Top 10 Summer Festivals In Iceland
Are you coming to Iceland this summer and want to have a true Icelandic experience? Then this guide is for you!
Icelandic summers are graced with mild, warm weather and endless, sunny days. It's no wonder that there are so many summer festivals in Iceland, both in Reykjavik and in other cities around the country!
Icelandic people love their festivals. Even the least popular ones gather thousands of people every year. That is because not only are the festivals fun and a great way to spend time with friends and family, but they also allow them to take advantage of the beautiful weather!
From music festivals to culture and community festivals, there is something for everyone! In this list, I will show you the top ten festivals in Iceland that you can catch from June to August!
Before we take a look at all the best summer festivals in Iceland, let's see first what you can find in this blog:
- what are the best summer festivals in Iceland?
- where do the best summer festivals in Iceland take place?
- what kind of festivals take place in Iceland in the summer?
- tips from a local!
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summer festivals in iceland
Iceland has many interesting festivals throughout the entire year. Music seems to be the dominant type here, with music festivals accounting for the majority of all festivals in Iceland.
However, while there are many music summer festivals in Iceland, there are also plenty of others. Summer is the time when Icelanders come together to celebrate their ancestors, their roots, and their culture; sometimes even their food!
So, if you are not a big music fan, then you can still find a festival that is more up your alley! However, if you are a music fan, then you will have quite a few to choose from! Keep reading to find out what the top ten summer festivals in Iceland are and where you can find them!
top 10 summer festivals in iceland
So, what are the best summer festivals in Iceland? Where can you find them and how can you get there? Let's find out!
FESTIVALS IN JUNE
June is a great month to attend some festivals while on your trip! In fact, one of the most popular Icelandic festivals takes place in June (more on that later)!
1. vaka folk festival
From May 30th to June 2nd, Akureyri (the capital of the north) is drenched in tradition! Standing in the middle of the impressive mountains of Eyjafjörður, Akureyri is a charming little town that I believe everyone should visit! And what better reason than to attend an amazing festival on tradition, song and dance?
For four days and nights, expect to be surrounded by non-stop singing and dancing under a magical midnight sun. Vaka Folk is all about tradition, not only celebrating it, but also keeping it alive through art.
Vaka Folk showcases the best artists in traditional song and dance, as well as handcrafts. Everyone works with traditional instruments and materials, and they will transport you to a whole different era!
With workshops and social dancing for all ages and abilities, there is something for everyone! So, Vaka Folk is perfect if you are traveling with family, especially if you have little kids!
2. secret solstice
Secret Solstice is the most popular music festival in Reykjavik. It takes place on -you guessed it-the Summer Solstice, when the days are at their longest!
From June 21st to June 23rd every year, Reykjavik becomes a big party! The festival includes a wide variety of artists in different genres, both well-known and up-and-coming. In addition, you can catch both Icelandic and international acts!
This year, acts include Patti Smith, Rita Ora, and The Black Eyed Peas; yeah, we're talking big names here!
However, you can also find local acts and less known artists too! My personal favorites? Iceland's very own Vök, with their dreamy lyrics and funky sax, Hatari, this year's Eurovision entry, and Auður.
Spending some days in Reykjavik for the festival? It's a great opportunity to get to know the city a little better! Check out our top-rated Reykjavik Food Tour for a historical and culinary journey around Reykjavik!
3. lobster festival
As the name suggests, this festival is all about lobsters! It takes place in Höfn, which lies in the Hornafjörður fjord in Iceland's southeastern tip. No surprise there; Höfn is known as the lobster capital of the country!
In this festival, you will find lobsters, of course! You can try both traditional lobster recipes, as well as new, innovative ways of cooking them! Apart from the delicious dishes, you can enjoy concerts and other events as well.
The festival takes place from the 28th to the 30th of June, and it's perfect for the whole family!
While you are in Höfn, why not take a trip to Vatnajökull? The famous glacier is very close to Höfn (you can see it from the town!), and it's a beautiful place for some glacier hiking! Just make sure you have a guide, as you should never hike on a glacier alone!
FESTIVALS IN JULY
July's endless sunny days make it a perfect time for some summer festivals in Iceland. With some of the most diverse festivals and events, July has something for everyone to enjoy!
1. reykjavik fringe festival
Fringe festivals happen all over the world, throughout the whole year! It all started with Edinburgh's Fringe festival, and since then the phenomenon has spread all over the world, creating an amazing community of artists!
Reykjavik's Fringe is still at its infancy, but that doesn't make it any less worthy. Fringe is all about groundbreaking, interdisciplinary arts, with bold and radical artists behind the shows.
If you want to see the best that the Reykjavik underground scene has to offer, then visit Fringe from the 29th of June to the 6th of July. Just know that those are not your usual theater plays!
2. IRISH DAYS
Every year, on the first weekend of July, the residents of Akranes celebrate their Irish roots! The town's festival attracts locals from all over the country, but naturally, every single person from Akranes is there!
