RAINBOW REYKJAVIK WINTER PRIDE

Posted on Categories Events, Northern Lights, Reykjavik, Tours, WinterTags , , ,

Pink Party, Queer Bingo Extravaganza, Northern Lights Hunt, Masquerade Ball and plenty more fabulous fun is on Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride’s agenda this weekend February 8-11.

Going on for the 7th year in Reykjavík, this small pride festival has been a great success as it combines amazing nature, northern lights and nightlife. It is the perfect winter getaway and a great introduction to Iceland.

Guests are welcomed from all over the world so if Iceland is on your bucket list; the Rainbow Reykjavik Program covers it all.  You will be walking along the Continental Divide between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America, seeing geysers, beautiful waterfalls and nature of unparalleled beauty.  You will also relax in the Blue Lagoon and dine in world-class restaurants, sit in cozy cafes and of course party until the wee hours of the morning with LGBT people from all over the world.

CenterHotels works closely with Pink Iceland, the coordinators of Rainbow Reykjavík and this year, like every year, we proudly offer accommodations for visitors of Rainbow Reykjavík Winter Pride Festival.

Winter Lights Festival in Reykjavík

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, Museums, Reykjavik, WinterTags , , , , ,

Winter Lights Festival is an annual event held in Reykjavík that celebrates both the winter world and the growing sunlight after a long period of darkness. The festival this year will be held February 1-4 and with the participation of all the major museums and thermal pools; it consists of light installations, culture and outdoor activities. There will be a Museum Night, Pool Night, Northern Lights Run and over 100 other events in the Greater Reykjavík area.

 

The Museum Night takes place on Friday, February 2nd and is Winter Lights Festival’s most popular event.  Museums across the capital area open their doors and entertain their guests with happenings such as dance, theatre, lectures, live music, film, literature readings and much more free of charge. All  museums are open from 18.00-23.00.

Check out the Glacier and Ice Cave exhibition at Perlan, it gives visitors the opportunity to experience travelling through a real man-made Ice Cave, and for you punks out there, the Icelandic Punk Museum will open their doors for public access and at the Saga Museum you will be able to meet real vikings where they will be entertaining visitors all night like only they know how.

In collaboration with the Winter Lights Festival, GoRed’s for women Heart walk will also take place on Feb 2nd. It starts at hallgrímskirkja church at 19:30 and ends at Harpa Concert Hall where a new interactive light installation dubbed ‘Heart’ will be revealed on Harpa luminous facade.

 

The Pool Night takes place on Saturday February 3rd and invites visitors to try many of the city’s exceptional thermal pools for FREE. Pool Night added attractions include thrilling in-pool activities, music and pool illuminations. And if you are lucky you might get a glimpse of the Northern Lights while relaxing in a hot tub in one of the outdoor pools. Here you can find a list of all swimming pools in Pool night.

 

Northern Lights Run is a part of the Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival and is a run or a walk through downtown Reykjavík where runners will see the city in a new and colourful light. All participants get their very own illuminating merchandise throughout the entire event, making you a part of the entire show from start to finish. The run takes place on Saturday night February 3rd.  More info on the Northern Lights Run here.

 

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.

Banging New Years

Posted on Categories Culture, Holidays, Iceland, Reykjavik, TraditionTags , ,

If you’re celebrating New Years in Reykjavík, you are in for a treat. Icelanders sure know how to welcome in the new year.

In the early evening families gather for a feast. New Years Eve dinner is usually not as traditional as the Christmas meal. Some always stick to the same but most families mix things up a bit for New Years.

After dinner some families like to gather around neighbourhood bonfires and sing songs about (and with) the elves and hidden people that according to old Icelandic folklore are most prominent at this time of year and actually walk amongst us on New Years Eve some in disguises. The bonfires are more for the children and there are 17 bonfires in the greater Reykjavík area and the largest one is at Ægissíða by the seaside in the Western part of Reykjavík.
Reykjavik Excursions offers a great Bonfire Tour which allows you to experience this tradition with the locals.  Also if you are interested in learning more about the strange Icelandic folklore connected to the magical New Year’s Eve, join the Magic & Mystery tour at New Year

At 22:30 everyone gathers around the TV (literally everyone) to watch Áramótaskaupið which is a sarcastic comedy show that covers the highlights of the passing years events.  You will notice the whole city shutting down during the show as everyone and their mother is inside watching it.

