Icelandic Music Scene & Venues

Posted on Categories Events, Festivals, Iceland, Music, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , , , , , ,

 

Photo by Sigurður Ástgeirsson https://www.flickr.com/photos/icelandairwaves/26332376329/in/album-72157669883815597/

The Icelandic music scene is thriving and has been for years. You probably heard about the big names such as Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Rós, Emilíana Torrini, Kaleo, and of course Björk! Although, there are many more Icelandic artists to discover and adopt! You can find many different venues and events, here in Reykjavik, to discover what the local talent has to offer! This article will help you chose the perfect spot for you to enjoy! Also, find at the end of the article some insights about CenterHotels off-venue concerts for the popular Iceland Airwaves Festival!!!

 

Punk Museum (Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Located in what was previously a public toilet, the Punk Museum opened its door in 2016. Dedicated to honour the Nordicpunk scene of the late 70’s to the early 90’s, this tiny museum is not lacking in personality! The host, Álfur, an original punk, will kindly present the different reliques from the area; posters, vinyls. instruments, clothes, pictures, name it! Interesting visit to do in Reykjavik to understand from where came several known artist of  the Icelandic musical scene, such as Björk and The Sugarcubes.

 

 

Kaffi Vínyl (Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík)

Kaffi Vinyl is located on the new upcoming trendy street of Hverfisgata. They claim to be the first “Vegetarian Only” resto-bar in Reykjavik and for that matter, offer an appetizing selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Not only they excel in dreamy veggie food, but they also offer an impressive wine selection and on top of all, vinyl records and music prestations!

You really can’t miss it! With windows from one edge to the other, Kaffi Vinyl offers a very chic atmosphere, but mostly an excellent view for the ones passing by! Once you receive a feel of what is happening inside of the Kaffi Vinyl, you can’t help yourself but to enter and have a seat. Pouring an excellent vibe with records playing the whole day, the hip urban style of the bistro is clearly enhanced by the incredible record collection that the owner Ymir (DJ Sir Dance A-Lot) has been collecting through 40 years; and available for you to acquire! You can also catch live music performance on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and other special events! From Dj sets to live indie rock bands, passing by live jazzy jamming, the chic and welcoming atmosphere of Kaffi Vinyl will know how to charm you.     

 

Húrra (Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavík)

Near the old harbour, Húrra is a casual bar and concert venue in downtown Reykjavík. Metal fans know this is the place to be for a good concert. People enjoying electronic music, jazz, rock and burlesque shows will also find what they’re looking for. They even organize karaoke nights! They mostly welcome major locals bands and Djs during the weekend and always host great Jazz nights on Mondays! Known for its dark, yet hipping atmosphere, the cultural elite and hipsters visit this place frequently knowing they’ll find a good ambiance, a groovy feel as well as good prices of a large selection of tap beer and extended happy hour until 10 PM!

Overall, this bar full of surprises offers bands playing a more alternative and out of the box music. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and it’s a good place to meet new people.

If you enter Húrra and see mostly men’s clothes, then you’re in the wrong place! There is also a clothing store called Húrra Reykjavik selling mostly men’s clothing!

 

Mengi (Óðinsgata 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Mengi is a small concert venue and art center located on Óðinsgata operated, created and managed by artists. Their focal point is experimental, contemporary and classical music. You can go there for live music, performances, art, exhibitions and conferences. It’s a meeting ground for creative minds, and often shows hosted at Mengi are an amalgam of different genres and art forms. Mengi also runs a recording studio, record label and record store.

 

Harpa (Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík)

Harpa is a large concert hall and conference center housing the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the offices of the Icelandic Opera, who also perform there. It has four concert halls, and meeting rooms for groups of all sizes. It’s a popular venue for classical performances, but Harpa also hosts all kinds of live concerts, art exhibitions and theater shows. Located on Reykjavík’s coastline, it is an impressive landmark with a beautiful light show in winter.

