Winter in Iceland.
Brrrrr, so you may think that our winters are long and dark, but in fact they can be very beautiful and intriguing. There is lots to see and do and many places to visit and Icelanders definitely tend to make the most of these winter months.
We have the chance to see the Northern lights and even we get excited about them. As Christmas approaches Icelanders tend to go a little bit mad and use a lot of their renewable energy lighting up every nook and cranny around their homes and businesses. The cities and villagers become alight and I am sure they almost can be seeing glowing from space. Iceland can be such a pretty place to visit in the winter, ice forms on the waterfalls and we don´t usually get completely buried in snow or freeze. The temperature during the winter months can be chilly with January being the coldest month with an average temperature of -3°C to 2°C (28°F-35°F), so it´s not really that cold although it can be a bit unpredictable whatever the season and no it´s not dark all day it does get light for several hours. Even during January it is light for 4-5 hours a day and then we often have snow which makes it brighter anyway, a winter wonderland.
The Northern lights or the Aurora borealis. They are named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. Here in Iceland they are visible from September until March, although this year there were some phenomenal ones seen towards late August. If there are no clouds in the sky or very few and is cold and dry then you have a pretty good chance of seeing the northern lights here in Iceland, they can be seen in Reykjavík, but because of light pollution it’s a good idea to leave the city to get the best views.
These beautiful lights are caused by gas particles in the Earth´s atmosphere colliding with charged particles from the Sun´s and the different colours are formed by different gasses. The most common colour seen here in Iceland is the pale green colour caused by oxygen molecules that are about 60 miles above the Earth, if the oxygen molecules are higher, at about 200 miles then the rare red colour can be seen. Another gas, nitrogen produces purple or blue lights. But as mentioned before the greenish ones are the most common here and they can be pretty amazing. They appear in many forms sometimes swirling, forming arcs or providing strange glowing areas of sky above you. It can be quite mesmerising and Iceland is one of the best places to see them.
The Imagine Peace Tower. As you are searching the skies over Reykjavík for the northern lights you might come across a beam of light reaching into the night sky. This would be the Imagine Peace Tower, a wonderful piece of art created by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband the late John Lennon. It was unveiled by Yoko Ono on October 9th 2007 on what would have been his 67th birthday and symbolizes the couple´s campaign for world peace. The beam of light is lit from October 9th, John Lennon´s birthday until December 8th, the anniversary of his death. There are though several other dates when it is lit for example, winter solstice, New Year´s day, during the first week of spring and on Yoko Ono´s birthday to name a few. It is situated on a small island called Viðey just by the capital Reykjavík and is quite beautiful. It only takes about a 20 minute boat ride to reach the island.
The artwork itself resembles a well and is made of 15 searchlights and the wall surrounding the lights have the word “Imagine Peace” written in 24 different languages. Below the well there are a million pieces of paper with people´s wishes written on them, carefully kept.
It may seem strange for this memorial to be here on a small island in Iceland, but Iceland was chosen by Yoko Ono as it is one of the most peaceful countries in the world, we don´ t even have an army. Our energy is also mainly green energy, 85% coming from renewable energy. Approximately 65% from Geothermal energy, 20% from hydropower and now here in Iceland we are beginning to use wind energy, so things will only improve. So if you are spending time here in Iceland this winter take time to look for the beam of light reaching high into the sky or better still visit the island.