At 23:30, as soon as the Áramótaskaup ends, you will start to see and hear fireworks light up the sky which peak at midnight with fireworks covering the whole sky.  Icelanders blow up about 600 tonnes of fireworks on NYE so get ready for a show, it is quite breathtaking.

Keep in mind that if you are planning on enjoying the fireworks from outside, safety googles are strongly recommended and due to the pollution caused by the excess amount of fireworks; it is wise for those who suffer from asthma to rather enjoy the show from inside.

Popular locations in Reykjavík to view the fireworks from are Hallgrímskirkja church and Perlan (The Pearl). Just make sure to dress warm as it’s going to be a chilly one and of course bring something bubbly and welcome the new year with a bang!

Lastly,  like for Christmas, not all restaurants are open for New Years and the once that are open do book up fast so make sure to make a table reservation ahead of time.  Most restaurants also offer a set New Years menu that are usually a more festive version of their normal menu.
All our three hotel Restaurants will be open for New Years Eve and New Years Day and you can view our New Years menus here: SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, Ísafold Restaurant and Jörgensen Kitchen.

Have a banging New Years in Reykjavík!

What makes Icelandic Christmas special

Posted on Categories Culture, Food, Iceland, Reykjavik, WinterTags

We LOVE our Christmas traditions in Iceland and most families hold onto them very tightly.  As a matter of fact Iceland is so full of Holiday traditions that it’s not easy covering them all in just one blog post. We did our best but keep in mind that December has just started so there is more to come. 

 
 

Advent and the Christmas spirit

It will certainly not go unnoticed when Christmas season in Iceland begins as it becomes a 6 week party for all of your senses.
The season starts for most when Advent begins which is the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas. This is when you see Christmas lights and decorations pop up everywhere, you will hear the sound of Christmas music and get a whiff of gingerbread cookies and mandarins wherever you go. The stores become busier and public places generally more lively.  So in other words this is when you start to see, smell, hear and feel the spirit of Christmas everywhere around you.

 

The 13 Santa Clauses or Yule lads

Originating from Old Icelandic folklore there are 13 mischievous pranksters that live in a cave in the mountains and in modern days these lads have somehow become the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. Each Yule lad has their specific idiosyncrasy and will behave in a particular manner. For example Pot Licker steals leftovers out of pots, Door slammer likes to slam doors, especially during the night, and Skyrgámur has an affinity for skyr (Icelandic version of Greek yogurt).

But they’re not just bad, because starting 13 days before Christmas they come to town, one each night, and leave a treat in children’s shoes (or a rotten potato, depending on how the child behaved the preceding day). This is why children place their favourite shoe in their bedroom windowsill each evening starting 13 days before Christmas and of course try to be on their best behaviour in order to get a nice treat from Santa.

 

Fun time for the whole family

This is the season for kids after all so what really sets the Christmas tone in Reykjavík is the Christmas ice skating plaza, located at Ingólfstorg square, across from CenterHotel Plaza. You can rent ice skates for 990 ISK and enjoy food, drinks and other goods while getting into the Christmas spirit.  The ice rink is open every day until December 24 from 12:00-22:00.

Another fun Christmas activity for the whole family would be to visit the Christmas village located in downtown Hafnafjörður (aprox 15-20 minute drive from Reykjavík).  It offers live entertainment and you can walk through little Christmas houses with all sorts of handcrafted Icelandic designs and yummy home baked goodies for sale and of course Santa and elves will be around greeting the children. The Christmas village is open every Saturday and Sunday in December until Christmas.

 

White Christmas and Northern Lights

Who doesn’t wish for white Christmas?  Well if you’re in Iceland you’re in luck because your chances of getting white Christmas here are a lot better than in many other places.
Your chances of seeing the northern Lights are also a reality since December is the darkest month of the year in Iceland. To view the Northern Lights in all their glory it’s best to be slightly away from the city lights so you might want to consider joining a guided tour.

 

Food & Drinks 

Again, most Icelanders hold tightly onto their Christmas traditions and certainly no less when it comes to food, with recipes being handed down generations. The Christmas meal is the most special meal of the year so we go ALL OUT.  Most families stick to the same meal every Christmas although this has changed in the last few decades.

