All About Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavik

  • by Yanshu
  • Reykjavik
  • 12 Sep 2023

Discover Harpa, a renowned Reykjavík landmark, Iceland’s largest concert and conference venue. Hosting a diverse array of events like concerts, conferences, and plays, Harpa spans 28,000 square meters by Reykjavík harbor. Its luminous glass façade captivates, particularly in Iceland’s extended winter nights.

All About Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavik

The Landmark at Reykjavik Harbor

A landmark in Reykjavik, Harpa is a famous building known for its unique design inspired by nature. It’s made using innovative materials and created through collaboration between top experts. This landmark isn’t just a regular building—it’s a stunning piece of art that combines beauty and function seamlessly.

Architect Ólafur Elíasson

The design of Harpa features a close collaboration between Henning Larsen Architects and the Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson. 

His involvement added a unique artistic dimension to the façade‘s development, resulting in the creation of thousands of glass panels that mimic the play of light you would experience throughout the Icelandic day.

Influence of Icelandic Nature

Iceland’s basalt landscape heavily influenced the remarkable architecture of Harpa. The geometric facade, resembling the hexagonal basalt columns commonly found in Icelandic nature, stunningly captures and interacts with the ever-changing natural light, mirroring the dynamism of Iceland’s scenery.

Harpa’s Glass Façade

Harpa’s innovative glass façade is a key architectural feature, comprising a steel framework clad with geometric shaped glass panels. This construction is not only aesthetically striking, reflecting the surrounding sea and skyline, but also functionally deliberate, enhancing the building’s thermal performance and leveraging natural light to reduce energy consumption.

What To See and To Do in Harpa

Your experience at Harpa Reykjavík is not merely an attendance to a performance but an immersion in Icelandic culture and a testament to the country’s dedication to the arts. As a landmark, Harpa stands as both a symbol of national pride and a beacon of cultural life.

Home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

Harpa Concert Hall is the proud residence of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, which is renowned for its rich repertoire and contribution to classical music. You will find that attending a concert here not only displays the orchestra’s talent, but also reveals the acoustical ingenuity of the concert hall itself. Each performance is an encounter with Iceland’s fervent commitment to the arts.

Host to Prestigious Performances

Throughout the year, Harpa hosts an array of prestigious performances, spanning from Icelandic operas to captivating international acts. The presence of renowned artists reaffirms Harpa’s status as a cultural epicenter. Among its recurring shows, such as the immensely popular ‘How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes,’ visitors are treated to a delightful journey into Icelandic culture through humor and storytelling, providing a charming opportunity to immerse oneself in the essence of Iceland.

The sublime architecture coupled with the electrifying atmosphere during concerts elevates every visitor’s experience, affirming Harpa’s position as a centerpiece of Iceland’s cultural landscape.

When lights are on, Harpa looks stunning in the night. [Photo credit to Yanshu Li]

Dining and Drink

Hnoss, Harpa Concert Hall’s newest dining destination, helmed by former Skál! head chef Fanney Dóra, proudly holds a Bib Gourmand Michelin guide award. Welcoming all Harpa visitors, it serves beverages, snacks, and an à la carte menu complemented by a curated wine selection. Prioritizing local produce, the menu showcases vegetable-focused dishes alongside top-quality Icelandic seafood and meats. Its terrace, connecting to the Old Harbor and downtown, offers an ideal setting for a brief pause.

Gift Shop for Icelandic Souvenir

There is this delightful souvenir shop housed within Harpa Concert Hall named Epal, which invites visitors to explore an array of Icelandic treasures. From intricately carved wooden figurines to locally sourced artisanal treats, their curated selection celebrates the rich culture and heritage of Iceland.

Photograph Harpa

As a photographer, I must say that Harpa is one of the most versatile subjects to capture in Reykjavik, offering endless possibilities for stunning shots. Capturing the essence of Harpa through photography is a rewarding endeavor, and here are some tips to enhance your experience. 

First, take advantage of the stunning natural light that floods through the glass façade, particularly during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to highlight the unique architectural features and intricate details of the building. 

Then, consider visiting at night when Harpa is illuminated, creating a magical ambiance against the dark sky. Don’t forget to explore the surrounding area, including the harbor and downtown, which offer additional photographic opportunities. 

Whether you’re an amateur enthusiast or a seasoned photographer, Harpa provides a captivating backdrop for your creative vision.

History of Harpa

Harpa, a breathtaking architectural marvel in Reykjavik, glows with ethereal beauty under the evening lights. For those unfamiliar with its history, Harpa symbolizes the resilience of the Icelandic people.

Emerging amidst Iceland’s turbulent economic landscape, notably during the 2008 financial crisis, this building embodies a narrative of remarkable perseverance. As you delve into Harpa’s creation, you’ll uncover a story of unwavering determination that persisted even as the nation weathered a severe financial crisis.

When Did Harpa Open to Public

Harpa opened its doors to the public in 2011, a beacon of hope during Iceland’s recovery from the 2008 recession that staggered economies worldwide. As a singular construction venture soldiering on through the financial crisis, Harpa was immediately embraced by locals and visitors, marking a pivotal turn in Iceland’s resurgence.

How Harpa was Received

Since its inception, Harpa has not only filled the role of a cultural and social hub but has also garnered international acclaim. Numerous honors have been claimed by Harpa, particularly for its innovative architecture, including the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award in 2013, signaling its outstanding contribution to contemporary architecture and symbolizing the revival of Iceland’s economy through its existence.

Frequently Asked Questions About Harpa

Before planning your visit or attending an event at Harpa Concert Hall, it’s helpful to know about the type of events you can experience, ticketing information, and the attire suitable for the occasion.

What types of events are scheduled at Harpa Concert Hall?

Harpa Concert Hall hosts a diverse range of cultural events including opera, symphony concerts, and pop music performances, as well as conferences and expos. To get a sense of upcoming events, please visit the official Harpa event calendar.

How can I purchase tickets for an event at Harpa Reykjavik?

Tickets to performances and events at Harpa can be bought online through Harpa’s official website, at the ticket office, or via authorized ticket sellers. For convenience and to ensure authenticity, purchasing through the Harpa website is recommended.

Are there any specific guidelines for attire when attending an event at Harpa?

Attire for events at Harpa tends to range from casual to formal, depending on the nature of the event. It’s best to consult the event details for any dress code guidelines, but in general, smart casual is a safe choice for most concerts and performances.

About the author
Yanshu
Yanshu
A journalist and photographer, Yanshu is driven by a deep passion for Iceland. She's on a mission to share her love for authentic travel experiences and exciting adventures with fellow explorers. Armed with her camera, she sets off on hikes, delving into Iceland's intricacies while mastering the art of Icelandic language whenever possible.

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