Coming up this weekend: Verslunarmannahelgin

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This weekend Icelanders will be celebrating the Verslunarmannahelgi which is by far the biggest domestic travel and festival weekend in Iceland.

Verslunarmannahelgin which can be translated as the Shopkeepers weekend, is a labour day/bank holiday dedicated to Icelandic merchants and is celebrated every summer on the first Monday in August. Of course, only a small group of Icelanders really belong to the class of merchants but those that don’t still welcome this long weekend with a significant enthusiasm. And so, thousands of people get together and camp in the great outdoors to attend organized festivals with a lot of live music that are held all around the Island.

The festivals being held vary in size and so some of them are calmer ideal for families whereas others are quite busy and loud and do attract the younger that do like to party.

The biggest festival held during the Verslunarmannahelgi is without any doubt is the Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum (The Festival of the Nation in Westman Island) which is a festival held in Vestmannaeyjar, a small island on the southern part of Iceland. During this weekend, around 12.000 people travel from the mainland to the Island of 4000 inhabitants to enjoy the event which includes performances by famous and less famous musicians.

Other large festivals held during the weekend are the Ein með öllu (One with everything) festival held in the capital of the north, Akureyri, Mýrarboltinn (Mud-football and music) in the Westfjords and Síldarævintýrið (Herring adventure family festival) in Siglufjörður town. And then of course for those that do not prefer to go camping to enjoy live music and festivities they can just stay home in Reykjavík and attend the Innipúkinn (the couch potato) downtown Reykjavík music festival.

In conclusions, everyone should be able to find whatever suits them and enjoy the festivities during Verslunarmannahelgin.

Have a happy weekend!

Reykjavík in the rain

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Explore Reykjavík on a rainy day

Icelandic weather can be quite unpredictable, even in the summer. One moment may be sunny and the next it is rainy and windy. So don’t be surprised of the sudden weather changes and just look at it as a part of the Icelandic experience. Besides, there are still plenty of fun things to do and see in Reykjavík on a rainy day and here below we have gathered a few ideas. And if you just happen to need a raincoat you can pick one up at Reykjavík Raincoats.

Thermal Swimming pools
One big factor about Icelandic culture are our public geothermally heated outdoor swimming pools. We love them, even when it rains or snows. And what’s even better; it’s an inexpensive fun, approx 8 Euros for adults and FREE for children under 10 years old. Some of them even have a spa-like feel, with jacuzzis, steam rooms and saunas. Our favorite swimming pools in central Reykjavik are: Laugardalslaug, Vesturbæjarlaug and Sundhöll Reykjavíkur (this last one is indoors). After bathing with the locals make sure to have a hot dog as it an important part of the whole experience.

Omnom Chocolate Factory Tour
It´s hard to think of a more productive way of spending a rainy day then to learn the process and craft of chocolate making all the way from the cocoa bod to the chocolate bar. Tasting is of course included and believe me Omnom chocolate is AMAZING.

Kolaportið
Due to the unpredictability in Icelandic weather, the city’s flea market is located indoors and is open from 11-5 every weekend.
If you love vintage clothes, books and great food, visit Kolaportið located by the old harbor, as it’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon and get a great deal while you’re at it.

Whales of Iceland
The largest whale exhibition in Europe showcasing full size models of 23 whale species found in Icelandic waters. The displays are interactive and audio guides will give you various information of these incredible creatures. It’s almost like being underwater with these giant mammals of the sea. Once you’re done exploring you can sit down and have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while munching on a whale themed cake while trying out virtual reality glasses that let you swim with killer whales.

Libraries
Icelanders have a great appreciation of books and literature and we can’t think of a more cozy way to spend a rainy day then to read a good book. There are a number of libraries in Reykjavík and they have a lot to offer aside from just reading. To name a few: The Reykjavík City Library, The National Library of Iceland and The Nordic House Library.