 

Gaukurinn (Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavík)

Gaukurinn is an inclusive bar, welcoming people from all walks of life. Go here for rock and roll, electronic and pop concerts, drag shows, poetry nights, pub quizzes, karaoke, and stand-up comedy. Their program reflects their general motto of celebrating diversity and ensuring a friendly and open space for everyone. And if you’re hungry, you can grab delicious vegan junk food at Veganæs, a small joint serving burgers and more inside Gaukurinn until 21:00 on all days except Monday.

 

12 Tónar (Skólavörðustígur 15, 101 Reykjavík)

12 Tónar is a small record store that has so much to offer! You can expect not only an impressive knowledge from the friendly, cultured staff and, but you can also enjoy a coffee while browsing through their diverse selection of music, magazines, rock litterature and discover some art exhibitions. Opened in 1998, they have been producing growing locals artists and bigger figures of the music scene.

They released, since 2003, more than 70 albums of different musical genres and have been licensed also in Japan, US and South Korea!  Every now and then, the special record store also hosts concerts, especially during the summer, when their charming garden turns into the ideal venue for all kind of music!

Not surprising that the store has been made the Number Two record store you must see before you die by BuzzFeed! “While it might not be impressive in size, it is incredibly influential and serves as a meeting place for musicians like Björk and Sigur Rós. PSSSST.. Also, Björk is a fan of this place!  

 

Airwaves (more than 15 different venues)

Half way between North America and Europe, the Iceland Airwaves Festival has been bringing together the most northern emerging local talents and established progressive international artists in a diverse selection of venues around Reykjavik. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the 4 days and nights festival starts officially on Wednesday the 7th of November until the 10th.  

This year, the festival will host more than 240 acts from 25 different countries in 15 official venues. Within the official venues you will find, amongst others, Gaukurinn, Húrra, and Harpa.

For those who want to participate in the music festivity but do not wish to purchase the festival pass, you can also find some amazing off-venue concerts. CenterHotels is a proud partner of the Iceland Airwaves and will host three off venue concerts this year at Ísafold Restaurant, Jörgensen Kitchen and Ský Restaurant & Bar. See our Off-Venue Schedule and Line-Up here. 

Come by and enjoy some good Icelandic music and fun bar offers.

Reykjavik celebrates it’s birthday

Posted on Categories Activities, Culture, Events, Iceland, Music, ReykjavikTags , ,

Get ready for the most happening Saturdays of the year in Reykjavik this Saturday, August 18th.

This Saturday we celebrate the birthday day of Reykjavík city and it brings almost a third of the entire population of Iceland onto the streets to celebrate.

The day starts with Reykjavík Marathon which kicks off at 9:00 on Lækjargata, downtown Reykjavik.  Following the marathon, Reykjavik Culture Night will take place with a long program of cultural events throughout the rest of the day and night. The events take place all throughout the city, on the streets and squares, in art exhibitions and in peoples backyards. You will come across art, food and live music events all through central Reykjavík. The public parking lot at Hverfisgata 20 will be turned into an LA style lounge top bar, there will be a Hip Hop festival on Ingólfstorg square and DJ Margeir (one of the countries most popular DJ’s) will host his yearly Karnival party on the corner of Hverfisgata and Klapparstígur.  

The event peaks with a concert by Arnarhóll at 20:00 and ends with a ‘not to be missed’ fireworks show over Harpa and the old harbour at 23:00.

For those who would like to observe the festivities from a comfortable distance, SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, located at Centerhotel Arnarhvoll has an incredible view over Harpa and the old harbor.

Keep in mind that most streets in and around downtown Reykjavik will be blocked off, but who wants to leave the city during the cities greatest celebration of the year.

Verslunarmannahelgin, the Icelandic Labor Day Weekend

Posted on Categories Activities, Culture, Events, Festivals, Iceland, Music, NatureTags , , , , ,

The first weekend in August, just a regular weekend for you perhaps, but for Icelanders this is our biggest festival weekend of the year and the most travelled one. We call it Verslunarmannahelgi or (Labor Day Weekend), a three day long weekend that many people use to get out of town to different camp sights around the country, many of which offer outside festivals with live music and entertainment for the whole family.

