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Iceland Mag

Culture

The biggest bank holiday weekend festival is in Westman Islands

By Staff

  •  Þjóðhátíð festival Between 11,000 and 16,000 people, or nearly 4-times the island’s population, attend the festival each year. 

 

Þjóðhátíð Festival is by far the largest of the Verslunarmannahelgi bank holiday weekend with between 11,000 and 16,000 people (nearly 4-times the island’s population) attending each year. Whilst islanders couldn’t travel to the mainland back in the 1800s, residents on the mainland eagerly flock out to the island and away from the mainland. 

Back in 1874, the residents of the Westman Islands were unable to travel to the mainland to celebrate the 1,000-year anniversary of the Settlement Celebrations due to bad weather. Instead, they held their own celebration, which lead to a long-living tradition of Þjóðhátíð Festival the first weekend of August every year. 

Officially, Þjóðhátíð starts on Friday (August 1st 2014) and last until Sunday that same weekend. A number of people like to get a headstart on the festivities and arrive up to five days in advance to hangout, guarantee the best camping spot, and enjoy the things the Westman Islands have to offer. 

If you’re a first time visitor, it’s suggested that you arrive well rested and perhaps consider getting a hotel room for the weekend. The camping ground is located at the heart of the action and if you don’t plan on staying awake for three days straight, pitching a tent might be a bad idea. It would, however, put you right in the mix of things like being hooked up to Þjóðhátíð-IV. 

There’s a number of concerts over the course of the weekend and it’s perhaps the biggest annual music festival in the country. It’s not just about the music however, as a variety of activities are available at all hours of the day, bridging the gap between generations. Highlights include a massive bonfire on the Friday night, mind-blowing firework show on Saturday night, and most impressive of all: an eruption of red torches that light up the valley and represent the Island’s volcanic flames.

Remember that to get to the Westman Islands you’ll need to book a place on the Herjólfur ferry or book a flight – tickets to the event may be in abundance, but the ferry and the airplane can only hold a limited amount of people at a time. Book sooner rather than later so you don’t get stuck on the Island in a broken tent, five days after the festivities are over and done with. Being the first one to arrive is fun; but being the last one to leave is a bit of a bummer.

Tickets to the festival are on sale and can be bought at dalurinn.is.

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