Harpa
Located on the old harbor in Reykjvaík is Harpa concert and conference hall. It’s not only an architectural marvel but offers a lot of activities on a rainy day like variety of events and concerts. You can also take a guided tour of Harpa where you get to visit areas that are not open to the general public.

Happy Hour
After an active day of exploring Reykjavík in the rain you will without a doubt become quite thirsty. No worries because Icelanders love a good Happy hour. You can enjoy a drink with a spectacular view (over some of the sites you may have been visiting that day or maybe a rainbow across the horizon) at SKÝ Restaurant & Bar. Happy hour at SKÝ is every day from 16:00 to 18:00.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass..it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene.

Catch a selfie with the Icelandic Horse

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The Icelandic horse.
Originally from Mongolian descent, the Icelandic horse was moved here from Scandinavia by vikings more than 1000 years ago. It is aesthetically unique as it is shorter than other horse breeds. It also is built very strong and is conditioned to handle the worst kinds of weathers. It is generally easy to train and has a mild temperament which is one of the reasons the Icelandic horse is admired by horse lovers all over the world. There is just something very adorable about the Icelandic horse with those kind, intelligent eyes and shaggy long hair.

Horseback riding tours have been very popular tourist activity in Iceland for some years and still is, but now with the popularity of social media we are seeing another trend within our horse loving visitors which includes ‘selfies’ with the Icelandic horse.
When driving along route 1 you will often see travelers pulled over on the side of the road with the sole intention to catch a photographs of the Icelandic horse and some even try to feed them grass to lure them closer.

Sturlureykir horse petting and selfie stop.
Unfortunately due to the unforeseen weather and road conditions in Iceland it is not recommended to pull over aside the main road for the obvious reason of causing a road accident and it is also not popular by many horse owners and farmers that their horses are feed without permission. Some claim that it may ‘teach their horses bad habits’.
To solve this problem, a couple who breed and train horses in West Iceland decided to set up the perfect petting- and selfie-stop for horse lovers at their farm Sturlureykir in Borgarfjörður fjord! Sturlureykir has offered horse tours for more than two decades, but the new service will satisfy the needs of a broader group of travelers. For a small entrance fee visitors who might have a busy schedule can get a personal experience with horses and an Icelandic horse farm. The new meet-and-greet stable opened on June 1 and will remain open each day from 10-16, year-round.

Happy and Safe petting!

Extreme Chill Festival

Posted on Categories Events, ReykjavikTags

The 8th anniversary of the Icelandic music festival Extreme Chill will be held July 6th – July 9th in Reykjavík.

The festival is the first pure electronica festival in Iceland where both local and foreign musicians come together and perform under the inspiration of Icelandic nature. It caters to fans of underground Ambient, Electronica and Downtempo music.

The four day music festival has been held for seven years, 5 years in Hellissandur, a village on the mystical Snæfellsnes peninsula, one year in Berlin and last year in Vík í Mýrdal.

This year Extreme Chill will be held for the first time in Reykjavík and the reason for bringing the festival to the capital this year was simply because there aren’t many events in Reykjavík in the month of July.  There will be six different venues around the city: Húrra, Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík, Bíó Paradís, Mengi, Lucky Records & CenterHotel Miðgarður.

It will be the biggest to date featuring an impressive lineup of internationally renowned musicians such as The Orb (UK), Mixmaster Morris (UK), Courtesy (DK), Studnitzky (DE), Christopher Chaplin (UK), along with a host of talented local musicians: Jónas Sen, Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher, Yagya, Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Stereo Hypnosis, Reptilicus, Tonik Ensemble, Mikael Lind, SiGRÚN, Poco Apollo (Halldór Eldjárn) and many more.

Centerhotel Miðgarður will be hosting Extreme Chill on Saturday July 8th (14:00 – 18:00) with a great line up of Icelandic artists performing in a beautiful surrounding. Admission to this venue is FREE so we can´t wait to see you there!

Tickets to the festival are only 7,900 ISK, with a limited amount of festival passes being available this year at midi.is.