Some popular festivals held on this big party weekend are Þjóðhátíð í eyjum held in Westman Islands, Ein með Öllu in Akureyri, Mýrarboltinn in Bolungarvík and Innipúkinn in Reykjavík to name just a few.

 

Þjóðhátíð – Westman Islands

The biggest festival of the weekend and an event that many look forward to all year round is Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum.  It starts on Thursday and ends on Monday and is held in the Westman Islands.  With a population of barely 4.000 inhabitants, the population of the island rises to 16.000 during Þjóðhátíð.

It is a long fun filled weekend with all sorts of entertainment, two music stages, big Sunday night bonfire and firework show.  People gather in the valley in their ‘lopapeysa’ (Icelandic wool sweater) and sing along to classic songs, both in Icelandic and English.

 

Ein með Öllu – Akureyri

A family festival held in Akureyri (the capital of the north). You can expect the city to be full of live with entertainment for the whole family, concerts and a firework show on Sunday night.

 

Mýrarboltinn – Bolungarvík

Mýrarboltinn or ‘Swamp soccer’ is a popular football match held in Bolungarvík in the North West fjords of Iceland.  The match takes place on a mud covered field so get ready to get mud filthy. Everyone can sign up for the match and in addition to the football there is live music and party throughout the weekend.

 

Innipúkinn – Reykjavík

Will you be in Reykjavík for the weekend? Don’t worry..there is a music festival held in Reykjavík as well called Innipúkinn.
Innipúkinn is a small indoor music festival held in Reykjavík on Labor Day weekend at music venues like Húrra and Gaukur á Stöng both located in down town Reykjavík.  You can see the line up and purchase festival tickets here.

Many Icelanders often plan this weekend or their camping location according to the weather forecast because who wants to set up camp in pouring rain.

Happy Verslunarmannahelgin!

Summer Festivals in Iceland

Posted on Categories Activities, Culture, Events, Festivals, Iceland, Music, Nature, Reykjavik, TraditionTags , , , ,

Icelandic summer may not be the warmest or sunniest but that doesn’t stop Icelanders from celebrating it in various ways.

There are tons of festivals, big and small, held throughout the country every summer. The bigger once you may have heard of but the smaller local festivals probably not, but they can be just as fun. It’s a good opportunity to meet and mingle with the locals of the town.

The list of summer festivals is long but here you can learn about a few of our favorites.

 

JUNE

FISHERMAN’S SUNDAY
Fisherman’s Sunday, held the first Sunday in June to celebrate and honor the hard work and sacrifices of the Icelandic fisherman and importance that the fishing industry has had on the Icelandic culture. Each town has a celebration by the harbour with sea related entertainment for the whole family.

Learn more about Fisherman’s Sunday in our ‘Seaman’s Sunday blog’.

 

SECRET SOLSTICE
The Secret Solstice Music Festival takes place in Reykjavik over the summer solstice during the brightest part of the year. With over 150 acts both local and international, performing on several stages this festival has become one of the biggest music festivals in Iceland.

Learn more about Secret Solstice in our ‘Secret Solstice blog’.

 

KÓTELETTAN
A BBQ festival held in Selfoss, a town in the south of Iceland, with the focus on Icelandic meat and barbecuing. In addition to the presentation of Icelandic food there is an impressive program for the whole family from morning until night.

 

JULY

IRISH DAYS
An Irish festival held in Akranes, a port town located on the West coast of Iceland. The town was supposedly settled by the Irish in the 9th century so every July, the town celebrates so-called Irish days to commemorate their Irish heritage and celebrate the summer at the same time. It’s a family festival with Irish themed entertainment from morning until night.

 

FJARÐARBYGGÐIN HIKING WEEK
This is one of Iceland’s biggest outdoor recreation events held in Fjarðarbyggð located in the East fjords of Iceland. It is 8 days of entertainment and organised activities to suit the entire family which spans from family walks to historical walks and even to challenges for hiking mountaineers, as well as categories in between.

 

EISTNAFLUG
A metal festival held in Neskaupstaður a quaint little town located on the Norðfjörður fjord on the Eastern coast of Iceland. Eistnaflug is held annually on the second weekend of July each year.

