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Pink October

Posted on Categories charity, Events, Iceland, ReykjavikTags , , ,

Pink October

October is the international Breast Cancer Awareness month and to mark this occasion, several landmark buildings in Reykjavik will be illuminated in pink, such as Hallgrímskirkja church, the University of Iceland and Harpa Music and conference hall. In the countryside you may also notice hay bales wrapped in pink instead of the regular white wrapping.  

The pink ribbon campaign is an internationally operating charity organization to raise awareness of cancer among women. This year the jeweler Ása Gunnlaugsdóttur designed the pink ribbon brooch in Iceland and the focus is to raise money for education and counseling to individuals throughout the country diagnosed with cancer and their families.  The brooch costs 2.000 kr. and is available at shops around Iceland and online

CenterHotels are proud participants in raising awareness for this worthy cause and we are geared up for a pink October. 

The Pink Drink

During the month of October SKÝ Restaurant & Bar, Ísafold RestaurantJörgensen Kitchen & Bar and Centerhotel Plaza bar will be offering a refreshing cocktail called ‘The Pink Drink’. The Pink Drink will be available both with and without alcohol, at a great price AND the best part is that a portion of each Pink Drink sold goes to the Pink Ribbon project.

Pink Yoga and Spa for a cause

Centertainment will host a charity yoga event on Thursday October 12th at CenterHotel Miðgarður.  

Thorey yoga instructor will lead a gentle Hatha yoga class focusing on breathing exercises, easy poses, stretches and relaxation. After the class participants have the option to continue their relaxation in the new Miðgarður Spa where of course The Pink Drink will be available for purchase.

To secure your place sign up here.  Donation is 2.000 kr with 100% of the proceeds going to the Pink Ribbon project. 

 

Illumination of the Imagine Peace Tower

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

In 1967 John Lennon asked Yoko Ono to create a peace tower for him in his backyard in England.  Although this never happened, 40 years later on October 9th 2007 on what would have been her late husband’s 67th birthday, the Imagine Peace Tower rose in Reykjavík, Iceland.

You may wonder why Iceland?  Well for many years Iceland has been ranked as the most peaceful country in the world and this is why Yoko considered Iceland to be the perfect place for the peace tower to be situated.

The sculpture is in the shape of a wishing well and shoots out a powerful tower of light beams into the dark evening sky. The tower symbolizes Lennon’s and Ono’s continuing campaign for world peace and the words IMAGINE PEACE are inscribed on the well in 24 different languages.

The electricity for the light comes entirely from Reykjavik Energy, which produces the electricity from geothermal power.  Another good reason why Iceland is a great location for the memorial.

The Imagine Peace Tower is located on Viðey Island, a short ferry ride just outside of Reykjavík Harbour and every year, on October 9th, the tower is lit with an illumination ceremony.  The tower stays lit until December 8th (the anniversary of Lennon’s death).  Yoko Ono visits Iceland every year to attend the illumination of the tower and she also offers free ferry rides to and from the island to encourage people to come and attend the ceremony.

You can also experience the light glory from a distance at the rooftop restaurant SKÝ Restaurant and Bar located at Centerhotel Arnarhvoll. From there you should be able to view the light beams coming from the island while munching on a delicious meal and/or sipping on a refreshing cocktail.

Peace and Light

New CenterHotel; CenterHotel Miðgarður

Posted on Categories Iceland, Nature, our-hotels, ReykjavikTags , , ,

This summer the new extension of CenterHotel Miðgarður was finalized and with that the hotel now offers 170 beautifully decorated rooms, breakfast room, open and spacious lobby and lobby lounge, bar and well-designed meeting rooms.   The hotel building is designed in a u-shaped form with a beautifully decorated secluded garden in the middle that is accessible for guests both from the lobby as well as from the hotel’s restaurant; Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar.

