Festivals are the perfect place for people to gather and create fun memories together. Even though Iceland is a very small country it still has many festivals and fun gatherings all around the country.
Is Iceland a festival place? Maybe not as much as Brazil or India, but people here are quite good at partying and never miss out on having fun.
Many of the festivals below have a special place in people’s hearts and have helped create communities, friend groups, and even families. Out of the many different unique festivals, I think these below are the most memorable.
Middle of March
Sónar Reykjavik is a music festival held in the beautiful Harpa concert hall. Sónar is an international music festival celebrated in Barcelona, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and of course Reykjavik. At Sónar Reykjavik you are introduced to Icelandic culture through music and the festival is about showcasing artists outside the mainstream.
Beginning of April
For those who like skiing/snowboarding, this is the perfect Icelandic festival. AK Extreme is a four-day snowboarding festival in Akureyri city in Eyjafjörður fjord.
There are many events scheduled in Hlíðarfjall mountain and in the city itself. The main event of this festival is a competition for snowboard jumps in the city center. Well-known Icelandic musicians usually perform at venues during the evening and night, and people can party after a long day in the mountains.
June 21st, on the summer solstice
Secret Solstice is an outdoor music festival held in Laugardalur valley. The festival celebrates music and culture on the longest days of the year.
A fun fact about Iceland is that in summer the sun never sets, so the partying never stops. Even though the festival is mainly celebrated in Laugardalur it has also been celebrated in other unique locations. They have had the Icelandic music festival in a glacier cave and a 5000-year-old lava tunnel among other beautiful locations.
The festival showcases many amazing Icelandic artists, but many well-known international artists have also performed such as Wu-Tang Clan, FKA twigs, Cypress Hill, Martin Garrix, and Black Eyed Peas among many others you might recognize.
Middle of July
If you’re planning on driving around Iceland in July I highly recommend visiting Seyðirfjörður fjord for LungA art and music festival. This festival is a combination of arts, creativity, music, expression, and magnificent nature.
LungA was first celebrated in the year 2000 and in 2013 LungA art school was founded because of the festival. The main event of the festival is the musical performances, but people can also participate in workshops taught by artists.
End of July
Þjóðhátíð is probably one of the oldest festivals in all of Iceland, and it isn’t celebrated on the mainland. Þjóðhátíð is a festival in the Westman Islands originally celebrated in honor of Iceland’s 1000th birthday in 1874.
Over 10.000 Icelanders gather together in Herjólfsdalur valley every year to enjoy the festival and Brekkusöngur the peak of the celebration. Brekkusöngur is the Icelandic word for “hill song” and it’s where everyone sings together on the hill in the valley. The festival is an amazing bonding experience for families and a great place to party.
Photo by Ruth Zohlen
Beginning of August
Gay pride is one of the most popular events in Iceland every year. Reykjavik pride was first celebrated in 1999 and has since then been celebrated every year with style. The main event of the festival is the pride parade which is called “Gleðigangan” or “The Happiness Walk”. There’s very little protesting for this festival so thankfully people can enjoy it in peace.
Every first Saturday after August 18th
“Menningarnótt” or “Cultural Night” is one of Iceland’s biggest events and over 100.000 people celebrate it every year. 100.000 people might not sound like a lot to some but that’s a whopping 27% of the whole population. This Iceland music festival was founded by the Reykjavik city council and is free for everyone.
The festival is celebrated in downtown Reykjavik city and has multiple events all around downtown. There are concerts, DJs, children’s entertainment, art performances, and so many other things. It ends with epic fireworks late in the evening when it gets dark.
Photo by Raggi Th.
Beginning of October
Reykjavik International Film Festival a.k.a. RIFF is a 10-day film festival that has been held since the fall of 2004. The festival includes film watching, panels, workshops, concerts, exhibitions, and conversations with directors about their works. The purpose of the festival is to support innovation in filmmaking.
Beginning of November
Iceland Airwaves, held in Reykjavik city, is a multi-genre music festival celebrated in venues all around the city. The event has hundreds of artists, both well-known and new, it has local and international talent. Iceland Airwaves is one of the most popular festivals in Iceland and has been held yearly since 1999.
Generally in Iceland concerts are rather rarely held by foreign artists and tend to be pricey. That could be one of the reasons why festivals here are so popular.