 

BRÆÐSLAN
A fun annual music festival held the last weekend of July in Borgarfjörður Eystri which is located in East Iceland about 70 km from Egilsstaðir. The line up is usually mostly local bands. Most people camp and many bring their whole family.

 

AUGUST

VERSLUNARMANNAHELGIN / LABOR DAY WEEKEND
The first weekend of August is the Icelandic Labour Day weekend, a three day long weekend and the most travelled weekend in Iceland. Icelanders pack their camp gear and wool sweaters and flock out of town to set up camp at various festival sights around the country.  The main festivals are Þjóðhátíð in the Vestman Islands, Neistnaflug in Neskaupsstaður and Innipúkinn in Reykjavík to name a few.

 

FISKIDAGURINN MIKLI / THE GREAT FISH DAY
An annual festival held in North Iceland in a town called Dalvík,  held the first or the second Saturday in August. Fish producers invite guests to a sea food buffet between 11:00 and 17:00 at the harbour in Dalvík. The reason for this generous offer is to get as many people as possible together to taste fish and enjoy a good day in Dalvík. In the evening there is a big concert down by the harbour.

 

GÆRAN
Gaeran, which means lambskin rug, is a music festival held in Mid-August in the northern part of Iceland, in the town of Sauðárkrókur. The festival focuses on offering a wide variety of genres, from folk to rap and everything in between.

 

CULTURE NIGHT

Another annual event held in Reykjavík on the Saturday on or around August 18th, the anniversary date of Reykjavík city. It is by far the biggest celebration in Reykjavík and brings almost a third of the entire population of Iceland onto the streets to celebrate with music, arts and more.

See more on Culture Night in our previous blog.

CENTERTAINMENT

Posted on Categories Events, Music, our-hotelsTags , , , , , ,

We understand how important entertainment is, especially when on vacation.

So, to make sure that our guests get the most out of their hotel stay we decided to offer regular entertainment for both guests and other visitors.

CENTERTAINMENT, as we call it, is a line up of all sorts of fun events and happenings, hosted at our hotels and restaurants. The events vary from live music or DJ nights, to yoga, Happy Hour, art openings, cocktail nights, wine tastings and more.

This summer CENTERTAINMENT is featuring ‘Music in the Garden’.
Music in the Garden is a series of musical events hosted every other Thursday at CenterHotel Miðgarður. There will be various genres of live music, DJ’s and bar offers and outside BBQs in the garden (when weather allows).

The next Music in the Garden event is tonight, May 3rd and the talented Andrés Thor and Haraldur Ægir will perform well-known jazz standards and pop songs in jazz form. The event is from 18:00 – 20:00.
Admission is free, extended Happy Hour and 20% discount off bar snacks during the event.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our events. See full line up here.

Why Iceland

Posted on Categories heritage, Iceland, Music, Nature, Northern Lights

Iceland has been a sizzling hot travel destination in recent years and it doesn’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon.

But what is it that attracts travelers to this island in the north Atlantic?

 

NATURE

Iceland is known for its unspoiled dramatic and oh so picturesque landscape with drastic cliffs, black beaches and spectacular waterfalls. It is unlike most places you see which is why your Instagram feed might be bombarded with pictures from Iceland. The country is often called the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ due to the numerous volcanoes and glaciers. 11% of the Iceland is actually covered by glaciers. Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lake in south-east Iceland is one of the most popular attractions and is most definitely worth the visit.

Another attraction for visitors are of course the infamous Northern Lights which can be visible from September to mid April and in the summertime you will experience the Midnight Sun where the sun never fully sets and the country comes alive with fun Midnight Sun events.  

 

HOT SPRINGS

Iceland is situated on a hot spot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge causing a lot of geothermal activity which is why you will find many hot springs and geothermal pools in Iceland. The most famous hot spring/lagoon in Iceland is called the Blue Lagoon, located only 30 minutes from Reykjavík and another popular hot spring  is Mývatn Nature Baths located in north Iceland. 

