Lots of things to get excited about in 2018! Iceland’s men’s football team will be competing in the World Cup and the country will be celebrating 100 years of sovereignty. There’s also a whole host of fabulous events and curious annual traditions to look forward to! So without further ado, here’s our month-by-month pick of the year starting with the super-strange mid-winter festival known as Thorrablót. 

JANUARY

My Thorrablót feast!

 

Thorrablót is a traditional winter festival coinciding with the old Icelandic month of Thorri. It involves a lot of weird and scary-looking food so don’t be surprised if restaurant menus list dishes such as sour ram’s testicles (súrsaðir hrútspungar), putrid shark, singed sheep’s head (svið) or liver and suet pudding (lifrarpylsa).

WHEN: 20 Jan-19 Feb

WHERE: In homes and restaurants all around Iceland

Icelandair add three new connections to the USA!

To kick off the New Year, Icelandair announced three new North American destinations, with new services to Kansas City, San Francisco and Baltimore.

The Reykjavík International Games is an annual multi-sport event that invites both Icelandic and international athletes to complete in Reykjavík. rig.is

WHEN: Hosted on weekends between Jan 25-Feb 4

WHERE: Laugardalur Sports Valley in Reykjavik

Dark Music Days Festival is one of the oldest music festivals in Iceland and provides a platform for Icelandic composers to showcase their work. darkmusicdays.is

WHEN: 25-27 Jan

WHERE: The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

FEBRUARY

Hallgrímskirkja Church at the Winter Lights Festival in Reykjavík.. Light installation by Marcos Zotes. All images by Roman Gerasymenko

The Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival features fantastic light installations, dances, winter sports exhibitions, swimming-pool night and a Museum Night when many museums staying open until late. There’s usually a free bus service to shuttle people between venues. vetrarhatid.is

WHEN: 1-4 Feb

WHERE: Various venues in Reykjavik

Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride combines nature, nightlife, the northern lights and some world-class cuisine during a three-day small pride festival. rainbowreykjavik.is

WHEN: 8-11 Feb

WHERE: Reykjavik City and South Iceland

Bolludagur, or ‘bun day’, is the Icelandic national day for eating delicious cream puffs.

WHEN: 12 Feb

WHERE: All around Iceland

Sprengidagur, or ‘bursting day’, is for eating salted meat and pea soup – to bursting point. It’s a welcome relief after all the cream puffs from the day before.

WHEN: 13 Feb

WHERE: All around Iceland

Öskudagur is Ash Wednesday when the streets of Reykjavík fill with children in costume making their way from door to door singing for sweets.

WHEN: 14 Feb

WHERE: All around Iceland

MARCH

Sónar Reykjavík is an international festival of advanced music, technology and creativity hosted annually in Reykjavík since 2013. sonarreykjavik.com

WHEN: 16-17 Feb

WHERE: The Harpa Concert Hall

Design March is an annual event showcasing the best creations straight from the Icelandic design scene, with fresh, exciting, exotic and under-the-radar treasures. honnunarmars.is

WHEN: 15-18 March

WHERE: The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre & various venues in Reykjavík

The Icelandic Music Experiments is a national music competition showcasing numerous up-and-coming Icelandic artists. musiktilraunir.is

WHEN: 25 March – 1 April

WHERE: The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

Aldrei fór ég suður music festival 

The festival, which translates as Never did I go South, is celebrated annually in the remote town of Ísafjórður in the West Fjords over Easter weekend.

WHEN: 29-31 March

WHERE: Local venues in and around Ísafjorður see website for more details.

