The second weekend in August is Reykjavik Pride Weekend in Iceland. This is a six day festival and offers many great events. Make sure you don’t miss it.
The annual celebration has been held officially since 1999 but its beginnings trace back to 1993 when Icelandic gays and lesbians gathered in downtown Reykjavík to protest against discrimination and demand equal human rights. This fight, although far from over, has advanced in leaps and bounds since and today Iceland is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to LBGTIQ rights. In 2009 Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was elected Prime Minister, the first openly gay head of government in modern times.
The Pride celebration has expanded into a six day festival that takes place all over Reykjavik and includes concerts, lectures, and film screenings amongst others, making the Reykjavík Pride the “biggest little Pride” in the world, drawing around a hundred thousand people from all over the world. For the past three years the week has kicked off with the painting of a huge rainbow by a prominent landmark in the city. The first year Skólavörðustígur, the street leading up to the Hallgrímskirkja church, became a rainbow, then the steps of the oldest high school in the city and this year the entrance to the Reykjavík City Hall got the honours. Last year many of the local businesses used the opportunity to spruce up their store fronts in the rainbow colours as well.
But the highlight is, without a doubt, the Pride parade itself that takes place on the Saturday. This year’s parade will be special since it’s the first time the Asexual community will officially participate. Originally attended by only about 1500 onlookers, the parade has blossomed into the biggest family event of the year for locals, who show up in droves with their families to show their support and share in the fun. Led by various themed platforms on trucks, designed to highlight the diversity within the LGBTIQ community, the parade makes its way through downtown towards a huge stage where some of the top performers in Iceland perform an outdoor concert for the crowd complete with lots of rainbow and glitter. Later that evening the Official Pride Party takes place in the Old harbour area. It’s certainly the most colourful time of year in the city.
This year the theme of Reykjavík Pride is LGBTIQ art and artist, shining the spotlight on the rich culture of Icelandic LGBTIQ artists who are known for their boldness and for using their art as a platform to ask uncomfortable questions about their life and identity. These artists have been monumental in changing minds and hearts towards LGBTIQ people in the Icelandic society. Events include a queer literary walk around Reykjavik, a talk with queer women in music in Iceland and a George Michael tribute concert.
One of the hallmarks of the Reykjavik Pride is its emphasis on family. This is reflected in the programme with many events catered to children and families. The queer sports club Styrmir hosts an afternoon of outdoor fun at Klambratún park, full of games and sports that culminate in a barbeque. Also at Klambratún park is the Family Rainbow Festival, hosted by the Association of Queer Parents. On the Sunday there’s swimming and ice cream at a local pool where a DJ keeps everyone’s spirits high. There are also lectures on trans children and teens in Iceland and life outside the binary.
All official festival events are open to everyone with a ticket or a festival pass and most of the various off venue events are free and open to everyone. Add your colour to the rainbow and come celebrate with the locals. Love is love!