The most common and traditional Christmas meal is smoked lamb or ‘Hangikjöt’ served with bechamel sauce, potatoes, peas and pickled red cabbage. This has been a Christmas classic for centuries.
Other popular Icelandic Christmas foods are Glazed rack of ham or ‘Hamborgarhryggur‘ which is traditionally a Danish meal or Ptarmigan ‘Rjúpa‘ which is a member of the grouse family and most people will serve it with caramelised potatoes, and of course pickled red cabbage.

Baking is also a big part of Icelandic Christmas like in many other cultures and most families will bake few sorts of cookies but one baking tradition is especially important to Icelanders and sticks out from other cultures and that is the baking of Leaf Bread or ‘Laufabrauð‘. Sometimes called ‘snowflake bread’ Leaf bread is a crispy thin cake, decorated with leaf-like geometric patterns and fried briefly in hot oil or fat and served with Christmas dinner.

We also have our traditional Christmas drinks, like Jólaöl which is a mixture of local non alcoholic Malt drink and orange soda and Jólaglögg or Mulled Wine, a spiced and usually alcoholic drink that is served warm and then of course we have a variety of Icelandic Christmas beer that are brewed only for the holiday season. Going Christmas beer tasting has become a fun part of the Icelandic holiday tradition in recent years. We suggest you visit the hotel bar and try some delicious Christmas beers.


If you are visiting Reykjavík for the holidays, we recommend booking a table at a restaurant in advance for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve as not nearly all restaurants are open those days and the once that are open book up quickly.  Most restaurants also offer a set holiday menu that are usually a more festive version of their normal menu.
All our three hotel Restaurants will be open those days and you can view our holiday menus here: SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, Ísafold Restaurant and Jörgensen Kitchen.

Our idea of how to spend a winter day in Reykjavik

Posted on Categories Culture, our-hotels, Reykjavik, WinterTags , , , , ,

There is plenty to to in Reykjavík on a cold winter day.
If you’re still in doubt.. join us on this full day of fun.

 

Perlan museum Wonders of Iceland

After filling up on a delicious CenterHotels breakfast let’s visit Perlan.
Perlan (‘The Pearl’ in English) is a spectacular landmark building that overlooks Reykjavik and can be seen for miles around.  The building is a large glass dome placed on top of geothermal water storage tanks with a 360 viewing platform.  In the Perlan Wonders of Iceland museum you can learn about glaciers and even experience the feeling of walking through a real glacier cave, an accurate replica of an ice tunnel dug straight through a glacier and the only indoor ice cave of it’s kind in the world.  Perlan even offers a free shuttle bus from Harpa concert hall to Perlan daily from 9:00 – 17:30.

 

Soup at Svarta kaffið

It’s time for lunch so we’re heading to Svarta Kaffið, a little warm and cozy café on Laugavegur strip and they are known for these hearty bread bowl soups, and for a reason, they are YUMMY!    

 

Coffee at Reykjavík Roasters

We’re skipping our after lunch coffee at Svarta Kaffið because we’re going to Reykjavík Roasters for the best cup of Java in town.

 

Walking Tour of Reykjavík

Now that we’re full and high on caffeine it’s time to walk it all off by exploring Reykjavík on foot.
Citywalk offers a free 2 hour walking tour that takes you on foot around the heart of Reykjavík with an english speaking local.

 

Thermal pool or spa

After roaming around Reykjavík in the cold for 2 hours, a soak in one of Reykjavík’s many warm thermal pools does not sound bad at all.  

Soaking in hot water has many health benefits along with just being cozy on a cold winter day which is why bathing in warm thermal pools is a very common practice amongst Icelanders all year round and it dates back to the early settlement of Iceland.  It’s not only good for the body and soul but it’s an inexpensive fun for the whole family, approx 8 Euros for adults and FREE for children under 10 years old.  Our favorite thermal swimming pools in central Reykjavik are: Laugardalslaug and Vesturbæjarlaug.

If you fancy more pampering and don’t feel like venturing to one of the local swimming pools you should visit one of the CenterHotels wellness areas, Miðgarður Spa, Ísafold Spa or Arnarhvoll Wellness center.  You can book your admission with the friendly front desk staff.

 

Dinner at Ísafold Restaurant

We’re feeling fresh and rejuvenated but starting to get hungry again so the next and last stop is Ísafold Restaurant located at CenterHotel Þingholt.  Here we are literally going to get a taste of Iceland in one evening by ordering the Old Iceland menu, a three course speciality menu featuring the best of Icelandic culinary world.  The bacalou main course is to die for!! 