The town and the people are dressed in their Irish best, with the Irish flag and its colors being dominant. The festival is still distinctly Icelandic, though, and you can clearly see the mixture of the two cultures.
You can enjoy anything from markets and BBQs to a sandcastle competition! Are you a redhead who is not so competent at making sandcastles? Then the competition to find the most redhead person in Iceland might be for you! Just know that you will have strong competition. Akranes is full of people with bright red hair!
Yet another festival taking place on the first weekend of July! July truly is a very busy month when it comes to summer festivals in Iceland!
Goslokahátíð (End of Eruption festival in English) is exactly about what the name suggests. On January 3rd, 1973, one of Iceland's most catastrophic eruptions in modern history took place in Heimaey, the main island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. The eruption took the locals by surprise, but thankfully there were no victims. However, the houses and all properties were severely damaged.
The festival celebrates the end of the eruption. Heimaey locals are joined by people from the mainland for the celebrations. If you decide to join them, you can expect art exhibits, concerts, plays, and fashion shows, as well as hikes and events for the community!
Here we finally have another music festival! Eistnaflug takes place from the 10th to the 13th of July, in the charming little town of Neskaupstaður in the east of Iceland.
Once a year, every year since 2005, this quiet little town is occupied by fans of rock and heavy metal. For four days, you can enjoy local bands bringing the house down (almost literally).
A bonus: this year, the first Icelandic air guitar competition semi-finals will take place in Eistnaflug! The winner will compete in the world championships and, not to brag or anything, but you can catch me do some sick air guitar moves!
FESTIVALS IN AUGUST
August is the king of summer festivals in Iceland. That is mainly because of a specific festival, which happens to be the most popular of all (more on that soon)!
The first weekend of August is a bank holiday in Iceland. Many people take advantage of that and go on a short holiday away from the city (many of them go to the next festival in our list)! However, for those who would rather stay in Reykjavik, there is Innipúkinn.
Innipúkinn takes place from the 3rd to the 5th of August this year. Naturally, there are many concerts for you to attend, with a plethora of local artists. However, there are also other awesome events, such as karaoke, food stands and markets!
A great festival if you are traveling with family or friends, Innipúkinn will drag you in even if you are not planning it! If you are in Reykjavik the first weekend of August, it's hard to avoid this festival, as you can find its events virtually anywhere!
Drum roll please! þjóðhátíð is the biggest music festival in Iceland, attracting (mainly) locals and foreigners from all over the world every year!
It seems like all of Reykjavik goes to the Westman Islands on the first weekend of August, when this festival takes place. This year, it takes place from the 2nd to the 4th of August, and everyone is already talking about it.
With a variety of local acts, þjóðhátíð is the perfect place to see more of Iceland's culture and make some Icelandic friends! The festival even has a special song written for it every year, and the highlight of the entire weekend is when the festival song is sung, while flares light up around the crater where the concerts take place! Each flare represents each year of the festival, which first started in 1874!
3. the great fish day
Last but not least in our list of summer festivals in Iceland, we have the Great Fish Day. There are two reasons to visit this festival; first, its funny name, and second, the free food buffet!
This festival is held either on the first or second Saturday of August every year, in the town of Dalvík in north Iceland. People in the fishing industry and locals organize a gigantic seafood buffet in Dalvík's harbor, where everyone is invited to eat! You can try mouth-watering dishes made with freshly-caught fish and seafood, and prepared right there by the locals.
There are also many other events, such as concerts and community events, which aim to reinforce the bond between members of the local community. You are bound to make some Icelandic friends here!
some tips from a local!
No matter which summer festival in Iceland you attend, I am sure you will have an amazing, unforgettable time! To make your festival experience even better, here are some tips!
- Bring appropriate clothes. Just because these festivals are in the summer, it doesn't mean you won't get cold or wet! Make sure you bring some warm layers with you, as well as some boots and a raincoat!
- Bring sunscreen! Even on cloudy days, you can get a sunburn if you sit outside all day!
- Bring a tent! Festivals like þjóðhátíð and Eistnaflug that take place during many days and are outside of Reykjavik can be expensive when it comes to accommodation. So, join the Icelandic people and bring a tent!
- Bring alcohol. If you are going to a concert like þjóðhátíð and want to have a bit of alcohol, bring your own! That said, drink responsibly and be safe! Also, if it's a festival where it seems inappropriate to drink, don't bring alcohol!
- Mind your company. Did you come with kids? Go to a family festival. Did you come with your college buddies? Go to a wild music festival. Did you come with your parents? Tough luck.
some final words
What do you think about the summer festivals in Iceland? Have you already been to one? Are you planning to go? Let me know about your experiences in the comments!
I hope you have an amazing time on your trip to Iceland, and that you find the right summer festival for you and your company! As always, don't forget to share with fellow travelers!
Are you coming to Iceland this summer and want to have a true Icelandic experience? Then this guide is for you! Icelandic summers are graced with mild, warm weather and endless, sunny days. It’s no wonder that there are so many summer festivals in Iceland, both in Reykjavik and in other cities around the country!