22. july. 2017

August in Iceland - Festivals and Fireworks

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 biggest of these is no doubt the “Verslunarmannahelgi,” a Labour Day/Bank Holiday equivalent to celebrate 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:

Runners in the Reykjavik Marathon

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. Afterwards participants can enjoy the various events of Culture Night

Páll Óskar performs at 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 programme of events. The festivities culminate in a big fireworks display by the old harbour watched by thousands.

Reykjavík Pride

Reykjavík Pride


The Reykjavík 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.

Harpa Concert Hall

Reykjavík 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 Reykjavík 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 Reykjavík and you can buy a festival pass or individual day passes.

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Fireworks at Jökulsárlón


The annual fireworks show at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is an event no one should miss. Watch the colours 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 kr but free for children under 12 years old.

Swamp Soccer

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.

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About the author

 

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“