Are you traveling to Iceland this summer and wonder what events are there to enjoy? You’re in for quite a treat! We gathered 15 events and new activities ready for you to enjoy throughout the Icelandic arctic summer all over the country. Get ready for a busy summer, from cultural events to marathons, golf or…
Gleðilega þjóðhátíð!/Happy National Day!
Today is Independence Day in Iceland. So, don’t be surprised when you’ll find festivities all over town! Not even the Icelandic weather can keep people away from enjoying celebrating it in the streets. You can see the parade usually around Tjörnin, downtown Reykjavik. There is even a streetball competition on Hverfisgata. Even more, celebrations are happening in Klambratún Park. You will find acrobats, and food trucks, along with other family-friendly events. In plus, Iðnó comes with a micro-theatre play. Did today open up an appetite for events? Iceland has many more fantastic music and film festivals. Outside of summer, we are recommending a few more for the rest of the year.
January Music Festival in Iceland
Where: Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik
Dark Music Days has been an Icelandic contemporary music festival for 40 years. It showcases innovative and progressive music. The main events occur in Harpa, while other musical projects in Nordic House. The festival encourages new contemporary compositions worldwide; moreover, premiering the latest works in music in Iceland.
March Film Festival in Iceland
Where: Bio Paradis, Reykjavik
In 1978 the first edition of the Reykjavik Film Festival took place. Stockfish Film Festival is simply the continuation of the Reykjavík Film Festival. So this year it got to its eighth edition. The festival focuses on the collaboration between the Icelandic film industry and other film industries worldwide. However, it’s important to note they do not accept submissions.
Thinking to travel to Iceland during wintertime? Let us tell you why we think it’s a great idea. You should give Winter Travel in Iceland a chance, even when you’ve seen it during summer.
April Festivals in Iceland
Where: Ísafjörður, Westfjords
Every Easter, I Never Went South is the home of eccentric music and a good time. Aldrei fór ég Suður is a music festival in Isafjordur, Iceland. The organizers of the event are a father and son. They share the story of how the idea of the festival came to them while enjoying some beers abroad. Most importantly, they wanted to make a community-driven festival. The events are free and the location is unique. Check them out to find out more!
If you love Westfjords as we do (I see you, Lonely Planet!), you might enjoy this interview. We talk with Tyler, a foreign student who lives in the North West peninsula. He decided to invest more of his life in Iceland and told us more about it.
Where: Hotel Nordica Reykjavik
The weekend before Easter is all about the Reykjavik Blues Festival! This year’s edition started with a trumpet band marching down Skólavördustígur Street and followed by stunning cars from the Cruise Club. This year the main events took place in just one venue; including up-and-coming or established blues International artists. For three days, the festival guarantees improvised sets; let’s not forget the after-party bringing even more blues performances.
May Film Festivals in Iceland
Where: Bio Paradis, Reykjavik
One of the youngest film festivals in Iceland, Reykjavik Feminist Film Fest, celebrated its third edition this year. Known for its niche, the festival has specific screenings meant to inspire female and queer artists. For instance, it hosted panels and q&a debating world issues. Likewise, this year it honored female designers with their Silver Screen Runway. In plus, this year, it hosted screenings of Arabic and Brazilian shorts.
June Festivals in Iceland
Where: Hafnarfjörður, Reykjavik
The Country Hjarta festival took place last weekend in Hafnarfjördur. And this year was its first edition. It featured country artists from Iceland and the United States. The town of Hafnarfjördur is a few minutes away from Reykjavik. Have you missed it? Announced leading artists were Klaufar, Sarah Hobbs, and Axel O. & Co.
Skjaldborg – The Festival of Icelandic Documentaries
Where: Patreksfjordur, Westfjords
The Festival of Icelandic Documentaries is in its 15th edition and this year happened at the beginning of this month. Outside of screenings of rare documentaries, the festival brought photo exhibitions; similarly, stand-up comedy shows, and a parade for the public. The closing ceremony ended with a concert from the local group, Celebs. Entry to the screening is free of charge. However, the festival hosts a seafood party and a dance ball. Tickets to those events are around $30.
The Iceland Documentary Film Festival will take place over the summer solstice weekend, from June 22nd to 26th. Like always, it will screen unique international and awarded documentaries. The hosting town, Akranes, is thirty minutes drive from Reykjavik and easy to reach with your favorite campervan. Its fourth edition includes film industry events, workshops, pub quizzes, and even beach parties. Above all, the festival didn’t forget the young audience. They prepared children-friendly programs, as well.
Last year, they promoted the Icelandic Film Museum’s work in collaboration with the Danish Film Institute. The project was focused on digitalizing old films shot in Iceland, dating back from 1906 to the present time. The website shows clips to viewers of different parts of Iceland, and it’s a delight for all the history buffs out there.
