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Iceland - Calendar
Hunt the otherworldly northern lights
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.
(Photo: Northern lights shine over Hraunfossum © VisitWestIceland, www.west.is)
Eat your heart out at the Food & Fun Festival
Chefs from around the world descend on Reykjavík every February, collaborating with local cooks to delight the taste buds of locals and tourists alike. The emphasis is to use fresh, local ingredients from Iceland’s water and land, ranging from fresh cod to tender Icelandic lamb steaks.
The eclectic design festival takes centre stage
Iceland’s rich and unique design scene is celebrated in the annual DesignMarch festival. Guests can check out everything from tanned fish-leather fashion accessories to inventive product design.
They’re cute, but don’t call them ponies!
Iceland’s annual Horse Expo comes to town every April when Icelandic breeders, local associations and tourists gather to appreciate the unique beauty of Iceland’s horses. When not at the week-long expo, take the opportunity to book a horse-riding excursion to explore Iceland’s natural beauty by horseback.
Unlike other horses, Icelandic horses have a fifth gait, called tölt, which occurs between a trot and a canter © VisitSouthIceland, www.south.is
Get your art on at the Reykjavík Art Festival
The annual Reykjavík Art Festival showcases projects from visual artists, graphic designers, dance performers, singers and everything in between. Since the festival’s inception in 1970, Iceland has hosted hundreds of artists from around the world. The programs are fresh, avant-garde and delightful.
Watch those whales
The summer is the best chance you have to see a number of whale species off the coasts of Iceland. Sign up for one of the many whale-watching tours on offer and try to catch a glimpse of fin whales, minkes, and orcas.
(Photo: The orca, or killer whale, is a prominent species in Iceland with an estimated population of 5,000 © VisitWestIceland, www.west.is)
Make the trek! Hiking 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), which will take you from hot springs to snow fields, glaciers, mountains and lava fields over the course of four breathtaking days of trekking.
Bebop at the Reykjavík Jazz Festival
Reykjavík’s annual Jazz Festival is one of the longest ongoing music festivals on the island. In its 25th year, the festival attracts names from around the globe with a particular emphasis on American jazz and local Icelandic musicians. It’s a rollicking good time!
Discover new talent at the Reykjavík International Film Festival
A diverse showing of films takes place every September at the Reykjavík International Film Festival. Festival-goers can check out movies from more than 40 countries, ranging from documentaries and animation to short films and dramas. Invited guests over the past couple of years have included director Jim Jarmusch and actress Tilda Swinton.
Remember John Lennon at Yoko Ono’s Peace Memorial
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 he was murdered. Yoko set up the tower on Videy Island in Reykjavík, in memory of her husband and his message of peace. Yoko has said she chose Iceland because the island is regularly voted the most peaceful country in the world.
Rock out at Iceland Airwaves
Deemed ‘the hippest long weekend on the annual music festival calendar’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, Iceland Airwaves (http://icelandairwaves.is) has been delighting music fans since 1999. Over the past few years, tourists and locals have been enjoying headline acts including the likes of German synth lords Kraftwerk, quirky American rock band The Flaming Lips, and hometown heroes Sigur Rós.
Welcoming the New Year Icelandic-style!
For such a small country, Icelanders go big on New Year’s Eve, bringing it in with tons of fireworks. Two of the best spots to watch the action in Reykjavík are at the Tjörnin pond near city hall or Hallgrímskirkja church when the sky above is lit up for nearly an hour.