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A Traveler's Guide to Reykjavik's Summer Festivals

A Traveler's Guide to Reykjavik's Summer Festivals
© Helgi Halldorsson / Flickr
Although Iceland keeps busy all year round with a variety of festivals, the summer festivals have a special atmosphere because of the never-ending daylight that makes it impossible to not stay up all night. Many places in Iceland are more easily accessible during the summertime, so there are many more festivals in the countryside dotting the island’s coasts.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik Arts Festival takes place from June 1st to June 17th, 2018. This multidisciplinary art festival has seen the likes of Led Zeppelin, Nick Cave, and Bill Murray play in venues around the city alongside local artists. The festival transforms the whole city into a venue with many public works and interactive pieces.

Human Hanger – Reykjavik Art Festival © Matito / Flickr

Secret Solstice Festival takes place from June 21st to June 24th, 2018. Located in an arena just outside of Reykjavik, the music festival features artists across many genres. This year will feature such artists as Slayer (US), Gucci Mane (US), Bonnie Tyler (UK), Kollektive Turmstrasse (DE), Agent Fresco (IS), Alvia (IS) and Aron Can (IS).

Innipúkinn will run for its 16th edition in 2018. The name translates to ‘inside devil’ and refers to the people from Reykjavik who choose to stay in town rather than travel to the National Festival in the Westman Islands that takes place the same weekend. It takes place between Iceland’s labor day weekend and bank holiday weekend. A cozy festival, it has seen the likes of Icelandic artists such as Alvia Islandia, Milkywhale, FM Belfast, Kiriyama Family and aYia.

Reykjavik Culture Night is an annual festival that will take place on August 18th in 2018. In a celebration of culture all over the city, museums and galleries are open until midnight with special events. It is an especially child-friendly festival that ends in fireworks.

Reykjavik Midsummer Music is an award-winning chamber music festival founded in 2012 by Icelandic musicians. It takes place at Harpa Concert Hall around the summer solstice every year. The aim is to have the best musicians in the world gather under the midnight sun in Reykjavik. Each year explores a different theme. Artists that have played include Julian Quentin, Lars Anders Tomter, Maxim Rysanov and the Siggi String Quartet.

Concert Hall Harpa ©David Phan- Flickr

Kopavogur

Icelandic Chamber Music Festival takes place in a municipality outside of Reykjavik during the first week of August. It was initiated in 2008 by young Icelandic music students who wanted more music courses available during the summertime. The festival offers music courses for people of all ages as well as a concert series.

Neskaupstadur

Eistnaflug is the metal festival of all metal festivals in Iceland. It takes place in a village outside of the eastern capital of Egilstadir next to a fjord where guests fill the grassy areas with their tents for this mid-July festival. Featured bands include Nexion (IS), HAM (IS), Watain (SE), Alchemia (IS) and Agent Fresco (IS).

Seyðisfjörður

LungA takes place in Iceland’s alternative art capital in a small village in the east in late July. This week-long workshop-based internal art festival is for young people primarily and uses the venues of the many art institutions in the village such as Skaftafell Center for Art, a residency program, and museum for visual artists.

Hafnarfjörður

Viking Festival takes place each year around the National Holiday on June 17th in a village just outside of Reykjavik. This week-long festival is for anyone enthusiastic about settlement-era Iceland with workshops on how to make Viking clothing, food, archery, jousting. Each night there is a feast, of course, in the Viking Village restaurant. This could satisfy your Game of Thrones reenactment urges, as well.

Ísafjörður

Mýrarbolti can be translated to ‘swamp ball’ and is just that – playing soccer in a muddy field. Located in the picturesque village in the West Fjords, this festival takes place in early August. Although the events all circle around one big competition, there is plenty of activity for anyone who wants to play dirty.