After dinner we will finish our evening with a  whiskey tasting at Ísafold lounge.  Their impressive whiskey collection features quality whiskeys from all corners of the world.

Harpa, Reykjavík Concert Hall

Posted on Categories Culture, Music, News Feed, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

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!

CenterHotels Off-Venue event at Ísafold November 3rd

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

Our second Airwaves off-venue event this year will be held on Friday, November 3rd at Ísafold/CenterHotel Þingholt with three great bands: Ylfa Marín, Keto and Ingunn Huld.

 

Ylfa Marín – 17:00-18:00

The musician Ylfa Marín starts the show with her smooth and sweet voice. Ylfa is passionate about diverse genres of music and has participated in various projects that mostly have gained popularity abroad. Earlier this year she released an electronica record and since then she has been working on a solo project.

 

Keto – 18:00-19:00

Second on stage is Keto. Keto bring their own style of lo-fi folk, likened to Cat Power and Elliot Smith, with audience members describing it ashypnotic. Playing shows alongside Lower Dens, Eaves, and getting the chance to sing with Sun Kil Moon in Hackney, Keto has gained support from 6music, Drowned in Sound, Clash Mag, and John Kennedy, with her single ‘Change’. 

 

Ingunn Huld – 19:00-20:00

Ingunn Huld is a singer-songwriter that studied jazz singing and released her debut album, Fjúk in November 2015. She has performed at various cafes and smaller venues in and around Reykjavík. Despite her studies as a jazz vocalist and her interest in jazz, she mainly performs pop and folk music. In October 2017 she released her song Splendid along with a music video. In the off-venue concerts she will be accompanied by the bassist Árni Magnùsson and together they will play new songs in English along with a few songs from the album Fjúk.

 

Ísafold Lounge will be offering Happy Hour prices during the show and 10% discount will be off the a la carte menu at Ísafold Restaurant.  Be sure to try the Moscow Mule, our official Airwaves Cocktail this year.

Check out our other two off-venue events here.

 

See you Friday!

CenterHotels Off-Venue event at Miðgarður November 2nd

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

Our Off-Venue schedule this year kicks off this Thursday November 2nd at CenterHotel Miðgarður with three amazing Icelandic bands: VAR, INDRIÐI and HUGAR.

 

VAR – 17:00-18:00

VAR is a five piece band from Iceland. Their music is full of power and melodies drawing influence from various directions, as members of the band hail from different musical backgrounds. Their live performance is powerful and energetic and is sure to move you in many ways.

 

INDRIDI – 18:00-19:00

Indridi is the music composed by Indriði Arnar Ingólfsson an Icelandic musician born of Reykjavik’s DIY punk scene, founding member of intense punk band MUCK and collaborator of artists such as Jófríður Ákadóttir (JFDR, Samaris, Pascal Pinon), Úlfur Hansson (Klive), and The Heavy Experience. Indriði’s first solo record was released via new record label figureight in fall of 2016. Comprising of ten original tracks written, produced and recorded by Indriði, Makril reflects his ideas of self-exploration and leaving the insular society of Iceland, themes which are expressed through the album’s beautifully sparse soundscapes, melodic guitar motifs, and vocals that are weighed down with both emotion and experience.

 

HUGAR – 19:00-20:00

The duo Hugar consists of Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson. Both have been creating music of all kinds in their native Iceland since toddlers. Few years ago they sat down, put their minds together and decided to pursue some new, fresh avenues where they could flex their creative muscles (Hugar means “Minds” in Icelandic).

Their self-titled debut album was released in 2014, containing some ethereal pieces of instrumental music. Two songs from that album got playlisted on the ‘Peaceful Piano’ Spotify Playlist (followed by 2 million users). Hugar are in good company on said playlist (Aphex Twin, Yann Tiersen, Ólafur Arnalds, Alicia Keys among others) and the tracks have now gathered millions of plays.

 

Jörgensen Kitchen & bar will be offering Happy Hour prices during the show and 10% discount will be off the a la carte menu at Jörgensen Kitchen.  Be sure to try the Moscow Mule, our official Airwaves Cocktail this year.

Check out our other two off-venue events here.

 

See you Thursday!