Iceland - Calendar


January

Catch a glimpse of the northern lights

Northern lights, Iceland by Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit Reykjavik Visit Iceland in winter to be in with the best chance of seeing the northern lights © Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit Reykjavik 

Many make the winter pilgrimage to Iceland to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Created by solar storms, there’s nothing quite like watching the northern lights dance across the sky in all their green glory. For recommended tour operators running trips to see the northern lights, click here

March

DesignMarch, Reykjavík

Iceland’s rich and unique design scene is celebrated in the annual DesignMarch festival, held at the Icelandic Museum of Design and Applied Art. Guests can check out everything from tanned fish-leather fashion accessories to inventive product design. 

June

Iceland’s national day

Iceland’s national day (Þjóðhátiðargurinn) or independence holiday is on 17 June. Festivities normally include a big parade and picnics and a jubilant mood. People wear national dress and fly Icelandic flags – it’s a great time to visit because these are the longest days of the year.

International Viking Festival, Hafnarfjörður

Vikings, Iceland by Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit ReykjavikThe International Viking Festival is held in June © Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit Reykjavik

Typically held in mid-June, the festival focuses around an outdoor market, swordfights, music, dancing, and your usual Renaissance fair fare but with a Viking twist. 

July

Hike the Laugavegur Trail 

Take advantage of July and what is likely the best weather of the year for Iceland. Locals get their summerhouse keys ready and head out chasing the midnight sun. Do the same and embark on the Laugavegur Trail (Laugavegurinn) that will take you from hot springs to snow fields, glaciers, mountains and lava fields over four breath-taking days of trekking. 

August

Jazz Festival, Reykjavík 

Reykjavík’s jazz scene goes way back to the very beginning and is known for its very eclectic expression and enthusiastic local following. More information about the annual festival can be found on its website

Fiskidagur, Dalvík

In a heartfelt attempt to lure tourists up off the ring road, Dalvík hosts the annual Fiskidagur or ‘fish day’ festival in mid-August, which involves the townspeople stuffing you with copious amounts of seafood (for free). It’s a delicious distraction.

September

The roundup

Horse, Iceland by Daria Medvedeva, ShutterstockHorses play a big role in the annual roundup © Daria Medvedeva, Shutterstock

The roundup (réttir) takes place in the early autumn, between 1 and 30 September. After a summer of free grazing up in the highlands, the sheep are rounded up and chased back down to their respective farms. Icelanders show great skill on their horses, and it’s a time of outdoor activities like camping and horseriding – those who can experience this annual event in person, should. 

October

Remember John Lennon at Yoko Ono’s Peace Memorial  

Imagine peace tower, Iceland, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit ReykjavikThe Imagine Peace Tower is lit up from October to December © Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Visit Reykjavik

Yoko Ono’s peace tower, an installation that projects a beam of light into the sky is lit on John Lennon’s birthday 9 October each year and turned off on 8 December, the day of his death. Yoko set up the tower on Videy Island in memory of her husband and his message of peace. She has said she chose Iceland because the island is regularly voted the most peaceful country in the world.

November

Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavík

Iceland Airwaves is the mega-huge, much-talked-about music festival that rocks Reykjavík every October/November. The hype is well deserved and if you happen to be around, you’ll hear well-known international headliners play alongside Reykjavík’s many bands, both crazy and sane. Iceland Airwaves has been attracting huge headline groups in recent years.

Christmas village, Reykjavík

The Christmas village picks up at the end of November and is open every weekend until Christmas Day. It’s all about shopping and Santa Claus (and elves!), but with enough Icelandic flavour to make it credible.

December

New Year’s Eve

Fireworks, Iceland, Ragnar Th, Sigurdsson, Visit ReykjavikFireworks form a part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations © Ragnar Th, Sigurdsson, Visit Reykjavik

New Year’s Eve (Gamlárskvöld) is the party to end all parties: Icelanders light giant bonfires and then blow up all kinds of fireworks – even winter-dark Reykjavík lights up like a rocket. Traditionally, New Year’s Eve has also been a time of magic, when humans could trick the hidden people into giving them gold.

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