Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Oh, I can’t believe it’s already this time again. Time for Reykjavík Culture Night! It’s a day I really enjoy and after going thoroughly through the whole program, I’ve finally decided what I want to see.
You see, the selection of activities and events during Reykjavík Culture Night is quite over whelming and since it’s only one day, you really have to choose carefully how you spend your time. And remember, almost everything is free so you can relax and drop in and out of various events. Reykjavík Culture Night starts early morning on Saturday the 19th of August and ends with a fireworks display around 11 PM.
The busiest day in Reykjavík
Before I go on, I would like to point out a few things. Reykjavík Culture Night is a super busy day and night in down town Reykjavík. So take a bus if you’re not within walking distance of the city center. It’s absolute hell trying to find parking spots during this day because so many roads are closed. And the bus is free so it’s a win-win situation. But if you do stay out till almost the crack of dawn, you will have to get a taxi. And that can be a long, long wait. So, be prepared, buy a late night snack at a food truck and interact with the locals freezing in line.
And since it’s a busy event, down town will be packed with Icelanders. So, maybe you won’t get to see everything you planned but don’t worry, there are so many things going on that you can always just wander around and find the next interesting stop.
Eat on a budget
Oh, and bring snacks, especially if you’re traveling with children. It’s hard to get seats at restaurants and cafés and the lines can be quite long. If waiting is not your thing, you can always sit down on a bench somewhere and enjoy some homemade refreshments from your bag. I, myself am always accompanied by a fleet of children of all ages, sort of like a modern day Von Trapp family, so homemade snacks and store bought beverages is my kind of thing. And it’s cheaper. And because I am a family person, my schedule is a bit colored by that.
And one more thing. If you are traveling with children, like me, make sure they know how to reach you if they get lost. Lost children will be taken to the parking lot behind the Parliament Building down town. In case of an emergency, always call 112. Now, let’s get back to the fun stuff.
I’m a huge fan of running so one of my favorite events of the year is the Reykjavík Marathon, which kicks off Reykjavík Culture Night. I still haven’t made up my mind yet if I should run this year or just be a loud member of the cheering squad somewhere along the race. Both are equally fun to me! You can choose from a few distances, 3 kilometers fun run, 10 kilometers, half marathon and marathon. Then, later in the day there’s a children’s run which is also loads of fun, if you’re in the company of kids that is.
The race starts early in the morning and goes on until the last runner finishes, so you have plenty of time to cheer, even if you’re not a morning person.
If running is not your thing you could start the day with visiting the Settlement Exhibition at Aðalstræti 16, which opens at 9 AM and stays open until 10 PM. There you can see two exhibits: a permanent exhibition on the settlement of Iceland and a family-friendly, temporary exhibition entitled Viking Animals – the secret of the settlement. Between the hours of 3 and 10 PM a team of Viking blacksmiths will be at the exhibit, doing some serious craft. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Starting at 10 PM, critically acclaimed multidisciplinary artist Ragnar Kjartansson opens his first museum show in Iceland, titled God, I feel so bad. The exhibition is at Hafnarhúsið and is open until 11 PM. It’s Ragnar’s ode to art and is manifested through live endurance performance, large-scale video installations, photography, sculpture, painting and drawing. I’m really excited about this one!
And for the little ones, the Little Circus will be at Klambratún from 11 AM to 12 PM, introducing guests to the magic of the circus.
At 12 PM, Dillon Music Festival begins at bar Dillon on Laugavegur 30. It’s a jam packed schedule until 10 PM, at this legendary rock bar, featuring performances from musicians such as Fræbblarnir, Berndsen and Blaz Roca. If you’re a whiskey lover I should also point out that Dillon has a pretty impressive selection of whiskey on offer, around 170 brands to be exact.
I’m also pretty psyched about the cryptic performance Stories through music at Laufásvegur 4, backyard which is from 12 to 2 PM. The description reads:
“The musical is a such a special form of storytelling because the actor is not the only one responsible for interpreting the character. The accompaniment reveals the characters hidden intention and even his subconscious thoughts.” I’m intrigued…
And since former Icelandic president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is one of my role models in life, I have to go to Veröld – Vigdís’ House at 12.30 PM where an exhibition about this amazing women will be open. For those of you who don’t know Vigdís, she was the world’s first democratically directly elected female president. You can find Veröld – Vigdís’ House at Brynjólfsgata 1. The building is open from 12.30 PM to 6 PM on Reykjavík Culture Night and from 1 to 5 PM on Sunday the 20th of August.
For more Viking related entertainment, be sure to check out the Viking Festival at the field in front of Tjarnarborg at Reykjavík pond from 1 to 6 PM.
Another cool event starting at 1 PM is Tasteless Gifts – An Exhibition at Flókagata 41. “Gifts from 21 years of international traveling will be exhibited for those who want to enjoy art from different countries with the host. The gallery will be open from 1 to 6 PM and together we will explore the boundaries of bad taste,” the program reads. How cool! I love bad taste!
Few things are more Icelandic than the accordion, so if you want to experience some good, ol’ fashioned local fun, make your way to Skólavörðustígur 19 between the hours of 2 and 5 PM where the Reykjavík Accordion Fan Club plays accordion music with free coffee, cocoa and kleinur, the Icelandic twisted donut.
And if you’re not full from the kleinur, you can take part in a Reykjavík Culture Night tradition, where locals invite guests to their homes for some waffles and coffee. The homes that are open for guests this year are: Óðinsgata 8b, which is the home of Reykjavík’s mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson, Þingholtsstræti 27, 3rd floor, Ingólfsstræti 19, Hellusund 3 and Grettisgata 26.
Then just casually drop by Laugavegur 25 and get a free hug, courtesy of Hlutverkasetur!
For some kid friendly entertainment, the Iceland Symphony offers a music filled children’s program at Harpa Concert Hall from 3 to 4 PM. The program sounds really fun:
“The Iceland Symphony’s many friends come to visit and hear music describing adventures, rogues, and the Dragon who lives inside us all. And who knows? Maybe a young and talented conductor will take the baton from Bernharður Wilkinson and lead the Iceland Symphony Orchestra!”
If you’re feeling really energetic and outgoing, I recommend you also check out the Carnival at Klapparstígur, corner of Hverfisgata, where you will find loads of cool beats and a giant water slide from 4 to 11 PM. Or you can test your vocal skills from 4 to 7 PM at the Outdoor Karaoke at the giant chessboard at Lækjargata, similar to the one held in the Mauerpark in Berlin, Germany.
And at 5 to 10 PM, Improv Ísland, an Icelandic improv group, will have an Improv Marathon, where a new audience is let in every 30 minutes. Be prepared for a huge turn-out at this event, since the improv group is massively popular, fun and unpredictable.
And because I have to head home early to put the kids to bed, I will listen to a bit of the Rás 2 Concert at Arnarhóll big stage, starting at 8 PM and ending at 11 PM. It’s an all Icelandic line-up, including our Eurovision star Svala and legendary pop band Síðan Skein sól.
Reykjavík Culture Night would not be complete without going to Austurbakki at Geirsgata 11 and enjoying the fireworks display which celebrates the ending of this amazing day and night.