Summertime in Iceland is a unique experience. The long days (with an average of 20 hrs of daylight) and midnight sun are guaranteed to energize you and deliver mind-blowing late night sunsets. The sheep and horses roam free on vibrant green fields, the mountains take on multi-colored hues and the weather is generally mild, with an average temperature of 9°C (48°F.) So while you shouldn’t expect heat waves, you should be free from blizzards. Icelanders’ mood has always been intrinsically linked to the weather and that’s never more apparent than in June, when the darkness of winter is finally lifted and the long-awaited sun finally starts peeking out from the clouds. You can sense the change in energy just walking out in the street. Everyone is smiling and there’s a buzz of energy in the air. Perhaps that’s why June is full of various arts and music festivals, as well as other celebrations that are well worth checking out.
The celebrations kick off on the first weekend of June with Hátíð hafsins (Festival of the Sea), where all things nautical are celebrated. The festivities take place down by the harbor where people of all ages gather to see wondrous sea creatures, listen to music and watch a thrilling, pirate-style pillow fight.
On June 17th people gather yet again for the Icelandic Independence Day celebrations, but June 17th 1944 is when we officially gained our independence from Denmark after centuries of Danish rule. Today the people of Iceland celebrate this occasion with parades, concerts, balloons and candy floss (much to the chagrin of health-conscious parents). The day is notorious for bad weather but Icelanders have never let a little rain stop them from enjoying themselves and you shouldn’t either. This year there’ll be the added elation and national pride that comes with the fact that the day before the Icelandic men’s soccer team will have played its first ever game in the FIFA World Cup so make sure you’ve practiced your Viking Clap before heading into town.
June 21st marks the Summer Solstice and there is no place in the world better to celebrate that than Iceland. The longest day of the year is gorgeously lit by the magical Midnight Sun, something that needs to be experienced to fully grasp the idea of 24 hour daylight. Why not try midnight golfing or midnight horseback rides to take full advantage of the extra hours? Speaking of extra, a celebration of summer and light in Iceland can’t last just a day! In order to lengthen this special time Icelanders celebrate Jonsmessa, or Midsummer Night, on the 24th. Named after John the Baptist, this night is thought to have supernatural powers. Cows gain speech, magical stones float to the top of ponds, seals become human and elves will try to tempt you over to their world, so be careful. It’s also said that rolling around naked in the dew on Jonsmessa has healing qualities, although we wouldn’t recommend doing that in any public places.
The Reykjavík Arts Festival takes place from June 1st – June 17th with a great selection of local and international artist contributing to events all over the city. The theme this year is “Home” and the many interpretations that invites. The solstice weekend sees music lovers of all ages flock to Laugardalur valley for the aptly named Secret Solstice festival. The festival’s been getting bigger and better every year and with international superstars like Stormzy, Gucci Mane and the legend Bonnie Tyler headlining, this year should be no exception. The four day, family friendly festival also hosts a number of unique off-site events, including concerts on top of a glacier or inside an actual volcano.