A nyone visiting Iceland in the year of our lord 1995 would have a heck of a time finding any local festival to throw care to the wind for a few hours and enjoy some different kind of locality. Now you will be overwhelmed.
Team Total Iceland has written about the recent explosion of festivals on this windswept little island. Nowadays, neither a shithole nor city here does not organise some kind of special attraction to get but a fraction of free-flowing tourist money.
Wholly understandable, as tourists are the new local Klondike and most places here have little to offer anyways. So they make up stuff and call it a festival.
Problem is, most of these are as hollow as the evidence behind the Iraq war and the frantic run of towns and villages to partake has had the opposite effect. There are simply too many to choose from and even those that do have some merit and might hold interest for a visitor just fall between the cracks so to speak.
One festival of note we believe might pique the interests of foreigners is the one they call Franskir dagar, French Days, which is held over a weekend in the tiny village of Faskrudsfjordur in the East of Iceland.
Unlike many others this party has a solid foundation and revolves around celebrating and commemorating French fishermen that used this tiny village as their main base while fishing here over a century ago. Sadly, back then safety was of little concern and the seas around here claimed untold lives of those Frenchmen.
Now, none from team Total Iceland has a degree in festival planning but we do have a sense of what constitutes a fun party. Alas, French Days is not it.
We specifically made an effort to join in the fun in July 2014. Truth be told, while we take our hats off to a tiny village trying to make waves, French influences were almost non-existent over the weekend in question. Apart from a rather lame bicycle race called Tour de Faskrudsfjordur, a petanqé competition and some local artists performing a couple of French ballads there was nothing here one cannot find in the other countless festivals around the country.
Don´t get us wrong. Not horrible by any stretch but much worse than expected. Would it be so hard to make a few phone calls to the French Embassy, entice French seafood chefs to demonstrate their brilliance or invite some French vineyard owners along with stocks of their very best wines? Offer anything else than Chinese-made „Icelandic“ souvenirs at the market? And where´s the party? Say what you will about the French but they have passion and heart about lots of stuff not excluding having a blast. But this time the only artists on stage were old-school locals bands no one had heard of.
After this experience we would recommend stopping by here as long as you are traveling the East and a night here will certainly not ruin the trip either. But waiting for something special or making an effort to show up is a check for disappointment.