APRIL

The Iceland Writers Retreat is a series of workshops and panels led by award-winning and best-selling international writers. In between intimate workshops and lectures, participants go on literary tours of Iceland’s natural wonders and learn about the country’s rich literary tradition. Icelandwritersretreat.com

WHEN: 11-15 April

WHERE: Based out of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura

The Eve Online Fanfest invites countless fans from around the world to meet in Reykjavík for an exciting three-day adventure, featuring fantastic tournaments, keynote speeches, design presentations, parties and lots of geeky player camaraderie. This year the event is celebrating 15 years of fandom. fanfest.eveonline.com

WHEN: 12-14 April

WHERE: Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

The Children’s Culture Festival is a celebration packed with glittering events, performances and creativity, with the key emphasis being on the creative input of local children. childrensculturefestival.is

WHEN: 17-22 April

WHERE: Various venues around Reykjavik city

MAY

John Cleese performs at Harpa 

The English comedian, actor and screenwriter, John Cleese, will be performing at Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre as part of his Last Time to See Me Before I Die tour.

WHEN: 17-19 May

WHERE: Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík. For tickets visit Harpa’s website.

Startup Iceland is an annual conference showcasing the best and most exciting startups in Iceland.

WHEN: 31 May

WHERE: Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. More info at the Startup Iceland website.

JUNE

Landing in the land of the midnight sun, Keflavík Iceland. ©Roman Gerasymenko

The Reykjavík Arts Festival promotes Icelandic and international culture in all fields of art. listahatid.is

WHEN: 1-17 June

WHERE: In museums and arts venues around Reykjavík

Mariners’ Day is celebrated annually around the country in June with the biggest event – the Festival of the Sea – taking place in Reykjavík.

WHEN: 2-3 June

WHERE: Harbour villages and towns around Iceland. The Festival of the Sea takes place at the Reykjavík Old Harbour and Grandi.

Iceland competes at the World Cup in Russia! Iceland’s most anticipated event of the year is set to take place on 16th June when the national men’s football team play their first World Cup game against Argentina.

WHERE: Moscow, Russia

WHEN: 16 June

The Reykjavík Air Show is hosted annually at Reykjavík Airport by the National Aviation Society (Flugmálafélagið Íslands). flugdagurinn.is

WHEN: to be announced

WHERE: Reykjavík Airport

The Viking Festival – a festival of Viking culture, attracting Viking enthusiasts from all around the world, some in full Viking costume. Highlights include markets, dances, music and wrestling. fjorukrain.is

WHEN: Mid June – date to be announced

WHERE: The Viking Villiage in Hafnarfjörður

Secret Solstice is an Icelandic music festival that showcases both established artists as well as exciting up-and-coming talent over the course of three days in the 24-hour midnight sun during the summer solstice. secretsolstice.is

WHEN: 21-24 June

WHERE: Laugardalur Spring Valley, Reykjavík

Independence Day, or National Day – Þjóðhátíðardagurinn. On this day in 1944, the Republic of Iceland was formed. June 17 was the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of the 19th-century Icelandic independence movement. Festivities in most towns. Parades in Akureyri and Reykjavík, plus street theatres, dancing and other performances.

WHEN: 17 June

WHERE: Celebrated in Reykjavík city centre and every town and village in Iceland

AUGUST

Reykjavík Pride is the largest little pride in the world and attracts around 100,000 people of all genders — friends, relatives, and a fast-growing number of tourists — to celebrate and support universal human rights. The event culminates with the great Pride Parade and a massive outdoor concert. reykjavikpride.is

WHEN: 7-12 August

WHERE: Downtown Reykjavík

The Reykjavík Marathon provides a wonderful day of great sporting events, inspiration and athletic achievements. The event attracts over 15,000 participants and raises millions for charity.

WHEN: 7-12 August

WHERE: Downtown Reykjavík

Reykjavík Culture Night is the city’s biggest summer event, which, despite the title, is celebrated all day long and ends with a colossal fireworks display late in the evening. On this date, the entire city comes together to host an epic-sized party, packed with an exciting variety of performances, exhibitions, street art, street food, concerts and other activities.

WHEN: 18 August

WHERE: Downtown Reykjavík

SEPTEMBER

Réttir – the annual sheep round-up is one of the highlights of the autumn season in Iceland where everyone gets together to round up the sheep before winter. The majority of events take place from mid- September through October with plenty of opportunities coming up for those who’d like to take part. bbl.is

WHEN: Mid-September- through October. Dates and events to be announced.

