Thursday, January 3, 2013

Famous Festivals in Iceland

New York. Paris. London. Reykjavik?

Iceland has become popular among foreign travelers for many reasons, but its capital city is not chiefly among them. Many people in recent years have begun to flock to this northern European country to experience its myriad sights and pristine natural landscapes. Indeed, visitors come for the active geysers, the majestic glaciers and the rejuvenating natural hot springs. And then there’s the spectacle that is the aurora borealis. But these same people often overlook Reykjavik.Iceland offers almost as much in the form of celebrations as it does in sightseeing, ground zero for Iceland’s cultural party scene is its capital city. There are many festivals in Iceland, and the best part is that they occur year round. So with that in mind, here are some of the top holidays, celebrations, festivals and music gatherings on offer throughout the year in Reykjavik.

Prettandinn/Twelfth Night – January 6th
This national holiday is in honor of the last day of Yule and Iceland celebrates it much the same way as it does New Year’s Eve, although in a much smaller manner. Twelfth Night celebrations often include leftover fireworks from the New Year’s festivities as well as torch-lit parades featuring locals dressed as kings and elf queens. Evening bonfires provide a hub for locals to congregate and shoot the breeze while warming themselves.
It’s a uniquely Icelandic holiday that features much of the country’s imaginative folklore.

Thorinn – January 25th – February 22nd
Icelanders celebrate the end of winter by holding a long festival called Thorrablot. During this period, there is much singing, dancing and an abundance of traditional Viking food that adventurous travelers should definitely make time for. The offerings include everything from stockfish to singed sheep’s head.
National Day – June 17th
June 17th has been Iceland’s National Day since 1944. Each year on this date the city of Reykjavik comes alive with parades, dancing, music and theater.

Reykjavik Culture Night – August 24th
Culture night has become one of Iceland’s most popular holidays because it allows anyone and everyone to come out and support this nation’s cultural life. And most people do. During Culture Night, thousands of people pour into the streets in order to enjoy and take part in the various folkloric shows and cultural exhibitions.

Lighting of the Oslo Christmas Tree – December 2nd
In 1952, Oslo, Norway presented Iceland with a Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays. And Iceland has maintained this tradition every year since. Each year, a gigantic Christmas tree is placed in Austurvollur Square, which is located in the middle of downtown Reykjavik. And every year families come out in droves to watch the lighting of the tree and sing Christmas carols.

New Year’s Eve – December 31st
After a few dark months, Icelanders get understandably excited at the promise January holds of more light. Therefore, New Year’s is a popular celebration that involves dining with family and friends and gathering among a gigantic bonfire to watch fireworks.
These are just a few of the national holidays that showcase Iceland’s rich cultural heritage. Any one of the festivals is worth it for the experience alone, but there are many other newer festivals throughout the year, including music and theater celebrations. 

Nonni Haraldsson is a Social Media Coordinator at, Iceland’s Trusted Provider since 1964, offering accommodations in several cities across Iceland including Hotel Marina Reykjavik and Reykjavik.

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