Reykjavík Marathon and Culture Night

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Reykjavík Marathon and Culture night (Menningarnótt) take place this Saturday, August 19th.

Reykjavík Marathon will start and finish in Lækjargata located in the center of Reykjavík and there are several things that make the Marathon stand out from other city marathons. First of all Reykjavik actually has some of the cleanest air of any city,  in addition to the Marathon and Half marathon distances; it also includes a 10k, 3k fun run and a kid´s marathon for children 8 years and younger which makes it an event for the whole family. Finally the course of the Reykjavik Marathon is exceptionally unique and scenic. The race is one lap and starts and finishes downtown within sight of the beautiful pond and the city hall. Runners pass along seaside with views of the ocean and Esjan and Snæfellsjökull glacier, through residential areas where many inhabitants come out of their houses to cheer the runners on. The participants also pass a number of famous buildings, including Höfdi House, a Reykjavik City Council reception venue where US President Ronald Reagan and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for a summit in 1986.

The date of the marathon is planned to coincide with ‘Reykjavík Culture night’ or Menningarnótt.

The Reykjavik Culture Night is a yearly event that brings almost a third of the entire population of Iceland onto the streets to celebrate. It is held on or around August 18th every year which is the anniversary date of Reykjavík city. There is a long program of cultural events throughout the day and night such as art exhibitions, outdoor karaoke, youth circus for the children, food and music events and graffiti artists. 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. 

Enjoy a full day of fun this Saturday in Reykjavík!

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.

Extreme Chill Festival

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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.

Midsummer night – Jónsmessa

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Jónsmessa, also known as Midsummer Night, is an Icelandic holiday celebrated on June 24th. The holiday is named after John the Baptist and June 24th is supposedly his birthday.

The beauty of this holiday is how it interweaves magic and religion. According to Icelandic folklore there are four particular nights of the year when both good and evil forces unleash and you can expect mysterious things to occur, the nights are: Christmas eve, New Years Eve, Thirteenth Night (January 6th) and Midsummer night.

The tales tell that on Midsummer night various things gain special powers for example seals become human, cows gain the ability to speak in human tongue and the earth has special healing powers which is why rolling around naked in mud or dewy grass at midnight is considered good for your health and you can receive unbelievable healing. And while you are rolling around in the dew, be sure to make a wish because it is likely your wish will be granted on this special night. Icelandic folklore also states that if you sit at a crossroads where all four roads lead to separate churches, elves will attempt to seduce you with food and gifts.

There are some interesting midsummer events this weekend including the Midnight Sun Run which will take place on the evening of June 23rd and the Reykjavík Midsummer Music, a top notch music festival with some of today’s leading artists, held at Harpa music hall June 22-25.

Midnight Sun Run in Reykjavík

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Iceland’s Midnight Sun Run takes place for the 25th time on June 23rd in Reykjavik. The run is unique because it starts late in the evening, in the bright summer night. The race is held around summer solstice which means that during the night it does not get dark at all– it’s very much a midsummer celebration!  

The timing of the run is also unique because according to Icelandic folklore this particular night is considered very mystical. It is the night prior to Jónsmessa or Midsummer night, an Icelandic holiday named after John the Baptist, held on June 24th. The folklore claims that at midnight on June 23rd both good and evil forces unleash and you can expect mysterious things to happen.

Participants of the Midnight sun run can choose between three distances, 5k, 10k and half marathon. Close by the start and finish of the race is one of the city’s wonderful geothermal outdoor swimming pools, Laugardalslaug where participants are invited to take a midnight swim or relax in the hot tubs after the race. 

Reykjavik harbor

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The Old Reykjavik harbor was built between the years 1913 and 1917 and has a long history of being one of the largest and more important service harbors in Iceland.

In recent years it has transformed into a popular spot for tourists. Walking down Reykjavíks old harbor you will find colorful sheds that offer all sorts of services for tourists including whale watching companies like Elding and Special Tours, shops and restaurants and even scooter and bike rentals like Puffin Scooters. The harbor is also quite photogenic with views of fishing boats, Harpa concert hall and snow capped mountain tops.  

Whether you prefer visiting stores, museums and/or sampling some of the best of Icelandic culinary culture it is very likely that you will find something that floats your boat at the Old Harbor.  

We have gathered a few things that the Old Harbor has to offer:

Harpa concert hall

Located on the old harbor in Reykjavik and is not only an architectural marvel but offers a lot of activities like variety of events and concerts.

Harpa also has a restaurant and café, a design store as well as the Iceland Expo Pavillion.

Kolaportið flea market

Located at the north-east corner of the harbor is the city’s flea market, Kolaportið.  It’s indoors and is open from 11-5 every weekend.

There you can get great deals on vintage clothes, books and food. You can even sample fermented shark or buy a bag of stockfish.