Where: Tjarnarbíó, Reykjavik
The Reykjavik Fringe Festival takes place between June 24th and July 3rd. This year they’re celebrating its 5th edition. Opening Night and Award Ceremony are available to the general public and free of charge. Similarly, Preview Night is a pitch show where artists have two minutes to introduce their idea to the public. It’s a great way to have a feel of what you are about to see during the festival. For any other tickets, you can find more info here.
July Music Festivals in Iceland
Where: Neskaupstaður, Eastfjordds
Every second weekend of July, East of Iceland hosts a three-day rock and heavy metal festival. Eistnaflug is a music festival held in Neskaupstadur since 2005. It is the largest festival of its kind in Iceland. After two years of being postponed, this year is coming back from July 7th to the 9th. In over 15 years, it grew a lot. From a simple party of a few Icelandic bands, it’s now a very well-known place for rock performers from all around the world.
If you are looking for another art festival happening in Eastfjords, don’t miss LungA.
Where: Siglufjörður, North of Iceland
Five days of Scandinavian concerts in the remote town of Siglufjordur. How does that sound? The Folk Musik Festival is starting on July 6th. Do you love traditional Icelandic folk songs, jazz quartets, or harp concerts? Then make sure you make it to the North of Iceland next month. Or simply put, for a taste of traditional folk music, get yourself over to Siglufjörður. Enjoy the 21st edition of a true National Folk Festival.
Where: Borgarfjörður, Eastfjords
The colorful mountains and beautiful landscape of Eastfjords are hosting another annual music festival. The festival arrived at its 15th edition. If you are in Borgarfjörður on July 23rd, you will find Bræðslan. It hosts Icelandic artists, like Mugison. And if you think you’ve noticed this name before, you are correct! He is one of the people who also organizes I Never Went South. So to no surprise, this year The Meltdown Music Festival is sold out. You should follow them to get your ticket in time for next year.
August Music Festival in Iceland
Where: Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik
Over thirty years of Reykjavik Jazz Festival, and this edition is not slowing down. There are more than 200 international artists who will perform in forty jazz-related events. Mark down your calendar! Between August 13th and 19th, you are booked for incredible live jazz, blues, or improvised music. Or maybe you are more into Icelandic evergreen? The festival has you covered with the first announced artists. Kristjana Stefáns Trio will perform and the event is free of charge. Outside of the main concert hall, events will take place in Hallgímskirkja Church. Ráðhús Reykjavíkur (Town Hall), and Skuggabaldur Bar are amongst a few other venues. The full program will be announced soon.
September Film Festivals in Iceland
One of the most significant and appreciated Icelandic cultural events happens each year at the end of September. Reykjavik International Film Festival will begin its 18th edition on September 29th. The special screenings are unique to Iceland; from projections in a swimming pool to screenings in a lava cave and many more surprises. In addition, the festival hosts industry events, panels, and workshops. Lastly, regular q&as with actors, directors, or producers of the screened films.
Where: Flateyri, Westfjords
The Iceland Comedy Film Festival comes back on September 23rd and lasts the whole weekend. Founded in 2016, it started out of the need for entertainment in an industry focused on gloomy films. Hosting outdoor screenings, there’s even a unique venue: an old renovated fish oil tank. Moreover, they are currently accepting submissions. The fish village will be at its funniest this year after the pandemic kept it away for two years.
October Film Festival in Iceland
Where: Rif, Snæfellsnes
Influenced by the New Wave genre, the Northern Wave IFF promises to rejuvenate filmmaking as an art form. Founded in 2007, this year’s edition will take place on the weekend of October 28th and 30th. The festival hosts a fish soup competition alongside the international screenings of short films and other industry events. They are currently accepting submissions.
November Music Festival in Iceland
Where: Downtown Reykjavik
If you have ever been to Reykjavik at the beginning of November, you have noticed a music festival in town. When you see concerts in window shops, churches, and any other venue imaginable, you know Iceland Airwaves arrived in town. After a break caused by the pandemic, the festival will take place this year on the weekend of November 3rd. The official lineup has been announced! All you have to do is book your tickets to Iceland! Enjoy a music festival weekend you’ll treasure forever. In plus, there is a way if you want to perform at the festival. You can apply here for the artist showcase hosted by Gigmit. Hurry up before they fill up all the places!
December book festival in Iceland
Where: Icelandic book stores
It’s no surprise that December doesn’t have a music or film festival. Some might argue there is something even better: Jolabokaflod or Christmas Book Flood. Icelanders truly love their books; this tradition has continued every year around Christmas for over 75 years. The name comes from buying books as Christmas gifts for family and friends. Reading starts as soon as Christmas dinner is over. For more information about the book selection, please check the non-for-profit organization Jolabokflod.
And that is it! If you’ve noticed, we didn’t mention anything for the second month of the year. Maybe because February is usually focused on another type of celebration. Bun Day anyone? However, let us know in the comment section below. Have you been to any of these Icelandic music and film festivals? Which one are you looking forward to the most? Would you recommend another one we skipped? Tag us in your pictures or simply use #campeasyiceland.
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