Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Culture

Þjóðhátíð in Vestmannaeyjar islands: Party the weekend away!

By Staff

  • Great fun Sing-alongs, bonfires, fireworks, and a whole lot of fun—That’s what you get when you attend the Þjóðhátíð festival in Heimaey, Westman Islands. Photo/Imageoniceland.com

The first weekend of August is known as “Verslunarmannahelgi,” the businessman’s holiday, in Iceland. Traditionally, businesses give their personnel the first Monday in August off, a custom that continues to this day.

The three-day-long bank holiday is celebrated all over Iceland, but no one celebrates to the extent that the inhabitants of the Westman Islands do, with between 11–16,000 people (nearly 4 times the Island’s population) attending the festival annually.

Read more: The Westman Islands are the Pompeii of the North

The history of Þjóðhátíð (the national festival) dates back to 1874, when, because of bad weather, the residents of the Westman Islands were unable to travel to the mainland to join in the celebration of the 1,000-year anniversary of the Settlement of Iceland. Instead, they held their own celebration that led to the long-lasting tradition of Þjóðhátíð.

Highlights include a massive bonfire on Friday night, a mind-blowing fireworks 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. 

This year’s musical line-up includes pop star Páll Óskar, Júníus Meyvant, FM Belfast, and Maus, to name only a few. 

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