Below, you’ll find some of Iceland’s most important events. Consider planning your trip so that you can attend one of them.

January 6th – Tþrettándinn

To mark the official end of the Christmas festivities and the start of a new year, Icelanders build bonfires, set off fireworks, and sing traditional songs in public squares, while children sculpt mythical Icelandic creatures from snow and ice. Often the skies light up with the colorful flashes of the Northern Lights at this time of year and temperatures plummet well below freezing.

January 19th – 25th – Tþorrablót

This annual mid-winter Viking festival has been celebrated across Iceland for more than 1,000 years. Communities come together and visitors are welcomed into the celebrations. Traditional Viking foods (for those brave enough to try them) including pickled ram’s testicles, Hakarl (putrefied shark), and boiled sheep’s head are often shared around huge public bonfires, and traditional Icelandic songs are sung. The Tþorrablót festival offers an insight into the unique culture of this winter wonderland.

February – Ash Wednesday (date varies) – Öskudagur

Much like Halloween in many parts of the world, during the Ash Wednesday Festival, Icelandic children dress up in traditional Icelandic costumes and run around towns and villages singing. In return, residents give them local cream puffs (bollur).

March 1st – Beer Day

To commemorate the legalization of alcohol above 2.2% in 1989, Icelanders take the whole day off on March 1 and drink alcohol above 2.2% with friends and family in the local pubs and taverns. A favourite among locals is Brennivin, an herbal schnapps liquor at 40% volume.

April – Easter Week – End of winter celebrations

Icelanders take a five-day holiday from Holy Thursday to Easter Monday to spend time with family. Locals welcome visitors into their homes to share smoked lamb and huge chocolate eggs. In Ísafjörður in the west of the island, the “I Never Went South” rock music festival wakes the town from its winter slump.

Mid-May – Reykjavik Arts Festival

For 16 days in mid-May the capital city comes to life with artists, theatre, music and crafts. World famous singers join their lesser-known Icelandic counterparts and offer free concerts in Reykjavik’s parks and open areas.

June 1st weekend of June – Festival of the Sea

Fishermen take part in rowing and strongman competitions around Reykjavik, and freshly caught seafood and brewed beers are sold at reduced prices to celebrate those who make a living from the sea.

Mid-June – Viking Festival

For 10 days in mid-June, the western town of Hafnarfjörður goes back in time, with streets decorated with sheepskin tapestries, Viking hordes roaming the streets in search of victims, and pitched battles with British and German Christian competitors. Nowhere else in the world celebrates the Vikings quite like this.

June 17th – Independence Day

Iceland’s Independence Day marks a large celebration across the country, and its 1944 secession from Danish rule. A parade marches through the main street of cities and towns, followed by music and local celebrations.

1st weekend of August – Verslunarmannahelgi

Despite its long name, the main theme of this event is simple: to party. Icelanders retreat to the Westman Islands to camp out all weekend, listen to live concerts, drink lots of alcohol, and dance around a campfire.

End of September – Réttir

Literally meaning “round-up” – is just that: the time of year when thousands of sheep and wild horses are rounded up for winter. It is a sight to behold.

Mid-October – Iceland Airwaves

Perhaps Iceland’s most famous music concert, this annual event attracts crowds from across the world who come to hear Iceland’s best indie and alternative bands.

December – Christmas

Christmas Season – Iceland only gets about four hours of daylight around Christmas, so the streets of towns and villages flicker with candle lights and the glow of the Northern Lights. For 13 nights leading up to Christmas, children leave a shoe out at night and wake up to find small presents left by the “yuletide lads,” Iceland’s version of Santa Claus.

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