Vibrant Cultural Scene: Discover the Festivals in Iceland

Welcome to the land of festivals and celebration! With its rich cultural heritage, Iceland is a haven for those seeking immersive experiences in art, music, and traditions. Festivals in Iceland play a pivotal role in showcasing the country’s unique identity, attracting locals and curious travelers from around the world. 

From traditional folklore celebrations to cutting-edge music festivals, Icelandic festivals offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s vibrant culture.

Festivals in Iceland

Major Festivals in Iceland

Throughout the year, Iceland hosts various annual events that captivate the hearts of festival-goers. The Reykjavik Arts Festival stands as a testament to Iceland’s thriving art scene. It features exhibitions, performances, and installations by renowned artists from all corners of the globe. 

For music enthusiasts, the Iceland Airwaves festival is a must-attend, with its diverse lineup of local and international musicians gracing the stages of Reykjavik. Another prominent event is the Secret Solstice. It is a music festival held during the summer solstice. Here attendees can revel in the unique experience of music under the midnight sun.

List of Festivals in Iceland

Festivals in Iceland

Beer lovers can indulge in the Icelandic Beer Festival, celebrating the country’s burgeoning craft beer culture.

  • Reykjavik Arts Festival: An annual celebration of the arts featuring exhibitions, performances, and installations by both local and international artists.
  • Iceland Airwaves: A renowned music festival showcasing a diverse lineup of Icelandic and international musicians. It is held in various venues across Reykjavik.
  • Secret Solstice: A unique music festival that takes place during the summer solstice. It offers the extraordinary experience of music under the midnight sun.
  • Icelandic Beer Festival: A gathering for beer enthusiasts to savor the flavors of Icelandic craft beer. You can learn about the country’s growing beer culture.
  • Reykjavik Pride: An inclusive festival celebrating diversity and promoting LGBTQ+ rights, with a lively parade, concerts, and events throughout the city.
  • Thorrablot: A traditional mid-winter feast where Icelanders come together to enjoy unique delicacies. You can have a fermented shark and sheep’s head while honoring ancient customs.
  • Winter Lights Festival: An illuminating event held during the darkest days of winter, featuring stunning light displays, art installations, and cultural performances.
  • Reykjavik International Film Festival: A gathering of film enthusiasts showcasing a wide range of international and Icelandic films, including premieres and special screenings.
  • DesignMarch: A design festival that highlights the creativity and innovation of Icelandic designers, with exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and fashion shows.
  • Iceland Airwaves Off-Venue: A vibrant extension of the Iceland Airwaves festival, featuring free concerts and performances in various non-traditional venues throughout Reykjavik.

Cultural Significance of Festivals in Iceland

Festivals in Iceland

Icelandic festivals hold deep-rooted cultural significance, honoring the traditions, folklore, and heritage of the nation. These celebrations are not merely entertainment; they serve as a testament to the country’s rich history and promote Icelandic identity.

Many festivals have historical origins, connecting present-day Icelanders with their ancestors. By participating in these events, visitors can witness the customs, rituals, and costumes. They have been passed down through generations, contributing to the preservation of Icelandic culture.

Music and Arts Festivals in Iceland

Iceland’s dynamic music and arts scene takes center stage during festivals that celebrate these forms of expression. Sónar Reykjavík, a cutting-edge electronic music festival, brings together renowned DJs and producers, creating an electrifying atmosphere. 

The Reykjavik Jazz Festival showcases the talents of jazz musicians. While art exhibitions and cultural performances provide a visual and auditory feast for festival-goers. Workshops and interactive sessions offer opportunities to immerse oneself in the creative process and learn from the artists themselves.

Seasonal Festivals in Iceland

Festivals in Iceland

Iceland’s festivals adapt to the changing seasons, offering unique experiences that reflect the country’s natural beauty and cultural traditions.

 Winter Lights Festival 

During the winter months, the Winter Lights Festival takes center stage, transforming the dark nights into a mesmerizing display of lights. The festival illuminates landmarks, streets, and public spaces with stunning light installations. It creates a magical atmosphere that contrasts with the winter darkness. 

Visitors can wander through illuminated gardens, enjoy art exhibits, and witness captivating performances that celebrate the interplay between light and darkness.

Thorrablot

Thorrablot, another notable winter festival, harks back to Iceland’s ancient Viking heritage. This mid-winter feast is a celebration of Icelandic culinary traditions, where locals and visitors gather to indulge in traditional delicacies. 

Christmas Traditions

From fermented shark (hákarl) to smoked lamb, Thorrablot presents a unique opportunity to savor Icelandic cuisine while engaging in age-old customs. Participants often dress in traditional Viking-inspired attire, adding an extra touch of authenticity to the event.

Christmas traditions hold a special place in the hearts of Icelanders, and numerous festivals and events mark the holiday season. Christmas markets pop up in towns and cities, offering a variety of handcrafted gifts, decorations, and traditional treats. Concerts and choral performances fill the air with festive melodies, creating a warm and joyful ambiance. 

Families come together to decorate Christmas trees, exchange gifts, and indulge in delicious Icelandic Christmas cuisine. You can try the iconic smoked lamb and sweet treats like leaf bread (laufabrauð) and Christmas cookies (jólabraud).

