Brace yourself for Iceland’s National Day, celebrated on Sunday June 17. It was that day in 1944 that Icelanders claimed independence from their Danish oppressors. It also marks the birthday of 19th century independence movement leader, Jón Sigurðsson. The impressive schedule of events begins with the ringing of church bells in central Reykjavík at 9:55 am when a ceremonial wreath is laid on the grave of Sigurðsson.
A little later, the “Woman of the Mountains” dressed in traditional costume gives a speech at the opening ceremony on Austurvöllur. More wreaths are laid in Sigurðsson’s honour before everyone heads off to church. The less official festivities include street entertainment and music. The highlight of the day is the usually well-attended parade down Laugavegur.