Most people visit Iceland to experience all the natural wonders. Visit the dramatic volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, geysers, and the mountains!
How about mixing all that with experience of a music festival with the locals. Even though Iceland has a small population we have numerous festivals to choose from.
Not everyone is familiar with Icelandic music? Maybe you have heard about our famousBjörk, Sigur Rós or Of Monsters and Men? In addition to them Iceland is buzzing with new and great artists. As far back as Icelandic history is recorded, music has played a major part in the nation’s culture and tradition of story telling.
On top of that, the capital, Reykjavík is known for being the perfect festival city. The small size makes it easy to walk between bars and different venues, making sure you don’t missing out on anything. The city is warm and welcoming with great nightlife and one main street filled with bars and pubs. Not to mention all the small and cozy villages in Iceland that throw annually their own music festivals.
The best part: Before you can remember what happened last night you are out in the nature exploring waterfalls, lava fields, volcanoes or maybe just relaxing in a natural hot spring somewhere!
So let the music take you to Iceland!
Music festivals in Iceland
Secret Solstice – The midnight sun festival
You have maybe heard about the midnight sun in Iceland. Because of how close Iceland is situated to the arctic circle, the nation gets the full on effect of seasonal changes on a unique scale. Winter comes with complete darkness but summertime brings bright nights with 24 hours of sunlight. As early as May and as late as August, Iceland’s nights are bright.
21st of June is the “longest day” of the year in Iceland and locals celebrate this as “summer solstice”. Some play golf during the night, some go hiking while others go skinny dipping in the cold Atlantic ocean.
The music festival Secret Solstice is for three entire days from 19th – 21st June, held outside on a green spot in Reykjavík. It is the only festival where you can party at a time when the sun never sets during the entire weekend. Close to the festival is a camp site so bring a tent for an unforgettable experience.
It showcases both established artists as well as exciting up-and-coming talent.
Iceland Airwaves is our most popular music festival and is held in the capital, Reykjavík. The festival takes place in the autumn or in early November where it spans five days (Wednesday – Sunday).
Iceland Airwaves, have become known for their ability to spot out new talent. It is listed as one of the premier annual showcases for new music, both Icelandic and international. Many bands that are big nowadays have performed at the festival before even being well-known.
So what’s the festival like? Think of the craziest party you’ve ever been to and multiple it by ten and continue like that for five days straight and you’ve some idea what the festival is like. It all happens in downtown Reykjavík and is spread over a plethora of venues that are all within ten minutes walking distance from one another, making it effortless to catch all the good stuff. Every pub in Iceland is quite tiny and you will hardly find any “nightclubs”. So for each event there can be limited space but that’s also what gives the festival such great vibe.
This year, 2015, the festival will be from the 4th until the 8th of November. The line-up has already been listed with great news that Björk will be performing.
During the weekend you will also find plenty of events happening around the capital and free off-venues. Downtown Reykjavík fills with all sorts of music related activities. It’s like some crazy music carnival, really, with live music blaring from every corner of the city. Bands and musicians perform shows at bars, restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, fashion boutiques and… anywhere that can fit a band or musician, really.
During the festival there is also a “hangover party” in the Blue Lagoon with DJ’s playing for the crowd.
However the tickets for Iceland Airwaves get sold out super fast each year, so if you are planning on going you should scan the ticket sale.
The internationally famous music festival Sónar has now taken root in Reykjavík. The festival is held in the brand new concert house, Harpa, situated by the harbour in downtown Reykjavik. The venue is in the midst of the city’s heartbeat in a walking distance from most hotels, museums, bars and restaurants. This festival is held during Icelandic winter which will give you an unique experience of the arctic darkness outside along with the joy of music. If you are lucky you might spot the northern lights as well!
Last years the festival has taken place on five stages with a total capacity of 3500 guests. Beside two other main stages are changed into a nightclub where DJ’s perform during the festival. Harpa’s underground car park is also transformed into a nightclub! The best thing about Sónar Reykjavík is that the whole festival takes place in one music hall, making it easy to browse between stages without having a snowstorm kicking your face. The whole house is filled with great atmosphere and festival guests in their best moods. For the extreme party animals the bar street of Iceland lies only 5 min walk away from the Harpa music hall making it easy to walk there after you have seen your best bands on stage.
