Top festivals in Iceland
Iceland increasingly attracts a lot of tourists that not only come here for the nature (e.g. glaciers, geothermal baths, black sand beaches, Blue Lagoon or waterfalls) and its natural phenomenon (e.g. Midnight Sun and Northern Lights), or other reasons, travelling on their own by rental car or with organized private tours or scheduled tours – but also for the cultural events and festivals (particularly, Iceland Airwaves and Food & Fun Festival) the country has to offer. Every year there are numerous amazing festivals across the country to choose from showcasing, music, art, films, cuisine and culture in any form. Below you find a list over the top festivals in Iceland.
Food & Fun Festival
A gastronomical festival that has received a world-wide recognition and a competition between Icelandic elite team of chefs and world-renowned chefs in creating a three course menu in collaboration with Reykjavik’s finest Restaurants using Icelandic ingredients exclusively.
The Food & Fun Festival is held annually in the months of February and March. Originally, the festival was created to boost tourism during off-season. Every year world-renowned chefs are invited from USA and Europe to compete for a week.
Copyright Óli Hall
The Iceland Airwaves is a multi-genre music festival which is held annually in October across multitude of venues within Reykjavik including paid on-venues at Gaukurinn & Harpa, and free off-venues at various pubs and cafés around Reykjavik. The festival has gained increasingly more international attentions, thanks to publication such as by the renowned Rollings Stones Magazine. The festival showcases broad flora of unheard artist to established international talents and local rising stars.
Many talented musicians have performed such as Björk, Sigurrós, Gus Gus and Of Monsters and Men, Júníus Meyvant, as well as foreign talents such as John Grant, Eivör Pálsdóttir
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Reykjavik Gay Pride
Iceland is thought to be one of the most queer friendly countries in the world, thanks to the struggles of individuals like Hörður Torfason and Samtökin 79, which fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community. While progress is still being made, Iceland is one of the leading countries in terms of rights of LGBTQ. Same-gender marriage has been legalized and people are protected against discrimination based on gender identification and sexual orientation. Iceland became the first nation to elect a gay leader with Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, former prime minister in 2009, and the former Mayor dressed up in Drag during Gay pride. The culture and rights of the LGBTQ is celebrated annually with a the Guy Pride Festival which is held in the first week of August.
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Feast of Þorri
Is a midwinter festival held in months of January or February, where people come together and celebrate the ‘Feast of Þorri’ with and enjoy a buffet of peculiar Icelandic ‘delicacies’ such as: sheep’s head, dried fish, cured ram testicles, blood pudding and fermented rotten shark. These dishes root back to the old tradition where preservation methods, including drying, salting, smoking, urination and fermentation, where used to keep the meat and fish longer.
Originally, ‘Þorrablót’ was a sacrificial festival which paid tribute to the pagan gods of Thor the Thunder, but was abolished through Christianization. The name Þorri coincides with month of Thorri in the old calendar year beginning during the 13th week of winter.
If you are not lucky enough to be invited to an Icelandic household during Þorri, you can find some of the dishes highlighted in menus of many restaurants during the period.
Typical Buffet served at Þorrablót
Copyright Rudiger Þór Seidenfaden retrieved from Flickr
The famous Sheep Head
Copyright Culture Trip
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Known as ‘Menningarnótt’ in Icelandic, is one of the biggest festival of the year and takes place in mid-August. It is a festival that embraces Icelandic culture in any shape or form with contributions and collaboration of performers including musicians, dancers, artists and actors which can be seen perform across the city, inside bars, cafés and bars or out on the street.
Copyright Benoit Noit
Too get most out of the tour we recommend a private tour or that you book your own rental car, that way you save time and are able to explore more places.