With the extension of the hotel, a SPA was also added to the hotel that includes an indoor and an outdoor hot tub, sauna, gym and two treatment rooms.  Various types of beauty treatments and massages will be available at Miðgarður SPA.

The design and at the same time the theme of the hotel is the nature that reflects in numerous flowers and trees that are found throughout the hotel, both indoor and outdoor.  The “Klöpp” or the flat rock the building was built on is well visible in the garden showing the true nature surrounding the hotel.  The interior design is light, bright and beautiful and it’s aim is to give guests a place where they can really enjoy a relaxing and cozy time during their visit in the city center.

 

Reykjavik International Film Festival

Posted on Categories Culture, Events, ReykjavikTags , , , ,

RIFF –  Reykjavík International Film Festival will be held for the 14th time from Sept 28th-Oct 8th 2017. So for 11 days Icelandic movie fanatics and tourists alike will flock to the theatre to see the latest and greatest of international film making. The goal is to present new up and coming filmmakers with the main prize-the Golden Puffin, which is awarded only to first or second time directors.

The festival shows a wide range of dramas and non-fiction films from over 40 countries.  Attendees get to interact with directors, attend lectures and workshops, concerts and exhibitions. They also have the opportunity to watch films in the most peculiar environment, for instance while bathing in a thermal swimming pool or in the filmmaker’s home.

Iceland is geographically a great place for this festival due to the location between Europe and North America so many people from all over the world come to the Reykjavík International Film Festival.

 

6 Museums in Reykjavík worth visiting

Posted on Categories Culture, ReykjavikTags , ,

There is no doubt that Iceland’s number one attraction is the beautiful nature and picturesque landscape. However, Reykjavík city has a great deal of local culture and history and so spending at least one or two days strolling around the city and visiting museums is an absolute must. So for you museum goers we’ve gathered a list of six interesting museums in Reykjavík that are worth checking out.

Árbær Open Air Museum

A quaint outdoor museum that showcases architecture and way of life in Reykjavík in the 19th and 20th century. Árbær Museum was founded in 1957 due to a concern that ‘old Reykjavík’ was disappearing. There are over twenty houses that were relocated from central Reykjavík to the museum and they form a small village, a town square and a farm with real life farm animals on bate in the summer. One hour guided tours in English are offered where guests get to hear the history of each house. You get a real feel of the way of life in the past. The museum also benefits from its proximity to the Ellidarár valley, an extensive outdoor recreation area with beautiful groves of trees. It’s a fun experience for the whole family.

The National Museum of Iceland

Established in 1863, The National Museum of Iceland is the oldest museum in Iceland. It’s role is to increase and relay knowledge of Icelandic cultural heritage, from the nation’s earliest Viking settlements through to the current day.

Reykjavík Maritime Museum

Located at Grandinn by the Old harbor in a building that was originally built as a fish freezing plant, the Maritime Museum exhibits and shares history of Icelandic Fishing industry and culture, it exhibits Sea related items that tell this important story. The newest addition to the museum is the former coast guard ship Óðinn and guests of the museum have now access to guided tours of the vessel.

Whales of Iceland

The Whales of Iceland is 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 at the cafe and enjoy a cup of java or hot chocolate while munching on a whale themed cake.

The Iceland Punk Museum

Located in a former public toilets in Bankastræti near Lækjatorg square is Iceland punk museum. It was opened  by the famous punk rocker Johnny Rotten of the legendary band Sex Pistols in 2016 and offers a fascinating look at the Icelandic punk history.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Possibly the only penis museum in the world and it’s located right here in Reykjavik.  This is no joke..you just have to see it to believe it. 

 

Why visit Iceland in the Autumn

Posted on Categories Autumn, Iceland, Nature, ReykjavikTags , , ,

You may have heard that the only time to visit Iceland is during the summer months.  

Well, we beg to differ. It really depends on what you are looking to experience. Sure, June to late August is the peak travel season in Iceland due to warmer weather, long days and accessibility to more remote sites. But there is still plenty to experience in other seasons and several reasons why it actually makes more sense to visit Iceland in the autumn.

