Fireworks evoke memories of our childhood. Who doesn’t remember watching those flickering lights burst in the pitch black summer sky with family and friends? I bet that most of us have seen a fireworks show at least once in our lives. But, have you seen any fireworks on a glacier lake, with glacial masses and chunks of floating icebergs being illuminated by the colors lighting up the sky? That’s likely not possible for most people around the world. Well, the good news is that if you come to Iceland in August, you might be able to enjoy this unique experience of watching fireworks at Jökulsárlón glacier lake.

Jökulsárlón glacier lake fireworks in the summer in Iceland


Iceland’s Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake

Jökulsárlón is the largest and most visited glacier lake in Iceland. It’s located in the southeast region of the island, at the southern end of Vatnajökull glacier. Most people don’t know that the lake is somewhat new in geological terms. Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon formed about 80 years ago as a result of the retreat of the melting glaciers in the surrounding area. Nowadays, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions of this Nordic island.

The lake is not just stagnant water; it’s actually alive and constantly changing. Water flow increases and decreases, there are currents, and the water frequently changes its color. It’s currently the deepest lake in Iceland. Right now its current characteristic look is of bluish-gray water with multiple white dots. Those dots are small and not-so-small chunks of ice drifting away and making their way to the ocean. Now imagine this stunning natural scenery with fireworks overhead at Jökulsárlón lake. Amazing right? But how did these two events come to be combined?

The History of Fireworks

Certain things just happen without planning them. The glacier lake formed by accident 80 years ago. The same thing happened with fireworks, but a thousand years ago. An old legend tells the story of a Chinese chef who accidentally mixed three ingredients: saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. When he unintentionally dropped the mixture into the fire, colored flames came bursting out! The funny thing is, those ingredients were sometimes used as seasoning in cooking! After this amazing discovery, further experiments took place and gave birth to what we now know as firecrackers.

The Chinese used bamboo filled the three magical ingredients. With the right mix, when you set them on fire they go boom! Colors shoot everywhere. Initially, the main reason for setting off fireworks was to scare away demons and evil spirits.

Iceland's summer Jökulsárlón glacier lake fireworks display

This popular tradition then became useful for military purposes. It seems that the first fireworks as we know them today, were missiles. Have you ever heard about Marco Polo? Well, he was the first Westerner to spill the beans about this new Chinese invention. Fireworks then made their way to Europe. Currently, fireworks and firecrackers are widely used all over the world by children and adults alike. Nowadays this centuries-old technology is combined with modern technology such as lasers, live music, and light shows. We use fireworks at many outdoor events, national holidays, celebrations, and of course, New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks at Jökulsárlón – A Striking Summertime Show 

We all love fireworks. I don’t really know the exact reason why. Maybe it’s the anticipation of finding out which color it will be or what shape it will take as it bursts and then cascades to the ground. The spectacle creates a sense of excitement to see the varied colors lighting up the dark skies. If we mix the beauty of the fireworks with the splendor of this natural landmark in Iceland, one can understand why almost 2,500 visitors enjoyed this event last year. And the numbers keep growing!

There isn’t really a historical reason for this event. It’s made possible due to the collaboration between the Hornafjordur Search and Rescue Association, Jökulsárlón Boat Trips and Visit Vatnajökull. It’s used as a fundraiser event to support the Search and Rescue Team. All proceeds from the entrance fee to the event go to them. So besides experiencing the magic of the fireworks at a unique location, it also helps a good cause.

Tourists watching Jökulsárlón glacier lake fireworks display in Iceland in summer


Fireworks at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake – 2019 Dates and Ticket Information

The fireworks at Jökulsárlón glacier lake take place every August in Iceland and are one of the top things to do in the summer. This year, you’ll be able to enjoy them on Saturday, August 17th, 2019. Will you be there? The show starts at 11 pm and it costs 1500 ISK (around 10€ or $12) to get in. Children 12 years old and younger can see the show for free as they don’t have to pay the entrance fee. To buy tickets to the fireworks show, you can head to the following locations:

  • Olís in Höfn
  • N1 in Höfn
  • Gamla búð – Höfn Harbour
  • Hotel Smyrlabjörg
  • The ticket sales office at Jökulsárlón
  • Freysnes kiosk
  • Hotel Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Tickets are also available at Jökulsárlón lake on the night of the big event. Remember to carry along cash! That is the preferred option for payment. Bring some warm clothes with you, grab a warm cup of coffee, and wait for the magic to ignite the night!

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