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Iceland in May – everything you need to know



    Posted on
    Monday, May 1, 2017

    Goodbye April with all your rain and snow! Hello May, with a better chance of decent weather and happier times. This is why you should travel to Iceland in May.

    So, let’s begin with the obvious. Iceland is less touristy in May than for example June, July and August. So, all the main tourist attractions will be less crowded, even though most of them will be pretty packed. So it’s actually a pretty good idea to visit Iceland in May in many aspects.

    You can explore all day in May. Wow, that rhymes!

    The weather is nice in May (sort of)

    Another big bonus is that the rainiest and windiest season is over. That doesn’t mean that we won’t get any wind or rain in May – we’re not that lucky! So bring some rain and windproof gear. But the weather is nicer and May is actually my favorite month of the year. Summer, or what we Icelanders at least call summer, is right around the corner and you can sense the spring in people’s steps. The harsh winter and the sorry excuse for a spring is over and now it’s time for some fun!

    16 hours of daylight

    The day is getting pretty long, almost 16 and a half hours, so that means we have more sunlight for exploring. So, you can easily hop on longer tours, to for example Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon or Snæfellsnes peninsula, and have daylight the entire time. Or you can go out partying and have the daylight totally mess with your brain when you walk out of a bar at midnight. But don’t let the daylight fool you. The average temperature in May is 6,49°C or 43.68°F and it can go below freezing, so pack layers!

    The puffins are pretty, darn cute!

    Little lambs and puffins

    May is also a great time to visit Iceland if you’re an animal lover. Lambing season usually starts in the former half of May so you can expect seeing little lambs frolicking around if you’re driving around the countryside. If you’re in Reykjavík, I suggest you visit the Family Park and Zoo in Laugardalur to pet these little bundles of joy!

    And we can’t forget the puffins. The puffin season usually starts in mid-April and ends in mid-August so May is a very good time to spot them. There are plenty of places in Iceland where you can observe puffins. The Westman Islands and Látrabjarg in the Westfjords are probably the most famous locations, but you can also spot puffins around Reynisfjara black beach and on Grímsey Island to name a few places.

    Book a puffin tour here if you’re staying in Reykjavík!

    Something for art lovers

    May is good for art.

    If entertainment is what you’re after, there is plenty of that in Iceland in May.

    The month kicks off with a public holiday, but on the 1st of May we, like many other nations, celebrate International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day. It’s a celebration of laborers and the working classes and you can find these celebrations all around the country. A few years ago everything was closed on this day to support the workers but that has all changed. You don’t have to worry about shops being closed, but some have limited opening hours. Some public swimming pools will however close their doors on the 1st of May.

    Reykjavík Arts Festival, a biennial multidisciplinary festival, is on in May and you can find various cultural events all around Reykjavík. Perfect for art lovers!

    Another celebration of the arts will be on the annual multicultural day in Reykjavík on May 27th. The day is being celebrated for the 9th time and starts at 1 PM with a march from Hallgrímskirkja church to Harpa concert hall. Various events will take place in Harpa following the march and you can see the program here.

    You might also like the craftsmanship and design show in Reykjavík City Hall which starts on the 4th of May and runs until the 7th of May. Various items will be on display, for example children’s wear, leather products, foot wear and ceramics. The show is open from 12 PM to 7 PM on all the days that it’s running.

    If you’re a fan of electronic arts and media you can go to the RAFLOST festival which will take place from the 25th until the 27th of May in various locations in Reykjavík. The program hasn’t been announced yet so stay tuned with updates on the festival’s website.

    You can also buy tickets to the Northern Lights Center for only 1600 ISK.

    The return of Rammstein

    One of the biggest events in Iceland in May is without a doubt the return of German rock band Rammstein. The band will perform a concert in Kórinn sports hall in Kópavogur on the 20th of May but Rammstein has a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. The band memorably performed here in June of 2001, selling out two shows in a heartbeat. Now they are performing in a bigger venue so you can still find tickets on sale here.

    And since we’re on the topic of hard rock, death metal fans can rejoice in Iceland in May because Reykjavík Deathfest is on the 12th and 13th of May at club Gaukurinn in down town Reykjavík. Among bands that will perform are Swiss metal band Virvum, the legendary rockers Cryptopsy from Canada and locals in Andlát. Get your tickets here.

    Lovely tunes and low-brow entertainment

    If you like more mellow music you can check out local artist Mugison, an extremely popular musician in Iceland. His concerts usually sell out and he’s sold albums by the truck loads. You can catch him at Bæjarbíó in Hafnarfjörður on May 26th and funnily enough you can still buy tickets.

    And for some local low-brow entertainment, pop band Í svörtum fötum (In black clothing) will try to rock your socks off at club SPOT in Kópavogur on May 6th. You might not like their music but it’s an excellent chance to see the common man and woman in Iceland get drunk out of their minds, behave inappropriately to say the least and sing along to songs you wish were never written.

    Party for men and a sing-along

    There are also some niche events taking place in Iceland in May. On May 27th there will be a men’s only party at Ægisgarður in Reykjavík. The party is strictly for men and it’s aim is to add more diversity to the local gay scene while creating a safe, fun and friendly space for gay, bi and trans men. Tickets are available online for 18 USD and at the door for 25 USD.

    All Rocky Horror Picture Show fans will gather on May 26th at 8 PM because there’s a sing-along screening of the movie at Bíó Paradís cinema on Hverfisgata in Reykjavík . You can even wear a costume if you like!

    How about partying in Iceland with a local guide and fun people? Click here for more info!

    Laugh your ass off

    You can also catch a stand-up show in May. One of the UK’s most popular comedians, Michael McIntyre, kicks off his new tour, Big World Tour, in Iceland in Laugardalshöll sports hall on the 4th of May. Believe it or not, there are still tickets available!

    Another less known comedian, but a huge hit in Iceland is Australian Jonathan Duffy. He has a new show on in Tjarnarbíó theater in Reykjavík called An evening with Jono Duffy, which he performs on May 5th, 10th and 25th. You should know that Jono is not afraid of anything and intentionally crosses a lot of lines. That’s why we love him! Get your tickets now.

    Running and camping

    Feel like camping?

    If you want to do some exercise while in Iceland, you can join the annual Neshlaup run which will be run for the 30th time Saturday May the 6th at 11 AM. The run starts at Seltjarnarnes swimming pool and you can choose from three running distances: 3,25 kilometers, 7,5 kilometers or 15 kilometers.

    Then there’s also the Icelandair Run on Thursday May 4th at 7 PM. That’s also an annual thing, being run now for the 23rd time. The run takes place around Reykjavík Airport as usual and the running distance is 7 kilometers. Online registration is open until midnight Wednesday the 3rd but you can also register at the event itself between 11.30 AM and 1.30 PM and 4 PM to 6.45 PM on race day.

    And if you’re visiting Iceland towards the end of May, the family’s camping weekend is on May 26th to May 28th at Úlfljótsvatn lake in the south of Iceland. There you can camp free of charge and there are lots of activities and events for the whole family to enjoy.

    Rent a car here to explore Iceland.

    I hope everyone has found something to their liking on this list of things to do in Iceland in May. If not, hit me up on mustsee@mustsee.is and I can try to find something to blow your mind.

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