Iceland Airways – Oct 30th – Nov 3rd
The most popular festival at the moment is Iceland Airwaves. It’s growing every year and the bill is a mixture of local talent, international up n’ coming bands, such as Savages and established big names (this year German legends Kraftwerk are playing).
Independence day -17th of June
On the 17th June 1944, Iceland become fully independent from the Danish crown. To coincide with the date each year there is a parade and concerts in downtown Reykjavik. It’s a real family celebration and many wear fancy dress for the occasion.
Braedslan music festival – July
On the other end of the scale is Braedslan. This festival takes place every July in the tiny village of Borgarfjörður Eystri in the far north-east corner of Iceland. Definitely not your usual music festival, the villagers make fish soup and pancakes to share with the 1000 odd hungry festival go-ers who watch the bands perform in an old herring shed. Despite the small, the festival attracts big names and Belle and Sebastian, Of Monsters and Men, Emiliana Torrini and Damien Rice have all appeared under the midnight sun at Braedslan. The atmosphere is something truly special.
Fashion / Shopping
Fashion-wise, Iceland is a hotbed of talented designers and some really exciting labels have been born on the island. Check out Nikita, Cintamani, 66 ° North, Volcano Design and Farmers Market to name just a few. Quality comes at a price and clothing tends to be more expensive here, but remember the saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Downtown Reykjavík is home to dozens of small independent shops and if you are really in the mood Smaralind is a modern shopping centre 10 mins from the capital (bus route 2).
The Reykjavik Grapvine
The free newspaper is an essential guide to getting the most out of your trip to Iceland. They list all the bars, restaurant, festivals, live music with descriptions and ratings. For those people here to have a few beers, there is also the ‘Happy Hour’ information that if you plan your evening properly will save you plenty of money too
Things you didn’t know about Iceland
- The tap water tastes better than any bottled water you can buy. Anywhere.
- Iceland has approximately the same population as Southampton (just over 300,000 people). Two-thirds of these live in the most Northern capital city in the world, Reykjavik.
- Nearly all Icelandic men have cool beards.
- In the phone book, Iceland lists its residents’ phone numbers by their first name.
- Apart from the glaciers, there isn’t actually much Ice in Iceland for most of the year. Many people think it got mixed up with Greenland, that has lots of ice, but not much green.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura
We stayed for two nights at the Marina and moved operations over to the Reykjavik Natura. Both are owned by Icelandair and share the same quirky genetic personality traits. It backs on to the domestic airport and is 5 minutes in a car from the centre of Reykjavik. Natura has living moss in jars on the reception and the decor is colourful, modern just ever so slightly crazy. There are more wooden statues dotted around to greet you. It’s a bit like IKEA on acid. Reykjavik Natura has a wonderful indoor Spa, if you go for a swim stick around for Lunch, the buffet is excellent.
Every Thursday night at 9pm the Hotel organises special ‘bed time’ story readings. Guests of all ages wear pyjamas and cosy up under sheepskin rugs with mugs of hot chocolate, while stories of Icelandic literature and other fables are told before bed. During the The Reykjavik International Literary Festival ( bokmenntahatid.is ) this September 11th-15th, International luminaries such as the UK playwright Rachel Joyce, Dutch author Herman Koch and US writer Madeline Miller will be donning their onesies to read at the Hotel. It’s one of those things that would seem bizarre anywhere else, but for some reason here it seems completely normal.
Two nights at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura costs from £128per person based on three people sharing a deluxe/ family room, including breakfast (based on travel this September)
We barely scratched the surface of Iceland during our short stay and on the journey home my daughter was already planning where to visit when we go back again. If you have kids, being close to so many different kinds of natural phenomenon in one place can only serve to pin-prick their interest in nature and the world we live in. My daughter and I had a special Geology class from one of the lecturers at Reykjavik University while we were there. She’s only seven, but is already an avid semi-precious stone collector and the two had some surprisingly common ground when it came to their interest in rocks. His main job is studying the Volcanoes and the atmosphere, according to him conditions in the coming years will be perfect to see the Northern Lights at their most spectacular. So next time we visit there is a good chance it will be dark when we arrive. Now there’s something new for a start. .
Flight time from London to Keflavík is approx 3 hours. Flights from £194 pp return from Heathrow with Icelandair, for more info visit www.icelandair.co.uk