For more than two decades, the leaders of Iceland's political parties have met every New Year's Eve over champagne and spiced herring to talk about the year ahead on Iceland's Channel 2 television.
But this year's show with Prime Minister Geir Haarde was cut short 45 minutes into the program when a torch-wielding crowd stormed Reykjavik's Hotel Borg in an attempt to get to the studio.
Protesters inside and outside the hotel clashed with police, who fired pepper spray to disperse the 500-strong crowd. Some demonstrators threw water balloons, while others tossed firecrackers.
At one point, the broadcaster's television cables caught fire, interrupting the live broadcast. The program cut to commercials, followed by an announcement that Channel 2's equipment had been damaged and the show would be suspended.
Outside the hotel, a policeman hit on the head with a brick had to be hospitalized. Three protesters were arrested.
The disruption was the latest in a series of demonstrations that have rocked Iceland since the country's economy imploded this fall under a mammoth load of bad debt. Unemployment has increased and inflation has soared.
Demonstrations have been largely peaceful — some protesters were reportedly invited in for coffee when they showed up at President Olafur Grimsson's home earlier this month.
But other events have been violent. Icelandic authorities used tear gas for the first time since 1949 when a huge crowd tried to storm a police station in Reykjavik in November, and on Dec. 18, protesters smashed the windows of the country's financial watchdog agency.