Anybody with an eye on the international festival scene would know that the annual Iceland Airwaves music festival wrapped up this past weekend. There were something like 600 concerts taking place throughout Reykjavík over the course of five days, featuring Icelandic acts like Mammút, FM Belfast, and AMFJ, and international crowd-pleasers The Knife, and Flaming Lips among many, many others!
In short it was AH.MAH.ZING.
But there are way more festivals worth travelling to Reykjavík for than Airwaves. Here are our top pics, so mark your calendar and book your accommodation (we’ve made that second part super easy for you).
When is it? 12-14 February, 2015
What is it? An electronic and advanced music festival
Why go? The Sónar festival was launched in Barcelona in 1994 to celebrate electronic music and arts. Since then it has expanded around the world, adding Reykjavík to its roster in 2013. Basically, it has something for everyone. Sónar by Day will give you an opportunity to sit and appreciate local and international electronic and multimedia artists —the 2013 festival featured a performance by Ólafur Arnalds and acclaimed Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto that brought the audience to tears. Sónar by Night is an out of this world chance to shake what your mama gave ya! Serious, get ready to sweat! The 2015 edition will feature international sensation Skrillex, as well as the likes of TV on the Radio, and Ghostigital. An added bonus (though a local topic of debate) is that the whole thing goes down in the Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Centre, meaning there’s no waiting outside in unpredictable February weather for the next act on your wish list.
REYKJAVÍK ARTS FESTIVAL
When is it? 13 May — 7 June, 2015
What is it? A city-wide arts festival
Why go? Reykjavík’s arts scene is of international repute. Many visitors to the city rave about the creativity in the air and the quirkiness of the surroundings and the people. If ever there is a time of year where this is indisputable, it’s during the annual Reykjavík Arts Festival. Every available cultural space in the city plays host to exhibitions by domestic and international artists and many public spaces throughout the city are also transformed into open air galleries, or sort. The festival also tends to kick off and wrap up with a rather spectacular performance, so don’t miss the opportunity to check that out if you’re in town.
When is it? 12 — 15 March, 2015
What is it? A celebration of Icelandic design
Why go? It’s a chance to scope out the spectrum of Icelandic design. Clothing, graphic design, product design, architecture, food design. Over the course of 4 days Design March aims to celebrate quality design in everyday life. Local English-language mag The Reykjavík Grapevine has, in years past, kicked things off with the awarding of the Icelandic Design Awards, recognizing the top contributors to Icelandic design over the past year.
When is it? mid-January — mid-February
What is it? Midwinter festival
Why go? Well, because it is very Icelandic. Many Icelanders host or attend Þorrablót party sometime in late January or early February, the time of year that corresponds with the month of Þorri on the old Icelandic calendar. The act of hosting a feast (blót) in the month of Þorri, featuring speeches and toasts, became popular amongst those in the Icelandic independence movement in the mid 19th century. But the current association of Þorrablót specifically with eating traditional foods previously consumed throughout the Icelandic countryside gained more popularity in the 1950’s when a Reykjavík restaurant started offering a feast of fermented shark, sour rams testicles, singed and boiled sheep’s heads, and, for good measure, rye bread. Yum!
REYKJAVÍK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
When is it? 24 September — 4 October 2015
What is it? An international film festival… in Reykjavík
Why go? Because going to the movies is fun! This annual festival attracts big international names in the film industry, who participate in Q&A’s and host talks, and is a chance to celebrate Icelandic film and cinematic arts. RIFF also focuses on highlighting the works of up-and-coming filmmakers, meaning it’s a great chance to check out some films that aren’t the big seasonal blockbusters.
So, when will we see you in Reykjavík?