This guide will make the official tourism office ban Total Iceland for the rest of days and we will hardly be very popular with any municipalities either. But heck, you only live once right?
Summer 2013 is upon this small windswept island even if you still find heavy snow on some country roads and the sun itself shows little sign of shining upon us islanders.
If you have made any online inquiries about Iceland you will probably have noticed there is some kind of festival in almost every god-forsaken town, village and hamlet in Iceland. The lobster festival, the red-hair festival, the fast-car festival, the herring festival, the festival of hope and so on and so on.
Would you believe us when we say 95 per cent of the festivals here are utter crap and bollocks? Ok, let us explain.[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”right”]go to the country and make love, hay or whatever else comes to mind[/blockquote]
Roughly ten years ago the only festivals held in this country were outdoor festivals over the weekend of Verslunarmannahelgi. This particular weekend held the last weekend of July or the first of August, has for decades been designated the weekend to go to the country and make love, hay or whatever else comes to mind. Originally it was intended for folks working in stores and shops since hours were long and time off was not. Never mind that the only peoples NOT getting any days off are people working in stores and shops. We still partied like its 1999 an still do.
Then some bright individual had the idea of using other weekends of summer to lure tourists to specific towns or villages. This proved so effective that the next year a few more towns and villages had some kind of “special” weekend festival. Et cetera, et cetera.
Fast forward to 2013 and now hardly any place anywhere does not hold some kind of festival over summertime. The normal ones over Verslunarmannahelgi er still here but now people can also take part in 50 other town festivals all across the place.
While a few really are worth going to the vast majority is a failure for the very reason that they are simply held to make money for the locals authorities. There is little or no history behind the facade. No local pride and no local passion.
Because money is the primal theme behind all those festivals there is never the feeling of being really welcome. It is just fancy ribbons and fake smiles and come Monday nobody cares a hoot about any wandering tourists. Worse yet is the fact that because many of those festivals were arranged hastily, as not to miss out on tourist dollars, many of the festivals held bear absolutely no connection to anything remotely Icelandic. For comparison just imagine the town of Marbella in Spain suddenly holding a giant Viking festival. You instinctively know that festival is crap.
That being said there are exceptions and great exceptions at that. Here below are five Icelandic festivals outside of Verslunarmannahelgi we know for a fact are as genuine as possible. They are, in no particular order:
- ALDREI FÓR ÉG SUÐUR >> This music festival held yearly in Isafjordur in March is distinct for the reason that it became reality through the grassroot. The name stands for people that never went south and refers to musicians from the countryside that did not get sidetracked by leaving for Reykjavik capital. Local musicians themselves decided to throw a good party and lo and behold, today this is one of the absolute best places to be in March. Regardless of weather. Homepage here.
- HUMARHÁTÍÐIN >> In Hornfjordur town in the Southeast corner of Iceland people get together the last weekend of June or the first weekend of July for some time out and more importantly for some delicious lobster. This being the home of many lobster fishermen it is a natural venue and lots of things going on all weekend. Homepage here.
- FÆREYSKIR DAGAR >> In the small village of Olafsvik in Snaefellsnes in the West of Iceland there took place an unusual festival for a while where the townspeople held high their connection to peoples from the Farao Islands. Lots of those lovely islanders made their home here in times past and left quite a bit of legacy. However, due to excessive drinking the festival was cancelled a few years back although talk of reviving it again constantly takes place. Not to be consfused with a same name festival held irregularly in Stokkseyri village.
- SKJALDBORGARHÁTÍÐIN >> The small village of Patreksfjordur in the Westfjord area of Iceland holds a rather special short film festival every year and the event has been gathering momentum each year. The setting is weird indeed but it works like magic and the village being small the closeness is immense. Very well worth a visit. Homepage here.
- LUNGA >> If anyone doubts how the creative juices flow like mad rivers in smaller places all doubts will be laid to rest by visiting Seydisfjordur town over this creative festival. This rather peaceful place suddenly bursts with life and when the weather holds young peoples can be seen working on hundreds of different projects in most streets here. If the weather does not cooperate it all moves indoors and is no less fun to watch. Homepage here