Beautiful

Although temperatures are lower and the days are shorter, the weather is still favorable in the fall and most roads are still accessible at least in September and October. Furthermore, Iceland is so incredibly beautiful in the Autumn with the leaves changing colors, rainbows and berries everywhere and of course the amazing sunsets, now that the sun actually sets.

Things to do

First of all did you know that the Northern Lights start making their first appearance in early September? Autumn is a great time to spot one of the 7 natural wonders of the world as the dark nights have returned and the weather conditions are still good. 

September is also the time to join in on one of Iceland’s oldest cultural traditions; the annual sheep round-up, a.k.a Réttir. Sounds like fun? Well, Réttir is the biggest farming event in Iceland. It is when farmers gather and round up all their sheep and horses from the mountains and it becomes a big community celebration. Farmers invite family, friends and anyone who’s interested to help out with rounding up the sheep and of course it’s followed by a night of singing, dancing and drinking.  And if you haven’t already, this is the time and season to try fresh organic Icelandic lamb. It doesn’t get better.. anywhere else.. promise!

For you movie buffs, be sure to check out Reykjavík International Film Festival. RIFF is an independent non profit organization and the festival takes place every year in late September for eleven days. This year it’s held September 28 – October 8.  

Another huge autumn event in Iceland for music lovers in particular is the notorious Airwaves music festival, held every year in late October/early November. This year the festival is held November 1-5.

Crowds and Prices

Now that the summer tourist is gone; you will experience less crowds at the popular destinations making it easier for you to spread out and catch those awesome Instagram shots without random tourists with selfie sticks ruining your view.

Last but not least, most airlines and hotels drop their prices significantly in the fall/winter seasons making Iceland a bit more affordable so think about the money you could save visiting Iceland in the Autumn.

The Northern Lights season starts again

Posted on Categories Activities, Iceland, Nature, Northern Lights, Reykjavik, ToursTags , , , , ,

The Northern Lights are back.

It is with great excitement that we announce that the Northern Lights season has begun once again in Iceland and the forecast tonight, September 6th is looking GOOOOD!
The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are caused by the collisions of electrically charged particles from the sun with the earth’s upper atmosphere near the North Pole.
Although the Northern Lights are active all year round; you can only spot them in the dark and when the sky is clear. Which means that the early fall is a great time to spot the dancing lights of the aurora in Iceland because the dark nights have returned and the weather conditions are still favorable.
The aurora can appear in many colors although the green and pink are the most common. The lights can appear like a shooting ray across the sky or as a soft silky cloth that lights up the sky with an eerie glow.
To view the Northern Lights in all their glory it’s best to be away from the city lights.
One of the more common destinations for Northern Lights hunting is ÞINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK as it is extremely photogenic and only approximately an hour drive from Reykjavík. If you don’t have a car or have the ambition to drive aimlessly into the night you can easily book a guided Northern Lights tour with an expert guide that know the best places to spot the lights depending on weather conditions. Just keep in mind that the tour is usually 3-4 hour long so make sure you have eaten dinner and are well rested. Since many visitors like to nap prior to their Northern Lights tour we at Centerhotels offer our guests Northern Lights wake up service free of charge.
There are also several spots in and around Reykjavík that are good for Northern Lights hunting.
GRÓTTA LIGHTHOUSE is a popular spot as it’s in close vicinity of downtown Reykjavík.Giving the close vicinity to downtown and the fact that is very poorly lit makes it a great spot for Aurora hunting. For last minute Aurora hunting on a clear night you might very possibly catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights by the Old harbour downtown. SKY Restaurant & Bar is located on the 8th floor at Centerhotel Arnarhvoll across from Harpa music hall and has a breathtaking view over the Old Harbour. Tonight might be the perfect night to grab a bite or a cocktail while experiencing one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Keep in mind that as a Centerhotel guest you receive 10% discount of the food menu.