WHERE: farming communities across Iceland

The Reykjavík International Film Festival invites guests to indulge their cultural appetites with some quality independent film-productions from Iceland and around the globe. Budding film-makers can learn from a few seasoned film-makers by attending masterclasses and panels and enjoy a number of concerts and exhibitions. riff.is

WHEN: 29 Sept. 9 October

WHERE: Selected venues in Reykjavík City Centre

OCTOBER

The Imagine Peace Tower lighting ceremony. Yoko Ono visits Iceland every year to light her Imagine Peace Tower—a stunning work of art inspired by John Lennon and installed on Videy Island, Reykjavik. It was officially lit for the first time on the date of John Lennon’s birthday (9 October) in 2007 and lights the winter skyline with its super beam of light until December. imaginepeacetower.com

WHEN: 9 October

WHERE: Viðey Island in Reykjavík

NOVEMBER

Iceland Airwaves, supported by founding sponsor Icelandair, is a critically-acclaimed music festival showcasing the hottest new international bands and the best up-and-coming Icelandic artists. icelandairwaves.is

WHEN: 7-10 November

WHERE: Music venues in Reykjavík and Akureyri

The Christmas Book Flood

The fabulous Icelandic tradition, known as Jólabókaflóðið, or the annual Christmas book flood, is a real treat and one that stems from the age-old practice of giving books as Christmas presents.

The dates and location of the next event have yet to be announced. Keep updated by visiting the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature website. 

DECEMBER

Iceland celebrates 100 years of sovereignty

On Saturday, December 1st Iceland will be celebrating a century since the Act of Union, when Iceland was first recognised as a sovereign state.

WHEN: 1 December

WHERE: Main events to be announced

Lighting of the Oslo Christmas Tree

This event is one of the longest standing traditions of the festive season in Reykjavík and has been an important part of the Christmas celebrations in the city since the year 1952. This illumination ceremony usually takes place on the first Sunday in December.

Mozart at Midnight

Performed annually by the Óperukórinn in Reykjavík together with the Reykjavík Symphony Orchestra. the performance is arranged to coincide with the anniversary of Mozart’s passing at 1 am on December 5th with the exact moment dramatically symbolised during the goose-bump-inducing Lacrimosa. For tickets call (+354) 552-7366. 

WHERELangholtskirkja church

WHEN: From 23.50 on Sunday 4th December

The Christmas Creatures

Iceland’s curious Christmas Creatures, which include the famous family of Yule Lads, come down from the mountains every December to deliver a few tasty treats to all the good children (or rotten potatoes to the naughty ones). But with names like Sausage Swiper and Door Slammer you can expect a little mischief from them too.

St Thorlakur’s Day

St.Thorlakur’s Day honours Iceland’s only anointed saint and is celebrated on the 23rd December every year with a bizarre feast of putrid skate fish.

WHERE: Celebrated in restaurants and homes across Iceland

WHEN: 23 December

Christmas Eve is known as Aðfangadagur in Icelandic. Officially starting at 6 pm, this is the day that Icelanders celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts. Giving books as Christmas presents is very traditional in Iceland.

WHERE: Across Iceland

WHEN: 24 December

New Year’s Eve is one of Iceland’s most spectacular events where the capital city explodes with dazzling colour and light in one of the most impressive firework shows you’ll ever see. Pubs and clubs stay open until around 5 am, but the house parties can go on even later.

WHEN: 31 December

WHERE: The biggest events take place in Reykjavík and Akureyri

GETTING TO ICELAND

Icelandair operates services to Iceland from 37 destinations in North America and 35 destinations in Europe. They also offer a #mystopover deal, where you can stop in Iceland (at no additional airfare) on flights to and from their other destinations in Europe and North America. www.icelandair.com

 

 

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