National Day Celebrations

In the summer, Iceland bursts into life with vibrant seasonal festivals that take advantage of the long days and favorable weather. The National Day celebrations on June 17th commemorate Iceland’s independence and are marked by parades, concerts, and various cultural events. 

Locals proudly display their national costumes, and the atmosphere is one of patriotic joy and unity. Visitors can join in the festivities, experience traditional Icelandic music and dance, and witness the strong sense of national pride that permeates the celebrations.

Reykjavik Culture Night

Reykjavik Culture Night, held annually in August, is a highlight of the summer festival calendar. This vibrant event transforms the city into a sprawling cultural playground, with streets, parks, and squares bustling with activity. The event showcases the diverse cultural offerings of Reykjavik, featuring live music performances, art exhibitions, dance shows, theater performances, and much more. 

It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Icelandic arts and culture while enjoying the lively and welcoming atmosphere that permeates the city.

Secret Solstice

The summer season is also known for its outdoor music festivals that make the most of Iceland’s breathtaking natural landscapes. 

Events like Secret Solstice, held during the summer solstice, provide a unique experience of music under the midnight sun. Festival-goers can enjoy performances by internationally acclaimed artists in stunning outdoor venues surrounded by Iceland’s scenic beauty. 

Other notable summer music festivals include ATP Iceland. It focuses on alternative and indie music, and the Eistnaflug festival, catering to metal and rock music enthusiasts.

Unique Festival Experiences

For those seeking offbeat and immersive experiences, Iceland has several unconventional festivals. It provides a glimpse into local traditions and customs. The Viking Festival in Hafnarfjörður takes attendees back in time to the days of the Vikings with reenactments, historical exhibits, and interactive experiences.

Réttir, the traditional sheep round-up tradition, allows visitors to actively participate in this age-old Icelandic practice. You can gain insights into rural life and farming traditions. The Westman Islands’ puffin celebrations offer a chance to witness the fascinating birdlife of Iceland while engaging in local festivities and cultural activities.

Planning Your Festival Experience

If you are planning to attend festivals in Iceland, there are a few things to keep in mind. Book your accommodations well in advance, as festival seasons can be busy. Additionally, purchase your festival tickets early to secure your spot. 

Consider transportation options, such as renting a car or using public transportation, to navigate between festival venues and explore the surrounding areas. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore nearby attractions, such as natural wonders and historical sites, during your festival visit.

Conclusion

Immerse yourself in the enchanting festival culture of Iceland, where music, art, and traditions intertwine to create unforgettable experiences. Whether you are captivated by the beat of the drums, fascinated by visual art, or eager to partake in ancient rituals, Icelandic festivals offer something for everyone. 

Step into the warmth of Icelandic hospitality, join the locals in celebration and create memories that will last a lifetime. Discover the festivals in Iceland and unlock the vibrant cultural scene that awaits you.

Recent Posts

Reykjavik
blue lagoon
Guide to the Best Sites for Camping in Iceland

Guide to the Best Sites for Camping in Iceland

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.

Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarcticathe Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you. 

In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to  paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg. 

Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit

Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday

Annotation 2023-04-28 030538

See wildlife unobtrusively

Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.

Annotation 2023-04-28 030913

Better access

Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can’t reach.​

Annotation 2023-04-28 030939

Knowledgeable guides

Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Become an expert

Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Make friends

Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Stay fit on your holiday

Being active every day on your holiday means you don’t have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Enhance your experience

Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031213

It's fun!

Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.

FAQs

Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.

Kayakers must be 14 or over.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

We will give you a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. We recommend bringing a waterproof camera or phone, or ensuring you have a good quality waterproof case.

If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.

The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.

Polar regions

Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.

Temperate regions

Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.

Tropical regions

The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.

In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.

No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.

Contact Us

Previous slide
Next slide

Balcony Stateroom Superior

Deck: 4 & 6

Cabin and balcony combined size: 29.2m² – 35.2m² (314.3ft² – 378.9ft²)

Beds: 
Icon

King bed

 
Icon

Twin beds

Features

Icon

Private en-suite (wheelchair accessible)

Icon

Private balcony

Icon

Full size window

Icon

Desk area

Icon

Closet space

Icon

Room-controlled thermostat

Icon

Room safe

Icon

42″ flat-screen TV

Icon

Mini bar*

Cabin Inclusion

  • 1 x 3-in-1 polar jacket per person (polar voyages only)

Some of these rooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

*Please note mini bar items are chargeable in all cabins except Junior Suite and Captain’s Suite

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.

Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarcticathe Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you. 

In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to  paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg. 

Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit

Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday

Annotation 2023-04-28 030538

See wildlife unobtrusively

Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.

Annotation 2023-04-28 030913

Stay fit on your holiday

Being active every day on your holiday means you don’t have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!

Annotation 2023-04-28 030939

Knowledgeable guides

Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Enhance your experience

Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Make friends

Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Better access

Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can’t reach.​

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Become an expert

Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031213

It's fun!

Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.

FAQs

Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.

Kayakers must be 14 or over.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.

The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.

Polar regions

Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.

Temperate regions

Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.

Tropical regions

The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.

In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.

No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.

Contact Us

× 24/7 Whatsapp