Icelandic Festivals - May to November 2017

Magazine Icelandic Festivals - May to November 2017

Icelanders plain and simple just love festivals. Throughout the year there are many festivals and events held all over the country. Whether it be a music, activity or simply camping together. And for some the music and art scene is the biggest draw. Iceland offers anything from one-venue happenings to impressive multi-venue festivals where on show there are along with Icelandic talents often performances by international acts and artists. This is also a lovely way to meet the locals who especially in the smaller towns are very involved with the festival and proud to share the experience with their visitors.

The summer ahead is no different. Here you have a little sneak peek on what Iceland has to offer this year.



Reykjavik Peace Festival

Choirs all over the world will sing for PEACE on the 20th of May. Yoko Ono gave all choirs of the world the John Lennon Song, Love, to sing (

Reykjavik Arts Festival

Established in 1970 Reykjavik Arts Festival, Listahátíð, is Iceland's premier cultural festival showcasing theatre, dance, visual art and music. It is a biannual, multidisciplinary festival with emphasis on Icelandic culture, both past and present. The festival also hosts international acts creating a conversation between national and international artists and goes on from the 21st of May – 5th of June (

Vaka Folk Arts Festival

The annual Vaka Folk Arts Festival, 23rd – 27th of May, in Akureyri, the capital of northern Iceland, ( offers you the chance to enjoy the very best folk musicians, dancers and crafts workers, rooted in the traditional folk arts of Iceland, along with performers from the Nordic and other countries of northern Europe.


The festival of electronic arts and media festival will be taking place from the 25th – 27th of May in various locations in Reykjavik. A platform for artists of various art forms (

Midnight Sun Salsa

The first ever salsa congress held in Iceland, 25th - 28th of May. A three day dance adventure full of salsa, bachata and kizomba, filled with energetic social dancing on two floors (



 Day of the Fishermen (Sjómannadagurinn)

The Icelandic Fishermen are celebrated all over Iceland on the first Sunday of June every year. The day is a celebration of the contribution fishermen have made to Icelandic culture and economy, as well as to honour those who have been lost at sea. This has been done since 1938 and has been a popular event ever since. All ships are docked that day and the celebrations are typically programme very family orientated, very often followed by a dance in the evening. Reykjavik is the biggest fishing harbour in Iceland and there you will find The Festival of the Sea, ( a two day celebration in connection to the Day of the Fishermen. It takes place in the vibrant harbour area which has become one of the hot spots in Reykjavík during the last few years.

National Day of Iceland, 17. júní

Commemorating the foundation of The Republic of Iceland and its independence from Denmark on 17 June, 1944, National Day is one of Iceland’s most popular events of the summer and is celebrated in every town. The festivities include something for everyone and traditionally has a colourful parade, street performances, games for kids and free outdoor music concerts lasting late into the evening. The celebrations wouldn’t be complete without the Fjallkonan, the lady of the mountain, who wears the national costume and recites a poem to the crowd. She is the national personification of Iceland and represents the spirit and nature of Iceland and is a symbol of Iceland’s fight for independence. Never knowing what to expect when it comes to Icelandic weather one can say that it is also traditional to expect rain on this day.  

Secret Solstice Festival

Secret Solstice will be held 16th - 18th of June. Taking place during the summer solstice, (meaning the sun never sets), the festival has firmly established itself on the bucket list for every true festival-geek wanting to be a part of this truly unique experience. The festival takes place in the Laugardalur valley in Reykjavik, and one of the great ways to experience this festival is to camp at the nearby campsite, meaning you never have to leave the party. More information on

Reykjavik Midsummer Music

An award-winning chamber music festival, directed by Víkingur Heidar Olafsson takes place at Harpa 18th – 25th of June. This is an event with exceptional musicians from all over the world.

Lobster Festival

The annual lobster themed festival in Höfn, Hornafirdi is celebrated the weekend 23rd – 25th of June. This is a family orientated event focused on this fresh delicacy.  A brilliant way to meet up with the locals who some even invite visitors into their home for a taste of lobster soup.



The Folk Music Festival of Siglufjordur

A five day music event is held at the Folk Music Center in Siglufjordur, 5th-9th of July. The main focus is on Icelandic and Scandinavian folk music as well as world music and folk dances. During the festival you can choose from concerts, workshops and lectures. The atmosphere is relaxed and family orientated.

