Tea at home, Christmas and meeting Gully Gawk
That is one of the themes of the new Icelandic advertising campaign which began last month. The President invited visitors into his palace for tea! It was launched to emphasise the friendliness of the nation as they build upon the successful tourism of the past year.
The campaign, called “inspired by Iceland,” encourages you to see the country by visiting the people. A bit like home stays but on a larger scale. and with National Geographic Traveller Magazine listing it as the top destination of 2012, Iceland could have a bumper visitor year.
Iceland is also strongly promoting the Northern Lights since some experts argue that next year will be the best one in decades to see the lights. And Iceland claims that you can see them from any part of the country unlike other countries where you might have to travel large distances even when you get there. Special photography courses are being offered as- and I know this from experience – photographing he lights requires more than just pointing and snapping.
It is the landscape that attracts many to the country. The combination of stark, if not bleak, landscapes constructed by countless volcanic eruptions, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls and hot geothermal springs makes it a country quite unlike most.
But Iceland is also a seafaring nation and an ideal place to whale watch. The Festival of the Sea in early June is a special day to Icelanders, reminding them of their heritage and the importance the sea has made to the country.
The capital, Reykjavik, named 1135 years ago this year by a Viking settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, has also announced a new promotion to attract us to the city this year. They are going to emphasise more on the cultural and sporting aspects of the area as well as developing a clearer Christmas offering for visitors. But then Iceland already offers a different run-up to Christmas. The 12th of December sees a day and then thirteen days after it of children’s fun. Called The Yuletide Lads traditionally named as Gully Gawk, Window Peeper, Bowl Licker, Pot Scraper and Door Slammer amongst others descend from the mountains on December 12 each year to make mischief! For 13 days a different elf visits each night. The tradition is that visitors should remember to leave a shoe in the window overnight and that one of lads will leave a gift!
But, you might say, a winter visit would be cold. Surprisingly not. The Gulf Stream gives an average winter temperature of just zero so its milder than you might imagine. Ideal then to see the Northern Lights and give the children some fun.
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images courtsey of Iceland Naturally