Festivity in a Distinctive Setting

The cruise season in Iceland is from early May and stretches through to end October. During that period there’ll be something going on of interest both in the capital and around the country. Sometimes it’s a familiar festivity in a distinctive setting, and sometimes it is a charming local custom that will grab your imagination.

For further information or to look up a particular date or period please use the events calendar at:  http://www.visitreykjavik.is

Trout fishing season in lakes and rivers around the country.

Whale watching season. With thousands of whales just off its shores, Iceland offers more chances of sightings than just about anywhere else in the world.

Bird time. Puffins, Arctic terns and rarer migrant birds zoom in from the south, bringing summer with them.

The annual Reykjavík Arts Festival will be held from May 10–26, with a varied programme of cultural events with leading Icelandic and visiting artists. See www.artfest.is.

Salmon fishing season. Clean air and rivers make Iceland one of the best places in the world for anglers. Make sure to book your rods well in advance.


  • Festival of the Sea. Based on the old Icelandic tradition of Seamen’s Day, The festival runs the first weekend of June and honours those who make their living from the sea. However, the festival has been modernised of late. It now includes numerous cultural activities, parades, arts and crafts activities for kids, food fairs, and sailing competitions, and new residents of Iceland are given the opportunity to share their unique cultures.
  • Viking Festival in Hafnarfjörður. More than 100 Vikings from ten different nations get together with about 60 Icelandic Vikings for a weekend of endless happenings and entertainment.
  • National Day, June 17th. Icelanders take to the streets to celebrate independence (since 1944). Colourful ceremonies followed by parades, street theatre, sideshows and outdoor dancing in the midnight sun, all over the country.
  • Summer solstice. Gatherings to celebrate the magic of the midnight sun on the longest day of the year.
  • Arctic Open International Golf Tournament. In Akureyri, just south of the Arctic Circle, tee off at midnight in bright sunshine and play through the night in a marvellous natural setting. Open midnight-sun tournaments are also held in Reykjavík and the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). See www.arcticopen.is and  www.golf.is.

Marathon time. Fresh air and scenery that’ll take your breath away, including: Mývatn Midnight Sun Marathon; Highland Marathon (55 km of uninhabited landscapes between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk nature reserves, South Highlands); and Reykjavík International Marathon (several distances around the city. See www.reykjavikmarathon.is


  • Bank Holiday weekend. On the first weekend in August, almost everyone goes off to camp at festivals around the country – everything from family events to wild rock festivals.
  • Flight of the Puffling. A sight not to be missed in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) off the south coast, when millions of baby puffins leave their nests and take wing for the first time.
  • Gay Pride. Gays and lesbians come out in force and style to parade and party in Reykjavík.
  • Culture Night in Reykjavík. To mark Reykjavík’s anniversary on August 18, bookstores, museums and galleries stay open into the Saturday night nearest that date; artistic events are staged in the streets and at cafés, bars, and restaurants all over the capital, culminating in a massive fireworks display.

Sheep round-up. Colourful and lively time with plenty of song and merriment all around the countryside. Held at sorting pens where farmers herd in the sheep they have rounded up from summer grazing in the wilds.