omnetlesvoiles.


The days are getting shorter as we approach the Winter Solstice on December 22nd, but that just means more chances to see the Northern Lights. Though winter weather is unpredictable, we are crossing our fingers for a white Christmas and hoping for clear skies on New Year’s Eve – Iceland’s biggest bash of the year.


  • Average high temperatures approx. 4°C (39°F).
  • Average low temperatures approx. -2°C (28°F).
  • You can expect rain and snow.


  • December 1st: Approx. 5 hours of daylight.
  • December 30th: Approx. 4.5 hours of daylight.

Explore Magical Ice Caves

Ice caves are beautiful natural formations that grow and change according to seasonal weather conditions.


Two people glacier climbing in Iceland
Glacier activities are popular in Iceland. Picture by Arcanum.

December is the perfect month to take a tour inside one of these incredible structures and marvel at the unique colors and textures of the ice. Specialized gear is always provided to ensure your safety, and an expert guide will lead the way. View glacier tours. 


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Who are the Yuletide Lads?

The Yuletide Lads, or Icelandic Santa Clauses, are a mischievous lot, born to a troll mother who eats ill-behaved children. In the thirteen days before Christmas, they come down from the mountains and bring presents to children who leave a shoe in their windowsill. From the 11th to the 24th of December we encourage our younger guests at Hotel Rangá to leave a shoe outside their door at night and see if a Yuletide lad will pay them a visit.


Drawing by Brian Pilkington of the Icelandic Yule Lads.
Drawing of the Icelandic Yuletide Lads by Brian Pilkington.


If you want to learn more about the Yuletide lads, you can take a guided tour of nearby caves in the town of Hella. A local storyteller will share stories about Icelandic folklore as you explore the caves where Yuletide lads are said to live.

The tour is in English and is available on December 21, December 26, December 30, and January 2.


Christmas at Hotel Rangá

The weeks before Christmas are all about celebration, and nothing better encapsulates the season than the decadent tradition of jólahlaðborð or Christmas Buffet.


With over 80 courses, Hotel Rangá´s Christmas buffets are a sight to behold. Guests can sample delicious holiday treats from smoked and cured meats to caramel glazed potatoes and incredible homemade cakes.


Hotel Rangá Christmas Buffet.
Hotel Rangá Christmas Buffet.


The Christmas buffet is served on the following weekends:

  • 29th-30th of November 2019,
  • 6th-7th of December 2019,
  • 13th-14th of December 2019.



Christmas Shopping – Icelandic Souvenir

Want to do some Christmas shopping while you are in Iceland? Why not visit Una Local Product, a unique family-owned gift shop in the nearby town of Hvolsvöllur. Or if you´re looking for a traditional Icelandic lopapeysa, try Litla Lopasjoppan in the town of Hella. This local wool market sells hand-knitted Icelandic sweaters, scarves, mittens, and more.


Ása Steinarsdóttir photographer in the African Suite at Hotel Rangá
Photographer Ása Steinarsdóttir wearing a traditional Icelandic lopapeysa in our Africa Suite at Hotel Rangá.

A New Year is Around the Corner

New Year’s Eve in Iceland is the biggest party of the year. The ban on fireworks is lifted for a week so you can expect a lot of explosions. We can, however, guarantee complete silence from 22:30 – 23:30 as the entire nation watches Áramótaskaupið – a comic sketch show satirizing the previous year´s most newsworthy moments. Afterward, the real show starts as the night sky goes technicolor with a fantastic display of fireworks in our nearby villages.

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