The line up usually includes balanced mix of both international artists and the most current ones from Iceland’s thriving music scene.
Aldrei fór ég Suður – I Never Went South
Besides Reykjavík, pretty much every village in the country throws some sort of a festival each year, small or big ones. This one takes place in the beautiful Westfjords of Iceland, in the town of Isafjordur, during easter break.
“Aldrei fór ég suður” or I Never Went South is a rock festival where the entrance is free of charge and all the artist are giving their work for free. It is mix of local bands and the biggest names in the Icelandic music scene. It traces its origins to the musicians Mugison and his father, their aims was to celebrate local musicians and to get people out from the capital.
You can hardly find a festival in as remote place as this small fishing town tucked away in the West of Iceland. The Westfjords are Iceland’s most remote region, with majestic landscapes, diverse wildlife and richness in folklore. Here you will find tall mountains, deep fjords, cozy café’s and great places for outdoor activity like skiing and sea kayaking. Making it a great opportunity for an unforgettable weekend in the most beautiful place in Iceland.
This festival is personal and cosy with a charm that’s unlike any big festivals. Here you will mostly see locals enjoying great music, taking a break from their studies for final exams or their regular job. Try to mingle with the locals and you’ll who knows if you will be invited for a coffee in an 100 year old house.
The line up is not announced in advance, and each band has a strict twenty-minute time limit on stage. So if you want to participate in this one, you should purchase a ticket to Iceland over the Easter weekend.
P.s. and don’t forget to buy the traditional Icelandic chocolate Easter egg! Mmmm….
Bræðslan music festival
Bræðslan music festival takes places during high summer in Iceland. When I said that you will probably not find a more remote festival place than the Westfjords, I guess I was wrong!
Bræðslan music festival takes place in a tiny seaside community called Borgarfjörður-Eystri which is located in the far north-east of Iceland, home to just around 100 people. To get there you will cross gravel roads, through steep mountain roads and past old farms.
On top of that, the festival takes place in an old fish processing plant! In this small village you can encounter world famous bands, meet hospitable locals and enjoy the time of your life. As mention before the festival takes place in the middle of the Icelandic summer so it’s bright the whole night where the sun never sets! Well now you probably have the imagine of how spectacular it really is.
Bræðslan music festival takes place in late July every year with artsy folk, country and indy rock musicians lining up the stage. Mingle with some locals, bring a wool jumper, a tent and have the time of your life! You will not be disappointed by the festival location, with the steep mountains and breathtaking surrounding.
LungA festival is probably one of the greatest festivals you will ever hear about and has now become one of Iceland’s biggest art festival for young people. It takes part in another tiny town called Seyðisfjörður on the eastern coast of Iceland. Here you will have more than just your standard series of concerts and after parties. The festival is celebration of art, workshops, gallery exhibitions and fashion exhibitions.
At every corner of the town market pops up, music is displayed and the fjord is filled with artistic people enjoying life. At the start of the festival is a fashion show that is lined up inside an old fish factory.
Throughout the weekend you will listen to great weekend, enjoy the bright summer nights and get inspired by the creativity of young artist from all over. The festival area has a campsite so bring your tent and guitar.
Have you ever imagined a three day heavy metal festival located in the middle of nowhere and gathering thousands fans from all around?
Eistnaflug that is a heavy metal/hard rock indoor festival situated in Neskaupstaður a tiny town located on the Eastern coast of Iceland, 700km away from Reykjavik. At this music festival you will really get taste of the best in music from both international bands along with many well known Icelandic bands.
The festival traces its origins to 2005 where the festival started out as a one day metal festival. Since then it has grown into a hard core 4 day festival where metal, hardcore, punk, rock and indie bands share the stage.
Eistnaflug is held annually on the second weekend of July each year. The peaceful village of Neskaupstaður has about 1.400 inhabitants, but on the second weekend of July that number doubles. The people of the village are the most hospitable and welcome the festival guests each year with a smile on their face.
For the original article visit Asa and Andri‘s blog, article: MUSIC FESTIVALS IN ICELAND