LungA Art Festival

LungA is held in Seyðisfjörður, 16th – 23rd  of July, a small town on the east coast of Iceland. The festival consists of a week of art and music workshops that culminate in a “harvest weekend” with concerts, art exhibitions and events.


Bræðslan is known for its intimate, friendly atmosphere and awesome music. It’s held in an old herring plant on the 29th of July. The festival is held in Borgarfjörður eystri on the East Coast of Iceland, a small village with around 130 inhabitants, surrounded by colourful mountains and beautiful landscape.  In this small village you can encounter world famous bands, meet hospitable locals and have the time of your life (



Commerce Day, Frídagur verslunarmanna,

This is a public holiday and is celebrated on the first Monday of August. The three day long bank holiday is celebrated all over Iceland with massive outdoor festivals and concerts. This is usually the biggest weekend for domestic travel for Icelanders. Here are a few examples of what is happening during this weekend.

Westman Islands Camping festival (Þjóðhátíð)

Locals and guests gather in Herjólfsdalur valley on the island of Heimaey for four days of various events, most prominently big stage concerts, bonfires, fireworks displays and the festival's signature Sunday night crowd singing. The crowd singing is the single event of the weekend which draws the most attendees (

The Flying Sparks festival, Neistaflug

This family fun festival in Neskaupstaður has a wide array of events that actually start on the Thursday, and provide lots of fun for people of all ages and for every member of the family (


If you are a city rat but love music, Innipúkinn might be the choice for you. Innipúkinn is a small annual music festival, held in downtown Reykjavík over Iceland’s bank holiday weekend 30th of July-August 1st where the norm is to head off to the countryside (

Swamp Soccer – Mýrarbolti

The European championship in Swamp Soccer is held annually in the wondrous surroundings of Isafjordur. Play some seriously dirty football in the day and numerous live music act at night.

After this big festival weekend there is still plenty more to come in August. 

Reykjavik Jazz

A jazz festival to be held 9th – 13th of August. This festival is all about connecting with the international music scene. You have everything from contemporary jazz and the avant-garde to Latin jazz, gospel and the big bands (

Reykjavík Pride

The Reykjavik Gay Pride has become a festival where the whole nation comes together to celebrate the fact that in Iceland you can enjoy the freedom of being as you are. The six day festival, held 8th – 13th of August, is filled with exiting events which lead up to the main event “The Parade of Joy” or gleðiganga which says it all.   Reykjavik Pride has been celebrated annually since 1999 it has gone from about 1500 onlookers to multiple day event with over 100 thousand guests from all over the world ( 

Reykjavik Culture Night

Reykjavik Culture Night will be held for the 22nd time on August 19th. Reykjavík. The day starts off with the Reykjavik Marathon followed by events and performances, large and small that fill the streets and squares of the town centre, alleys, gardens, galleries, shops, cultural institutes and private homes. The day ends with a party, topped off with a massive firework display (



The Reykjavik International Literary Festival

The Reykjavik International Literary Festival is held 6th – 9th of September is not an ordinary book festival. It is known for a very relaxed ambiance for both authors and readers. The informal, relaxed atmosphere is a major factor in its popularity amongst authors and readers. The purpose of the festival has been to introduce foreign authors and new trends in literature to Icelandic readers. (

Tango on Ice

Tango on Ice is a small, cosy and friendly festival held in Reykjavik 21-24th of September. The venue is an old and beautiful theatre, Iðnó, located in the city centre.

Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF)
RIFF takes place every year in late September for eleven days, 28th of September until 8th of October. The festival highlights independent film making from all over the world with an emphasis on up-and-coming filmmakers. The winner of RIFF’s competition is awarded the Golden Puffin at the end of the festival (



Iceland Airwaves

Iceland Airwaves is a huge festival with venues ranging from intimate to football stadiums, and more than 200 artists playing over the course of five day. The best the Icelandic music scene has to offer along with big international names. The festival usually sells out, but not to worry the off-venue schedule should be enough to keep you busy all week. (


As you can see there is a lot to choose from and this is just the tip of the iceberg.


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