 

NO CRIMES

Iceland has a very low crime rate and according to the 2017 Global Peace Index Iceland is the safest country in the world, a position it has held since 2011.

However due to Icelandic rough nature and unpredictable weather one must take precaution when traveling around Iceland.

 

FOOD

Iceland is known for spectacular seafood and lamb and has many excellent restaurants serving Icelandic lamb and seafood dishes consisting of fresh locally sourced ingredients.

Other must tries while in Iceland are the Icelandic hot dogs, skyr (Icelandic jógurt) and make sure you stop by at least one bakery and try ‘Snúður’, a large cinnamon bun with chocolate frosting, a particular favorite of ours.

 

ICELANDIC HORSE

The Icelandic horse is a special breed that has captivated animal enthusiasts from all over the world and for a long time was Iceland’s main tourist attraction. 

 

MUSIC

Iceland has created quite the buzz in the world of art and music, so music lovers flock to Iceland yearly for the music and art scene or to visit one of the popular music festivals hosted in Iceland like Iceland Airwaves or Secret Solstice festival.

And last but not least majority of Icelandic people speak English fairly well  and with the country being ideally located in direct flight route between North America and Europe it makes the perfect stopover.

Eventful March

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, Food, Iceland, Music, News Feed, Reykjavik

The days are finally getting longer in Reykjavík with more sunlight, and the city is as vibrant as ever, offering two spectacular events this weekend.

 

Design March

Design March is Iceland’s most important annual design event and celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year. The event will take place March 15-18th and will be the largest and most significant yet.

Design March offers a unique chance to see and experience Icelandic design, spiced with a handful of the most interesting international names.
From fashion to furniture, architecture to food design, the festival showcases the best of the local design scene alongside exciting international names.

So for four days, Reykjavík, the most northern capital in the world will host dozens of openings, exhibitions, workshops and other events. There are over 100 events-exhibitions, workshops, seminars and parties spread across the city. Usually, these sort of fairs are only open for professionals, however we Icelanders like to have fun, so everybody is invited to join in.

 

Sónar Reykjavík

Another event that is taking place this weekend AND celebrating it’s anniversary is Sónar Reykjavik music festival which will take place for it’s 25th executive year on March 16th and 17th at Harpa music hall.

Sónar is a well known music festival featuring mostly electronica, hip hop and advanced music both from the vibrant Icelandic music scene as well as international talent. The festival will be spread out across 4 different stages, all located indoors within the walls of the beautiful Harpa Concert House and headlining the SonarClub stage will be long-standing electronica innovators Underworld.

If you’re planing to going to Sónar Reykjavík, remember that SKÝ Restaurant & Bar is located right across the street from Harpa concert hall at CenterHotel Arnarhvoll and is the perfect place to grab a pre show dinner or a cocktail while enjoying a spectacular view over Harpa and the bay. And the best part is that CenterHotel guests receive 10% discount of the a la carte menu. It’s a win win win.

 

Dark Music Days & Reykjavik International Games

Posted on Categories Events, Iceland, Music, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

It may be cold and dark these days in Iceland but that doesn’t stop us from hosting interesting events here in Reykjavik. These two upcoming events will be held in the capital in the coming days.

 

Dark Music Days

Dark Music Days, one of the oldest music festivals in Iceland (founded in 1980), did not get its name because of the music being dark but because it is held during the darkest period of the Icelandic winter. This year the festival will be held January 25-27.

This annual festival, founded by the Society of Icelandic Composers is a festival for contemporary and new music and is a platform for performing and getting to know new music with an emphasis on new Icelandic compositions and performers in addition to international artists. The Artistic Director of Dark Music Days 2018 is composer Gunnar Karel Másson.  Gunnar studied composition at the Iceland Art Academy and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen.
Dark Music Days takes place in various venues in downtown Reykjavík like Harpa concert hall, Fríkirkjan church, Iceland Art Museum and more.

 

Reykjavík International Games (RIG)

Reykjavík International Games is a multi sport event of 20 different sports, sponsored by WOW air and will take place from January 25th to February 4th 2018.