Happy Aurora hunting!

Berjamó

Posted on Categories Food, Iceland, NatureTags ,

Lately you may have heard Icelanders talk about ‘Berjamó’ with great enthusiasm.

That is because right now is berry picking season in Iceland and Berjamó is what we in Iceland call the activity of picking berries. It is a popular activity amongst Icelanders of all ages during late summer/early fall season. You may be asking why, and reasonably so..

Well, for some Icelandic families berjamó is a yearly tradition and a fun way to end the summer. Families gather, young and old, in the beautiful Icelandic nature and look for some ripened blueberries and crowberries to pick. Everyone has their own bucket and picks away, some families even create fun games and ‘who picks the most’ contests.  At the end of the day a serious jam session will take place at home where all the day’s pickings will be thrown into a pot and made into a delicious berry jam, pies or just served alone with some sugar and whipped cream. Yum!!

The best berry picking regions are generally in the north and north west, but there are also some great berry picking areas around Reykjavík. Heiðmörk recreational area is one and if you don’t find berries; it’s still worth the visit as Heiðmörk has great walking trails and cozy picnic spots. The slopes of Mt. Esja can also be good for berry picking and again worst case scenario you can always enjoy a spectacular Esja hike.

If you don’t have the time or ambition for Berjamó, you should be able to find fresh Icelandic blueberries this time of year at most major grocery stores. We also highly recommend stopping by Ísafold Restaurant and trying the September cocktail of the month ‘Blueberry Glacier’. Ísafold Restaurant is located at centerhotel Þingholt.  

Happy Berry Season!

Explore the majestic Snæfellsnes Peninsula

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Snæfellsnes Peninsula is 90 km long and features tall and dramatic cliffs that have been shaped by volcanic ash and glacier erosion. The peninsula is home to a majestic nature and rich culture and the communities of Snæfellsnes Peninsula were the first in Europe to receive certification from Green Glove, an international benchmarking system for sustainable travel and tourism.

On the tip of the peninsula is the Snæfellsjökull National Park, the country’s youngest national park and only park in Iceland that is situated at the coast. It features sites like the mystical glacier Snæfellsjökull, an inactive volcano and Djúpalónssandur or the black Lava Pearl Beach. There you will find peculiar rock formations, one which has a large hole in the middle and by looking through it you will see Snæfellsjökull..great place to stop and take a photo.

Mineral springs can be found at various places, such as at the farm Ölkelda and at Lýsuhóll, which has a thermal pool with naturally-carbonated water.  

Hellnar is an old fishing village on Snæfellsnes peninsula right beneath Snæfellsjökull glacier and a popular travel destination. There is a hotel and a cafe and a visitors center for the national park.  At Hellnar you will also find a large freestanding rock with one of Iceland’s most peculiar cave called Baðsofa with colorful interior walls that vary according to it’s exposure to light and tide.  If you are into photography then check out the Hellnar church which is build on a very picturesque site.

Arnarstapi is another village and was an important trading post in the past. Today it attracts many travelers, and there is a camping ground, guesthouse and a restaurant. At Arnarstapi you can arrange tours to Snæfellsjökull and you can also tour an 8000 year old cave called Vatnshellir Cave, that was created by volcanic eruption from a nearby crater.  This is the volcano that Otto Lidenbroch and his nephew descended into and started their adventures in the famous 1864 science fiction novel ‘Journey to the center of the Earth’ by Jules Verne.

Skarðvík beach is a cove located on Snæfellsnes peninsula, surrounded by cliffs, with white sand and blue waters. A number of hiking trails lead to and from the beach over the lava fields.

Finally when visiting Snæfellsnes Peninsula, make sure to ask about the tales and old ghost sagas about the area’s extraordinary happenings, which has given this beautiful area a mystical energy.

You can book your trip to Snæfellnes Peninsula right here.

Enjoy the mystic Snæfellsnes!

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!