Happy and horrible at Holmavik in Iceland
It is not a popular stop for tourists. The place is both quite a detour from the Ring Road circling this island and is also just another small fishermen´s village with not a lot interesting on show. But they do have a great sense of humor.
The place is Holmavik on the eastern side of the Westfjord peninsula of Iceland. Indeed, it is the only settlement on that part of the Westfjords. Nothing to write home about really. Sure, the surroundings are nice but the same can be said of any place in this country.
As we have written about before, just about any place here with more than two inhabitants has in recent years created its own yearly festival in the hope of attracting both locals and tourists. This phenomenon spread rapidly in just ten years time or so but as we have also pointed out; festivals with little or no roots in the area is hardly likely to draw large crowds.
Holmavik is no exception. In 2004 the local authorities launched a weekend festival called Happy Days or Hamingjudagar in the local language. The idea being that visitors would celebrate happiness and hopefully sigh with pleasure the whole weekend. We could all use some more happiness but this is pretty superficial in any sense of the word. Among the “happy” things to do: soccer tournament, dance lessons, a circus show as well as a few smaller concerts with little known local artists. Not really anything happy at all if you ask us.
However, now the villagers have created something really genuine and fascinating. They call it the Horror Days and it has nothing to do with horror per se. The name relates to a real phenomena of Icelanders hating the month of February. February is as horrible as they come. Winds are rampant, the rays of the sun not yet lightened the sky after wintertime, folks are bogged down with credit card debts after Christmas spending and just too many months until spring starts to make things right again. Doubly so in a tiny village far from the capital of Reykjavik. The mood is as dark as can be.
Now, here is something with some roots and not just in Holmavik but overall in Iceland. Everybody agrees February is a stinker. Which is why we wholeheartedly recommend Horror Days, Hörmungardagar in the local language, taking place in Holmavik in February of course. Hats off too for having a bit of humor and a touch of irony too. Without which there would be no people in Scandinavia at all.
You can thus, by visiting, get to experience a lot of horribly boring things here. Take boring walks, listen to boring tales from the area and enjoy some company in your depression. Fantastic idea we think.
Horror Days take place in February and expectation is so high the village tourism center does not even mention this brilliant festival. If and when they do, you find information here.