The competition will mostly take place in Laugardalur which is the centre for sports and recreation in Reykjavík.
Many of the best athletes in Iceland compete among world class elite athletes from all over the world.
Athletes will compete at high level in various sports like archery, badminton, dance, fencing, gymnastics, judo, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis and several more. This year there will also be an off-venue program where for the first time everyone can participate in the events.

Harpa, Reykjavík Concert Hall

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If you’ve been to Reykjavík, it is rather unlikely that you haven’t noticed the large glass building down by the harbour. The building is called Harpa and is one of Reykjavík’s greatest and most distinguished landmarks. It is also the cultural and social centre of Reykjavík and offers the best facilities for concerts and conferences in Northern Europe.

Harpa’s design was influenced by the Icelandic exceptional and dramatic nature. It even lights up at night with a light show resembling the Northern Lights.  The distinctive glass facade which was designed by visual artist Ólafur Elíasson changes Harpa into a great canvas where all sorts of color can be displayed upon it, giving Reykjavík and the old harbour a certain oomph especially during the dark winter months.

There are various cultural events, concerts and shows almost every day all year round at Harpa ranging from electronic music festival (Sónar), to Reykjavík Jazz Festival, to heavy metal concerts to being the home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. Guided tours of the building in English are also available daily.

 

For those who are interested in seeing a show at Harpa and learning about Icelandic culture in one shot, check out the following shows:

The Pearls of Icelandic Song series:  A popular concert series in Harpa with classical Icelandic music consisting some of the most beloved Icelandic songs, fold-songs and hymns.

How to Become Icelandic in 60 minutes:  The entire show is in english and is not only hilariously funny but it’s a great way to get a little insight on Icelanders and the Icelandic culture. You will laugh and learn and at the end of the show leave the theatre feeling 100% Icelandic.

Icelandic Sagas The Greatest Hits:  A funny and interactive theatrical comedy show featuring the old Icelandic Viking Sagas. The entire show is in english and is not only hilarious but also informative about Icelandic history.  A great way to get a glimpse through Iceland’s literary heritage.

 

You can get tickets to all these shows plus many more right at the front desk at your hotel and prior to the show be sure to try the delicious Pre-Show menu available at SKÝ Restaurant & Bar located right across the street from Harpa at CenterHotel Arnarhvoll.

 

CenterHotels Off-Venue event at SKÝ November 4th

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, Music, News Feed, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , ,

Our third and final Airwaves off-venue event this year will be held on Saturday, November 4th at the rooftop restaurant and bar SKÝ located at CenterHotel Arnarhvoll.  Three mind blowing artists will be performing: Blindur, Hekla and Indolore.

 

Blindur – 17:00-18:00

The evening starts with the Italian band BLINDUR. Blindur is a musical project; a collective; a crossroad of artists; an idea; an hallucination; a confession; a clear demonstration of fidgetiness; a mix of beautiful and ugly things, artless and articled things, and for all these reasons, sincere things.

 

Hekla – 18:00-19:00

Hekla plays electronic music out of thin air. The music is centered around layers of theremins that interlace with one another creating a cinematic sci-fi atmosphere. Theremins come disguised as voices and other times vocals are disguised as theremins.

 

Indolore – 19:00-20:00

Last on stage is INDOLORE.  Exploring pop/folk-based influences like Nick Drake and Damien Rice, french indie-folk musician INDOLORE began his career in London in a band called Shine, opening for Sia and Morcheeba and working with British rock legend Terry Reid. His debut EP “Positive Girls” got hundreds of streams. He was invited to SXSW in Austin, Texas in 2016. INDOLORE is back to Iceland where he recorded his new EP “Love Letters From Eylenda” in the studio of the magic Sigur Rós last summer. It’s out now on all digital platforms.

 

SKÝ Restaurant and Bar will be offering Happy Hour prices during the event as well as special Airwaves food & beer combos.  Be sure to ask for the Airwaves Cocktail, it’s a good one this year.

Check out our other two off-venue events here.

 

Can’t wait to see you Friday!