This weekend marks one of the biggest events of the year in Iceland: Verslunarmannahelgi. Traditionally for merchants, it's the equivalent of a bank holiday weekend that's celebrated with festivals all over the country!
If you've already seen Icelanders travelling to a Verslunarmannahelgi festival this week, it's probably Þjóðhátíð in the Westman Islands. This is *the* festival of the weekend, the Glasto of Iceland. Þjóðhátíð first started in 1874 as an alternative to travelling to the mainland for celebrations, it now attracts about 16,000 people every year (for context, the population of the Westman islands the rest of the year is 4,000). The event starts with bonfires and fireworks, and ends with a mass singalong led by Westman celebrity Arni Johnsen. Singing in the valleys with atmospheric red torches and other spectacular visual effects make this an unmissable event in any international festival-goer's planner!
If you'd prefer a more sporty weekend, head to Akureyri for the Iceland Summer Games. Triathlon events, sea swimming, mountain hiking- you name it, this festival brings together Iceland's games and sports for a brilliantly family friendly weekend! Like Þjóðhátíð, the weekend ends with a firework display- and if you're lucky you'll catch a glimpse of the midnight sun.
Innipkukinn is Reykjavik's music festival offering for the weekend. Past artists include Of Monsters and Men, so this is your chance to see Icelandic music which could be the next great international hit! This is the best option if you're not a fan of camping- just stroll down the road from your hotel and you're bound to hear something amazing.
There are so many more festivals this weekend- pretty much every town will be celebrating, so make sure you keep an eye out for a street party! There's a herring festival in Siglufjordur, swamp soccer (which is exactly what it sounds like) in Isafjordur, and a youth-camp inspired weekend called "Happy Days" in Vatnaskogur... what festivals have you seen or taken part in this weekend? Let us know!
Happy Verslunarmannahelgi from everyone at All Iceland!