With the short Icelandic summer drawing to a close the natives like to bid it farewell with a bang. August is a lively month with numerous festivals and celebrations taking place all over the country. The weather tends to treat us to some sun and lovely days, really squeezing out those last drops of summer. The daylight starts to decrease rapidly but that only adds to your chances of catching some of those darling Northern Lights. Let’s dig in August in Iceland, shall we?

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks

Weather in Iceland in August

August and July are the two warmest months in Iceland, although July has a slightly higher average. In August you’ll find an average high temperature of about 13°C (55 F) and an average low of about 8°C(47 F). On an Icelandic scale this is pretty stable and this you can expect. A bit of wind, not a lot of rain (fingers crossed) and mild perfect-for-adventures weather! 

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Daylight in August in Iceland

When it comes to daylight in August in Iceland you will see a tremendous difference between the earliest days and the latest. On the 1st of August, the sun rises at 4:33 and sits again at 22:32 where else on the 31st of August the sun rises diversely at 06:06 and sits at 20:48. However, this still means that you will have between 14 and 17 hours of daylight at your disposal. Use them wisely, there is a lot to see! 

Northern Lights in August in Iceland?

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as we like to call them, hide in plain sight throughout the summer dancing around the sky, fully present yet not seen. This has to do with their background. Let me explain better. During summer in Iceland was have an abundance of daylight, stretching well into the night and covering almost 24 hours. This phenomenon is called the Midnight Sun. It is beautiful and magical but it results in the damper condition for the Northern lights to really shine or stick out. Which is on the contrary to when the dark winter sky is present and they shine bright like neon waves. 

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks

Nonetheless, there is still hope for those visiting in late August. The Northern Lights are known to appear in late August, especially visible in the highlands and North/West. The guides of the Laugavegur Trail say that they can pretty much count on them during their latest departures of each season! 

What to Pack for Iceland in August

August is the month of lighter packing. You will not need a parka but a good sweater and a jacket will do. You might want to bring a hat and possibly a scarf as the weather can change quite rapidly and it’s good to have on hand.

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks

Below we have listed the basic packing list but your plan needs to be in mind when packing. There is a slight difference between a nightlife tended trip to Reykjavik and a glacier hiking expedition to the East. Still, just keep in mind: Layers are key!

Here is the basic packing list we always recommend for summer travels in Iceland: 

  • Base Layer: Wool Underwear/Thermals
  • Thick Socks (more pairs than usual)
  • Mid Layer: Sweater, Fleece or Wool this is up to you
  • T-Shirt
  • Long Pants (could be jeans but then bring another pair for activities)
  • Shorts
  • Hiking Boots/Sturdy Boots
  • Hat
  • Water/Windproof Jacket
  • Light Jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing Suit
  • Sunscreen (surprisingly important)
  • Lip Balm (you will know why when you land)

What to do in August in Iceland

Join a Horse Riding Tour

The Icelandic horse is a breed which has not mixed with any other for over 1000 years. They are bred and raised in open scapes, free to roam and play for the first few years of their life. During this time they gain the playful character that stays with them throughout. They have huge personalities, are very comfortably sized and, last but certainly not least, have a 5th gate known only to the Icelandic horse. It is called tölt and is a stable yet majestic pace.

In each step three legs touch the ground at the same time creating a wonderful movement for the rider. This is simply something you must experience. Join a horseback riding tour when in Iceland in August, you will not forget it.  

Take a Roadtrip

Believe it or not but Reykjavik’s city life can get a bit hectic. So, make sure to get out of the city and explore different parts of the country. Rent a car, follow the Iceland Travel Companion app or join a tour, the options are endless. Some of the most sought after sights include the Golden Circle in the South, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in the South East, Seydisfjordur (town) in the East, Hvitserkur in the North, Dynjandi waterfall in the Westfjords and Mt. Kirkjufell in the West. 

Go berry picking! 

One of the best things about Icelandic summers is the cherry on top decorated at the end of summer when the blue- and crowberries start growing wild in the hills. They are delicious, organic, natural and completely without the grizzly bear-risk other Arctic location might face. 

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks

Whether you wish to grab a few for the road, fill up a container or simply sit in the berry growth and feast, no one will stop you. Bon appetit! 