Across the street from Kolaportið is the famous hot dog stand Bæjarins Beztu, where you can get the best hot dogs in Reykjavik!

Restaurants

Several fish restaurants can be found on the Old Harbor, including Mar and Sea Baron which has been known to serve the ‘World’s Greatest Lobster Soup’ and the friendly café Haití. Other restaurants at the Old Harbor include the traditional Icelandic restaurant Höfnin, and the popular burger joint Hamborgarabúllan.

Grandinn

On the western edge of the harbor is the trendy Grandi area. It was named after the old fish factory there and is also loaded with amazing and cool restaurants such as the Coocoos nest and Matur og drykkur. Kaffivagninn is a super cozy coffeehouse shed that has been there since 1935.  At Grandinn you will also find museums such as Aurora Reykjavik and The Maritime Museum and the most popular ice cream shop in Reykjavik called Valdís which is located directly in front of the Maritime museum and has a massive selection of ice cream flavors.  

Have fun at the Old Harbor!

 

 

A house with a history

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Höfði house was built in 1909. Initially it was the house of the French consul in Iceland. At the time it was one of the largest houses in Reykjavík and certainly one of the most impressive and beautiful.

Later the house was leased to the British ambassador and received famous guests such as Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, as well as singer Marlene Dietrich. The last British ambassador in Höfði couldn’t stand living in the house as he said it was haunted by a White Lady.

The house was bought by the city of Reykjavík in 1958 and was used for receiving distinguished guests and hosting important meetings and still is to this day.

One of the most important meetings to take place in Höfði was the Reykjavík Summit when presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met there in 1986. The meeting was first considered a failure but later people have said the meeting was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

By Höfði there are several interesting works of art such as the Throne Pillars by artist Sigurjón Ólafsson, a statue by Ásmundur Sveinsson of poet Einar Benediktsson, who lived in the house for a few years.

The house is unfortunately not open to the public but visitors are of course welcome to explore the house from the outside.  Höfði house is located at Borgartún overlooking the sea shore.

 

The First Day of Summer

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The First Day of Summer will be celebrated on Thursday April 20, it is an annual public holiday in Iceland held on the first Thursday after April 18. In former times Icelanders used the Old Norse calendar which divided the year into only two seasons, winter and summer and that is the reason why the first day of summer is celebrated rather early.

Although the weather in late April is often not very nice, after the long winter Icelanders still celebrate the first day of summer with parades, sporting events and organized entertainment, held in various places around Iceland.

The festivities in the center of Reykjavík will be held at Klambratún, a large park where you’ll find a variety of activities, a playground for children, Frisbee golf court, a basketball court and a beach volleyball court.  Free hot dogs and bike repairing for the children in the neighborhood will be available along with organized entertainment and games of all sorts.  Kjarvalsstaðir, the art museum is located in the park which makes visiting the museum an ideal idea to spice up the day.

Another type of festivities will be taking place in the center and that is a 5 K race through the streets of downtown Reykjavík which has been an integral part of the festivities since 1916.

Enjoy the first day of summer, let‘s hope the weather will be nice!

Eve Fanfest

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The annual EVE Online Fanfest is set to take place April 6-8 at the Harpa Concert & Conference Hall in downtown Reykjavík, hosted by the game developer CCP.

For an awesome three-day gathering in beautiful Reykjavík, Iceland Eve fans from all over the world gather to socialize, attend presentations, tournaments and take part in various activities connected with gaming. There are parties, an amazing pub crawl, community camaraderie, and the infamous Party at the Top of the World hosting acts such as DJ Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones) and illustrious Permaband, CCP´s in-house rock gods.

We at Centerhotels are once again proudly partnering with CCP and hosting EVE fans from all over the world at our hotels.  The hotels hosting the EVE fans are CenterHotel Plazalocated right downtown, close to all the action and Centerhotel Arnarhvoll that is located across the street from the Fan fest venue.  Arnarhvoll has a beautiful roof top restaurant; SKÝ Restaurant & Bar with that offers views over Harpa where you can sip on an exclusive EVE Online cocktail, while observing the excited and possibly dressed up attendees enter the event across the street. 

The exclusive EVE Online cocktail that we created just for this event will be available at all our hotel bars during the event days.

Have fun at EVE Fanfest 2017!

 

A walk among the sculptures

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The Einar Jónsson museum is right next to Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík.  It was opened in 1923 and was the first museum in the city at the time it was built and the the only building on the Skólavörðuhæð hill.

The museum was designed by Einar Jónsson himself so it is one of his biggest sculptures. He lived in the house, made his sculptures there and displayed them for guests.

The museum is surrounded by a wonderful sculpture garden that is open all year round.  The garden is an ideal place to visit both during the bright and warm summer days as well as the cold winter days when the sculptures get a little extra twist with beautiful snowflakes surrounding them.

More information about the museum and garden can be found here