Events and Festivals in August in Iceland

The biggest of these is no doubt the “Verslunarmannahelgi,” a Labour Day/Bank Holiday equivalent to celebrating merchants that takes place over the first weekend of August. This weekend is the biggest domestic travel weekends for Icelanders as they flock to the many music festivals and camping trips available. But that is just the start of this festive month, as nearly every following week has some sort of cultural event taking place. Here are some we think you should check out:

The Reykjavík Marathon

The Reykjavík Marathon is held on August 19th, coinciding with Culture Night. The marathon is one of the most popular runs in Iceland with thousands of runners from all over the world participating. Runners can choose from five different distances; full marathon, half marathon, 10 k race, fun run and kid’s marathon so people of all ages can take part and enjoy the incredible scenery around the city as they run. Afterward, participants can enjoy the various events of Culture Night

Culture Night

The aforementioned Culture Night always takes place on the first Saturday after August 18th and has been held every year since 1996. The festival is created and participated in by Reykjavík’s residents and all events are free. Ranging from big concerts to intimate waffle parties in someone’s living room, Culture Night is a time when the city truly becomes alive with art and community spirit. The day marks the start of the city’s cultural year, when museums, theatres and other cultural institutions launch their annual program of events. The festivities culminate in a big fireworks display by the old harbor watched by thousands.

Reykjavík Pride

The Reykjavik Pride festival has been held since 1999 and has grown steadily every year, becoming one of Iceland’s biggest festivals. The six-day celebration attracts people from all over the world and is known for its family-friendly vibe, with a large percentage of the Icelandic population showing up to show support for the LGBTIQ community, equality and human rights.

This year’s festival takes place on August 8-13 and the schedule includes a wide variety of events, such as film screenings, concerts, photo exhibitions and literature events, along with a wide variety of educational events, that will give visitors a small taste of what Icelandic LGBTQI culture has to offer.

Reykjavik Jazz Festival

When you think of Icelandic music jazz might not be the first thing that comes to mind but we actually have a thriving jazz scene with talented musicians of international acclaim. The Reykjavik Jazz festival celebrates these homegrown talents as well as hosting performers from around the world. The festival takes place on August 9-13 at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik and you can buy a festival pass or individual day passes.

Fireworks at Jokulsarlon

The annual fireworks show at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon is an event no one should miss. Watch the colors of the fireworks reflected in the blue ice of the glaciers on the lagoon in one of nature’s most stunning sceneries. Candles are lit on the glaciers, lending the area an ethereal vibe that will not soon be forgotten. The entrance fee is 1000 ISK but free for children under 12 years old.

Swamp Soccer

The Annual Swamp Soccer Championship takes place in Bolungarvík in the Westfjords over three days where teams compete in the muddiest football matches you’ll ever see. Additional events like mud wrestling and mud tug of war are available for those less football inclined, but no matter what you participate in, prepare to get down and dirty. In the evenings’ bands and DJs play and you can bring your competitive spirit to the dancefloor. Just remember to shower first! This year’s Championship takes place on August 4-7.

Driving Around Iceland in August

The weather is generally better in August so driving around is easier and should be without winter’s complications such as snow and storms. The roads aren’t frosty nor slippery. This is an ideal time to explore the outskirts and highlands and for some of those areas, your last chance before Winter King visits Iceland again. 

august in iceland, August in Iceland – Festivals and Fireworks

Just make sure to check if your rental car is allowed on F-roads if the plan is to dig deeper into Iceland’s core with all its mountain and gravel roads. 

Ideal tours to do in August in Iceland

Áslaug Torfadóttir

Áslaug recently joined the Iceland Travel team after a decade of adventures out in the big, wide world. But all roads lead to Iceland as they (totally) say, and Áslaug is happy to now have the opportunity to introduce her home country to other travellers. Her favorite spot in Iceland is Skarðsvík beach on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, with Húsavík a close second. When not hard at work with the Iceland Travel team Áslaug writes scripts and plays and does copious amounts of research by watching hours upon hours of Netflix and visiting the local theatres and restaurants. Her favorite Icelandic saying is „Þetta reddast“ – roughly translated as „Eh…it‘ll be fine“