Iceland Airwaves has a special way of dragging you through a happy melée of gigs, smiling faces, packed dancefloors, chance encounters and bizarre after-parties, leaving you hanging on for dear life. Disclaimer: We’re not saying these tips will make you a superhuman and somehow avoid the traditional post-Airwaves existential hangover. But hey, they’re worth bearing in mind.
This ain’t no Sónar Barcelona. Airwaves has been sliding further into the winter months for years, and you can safely bet that the November sky is gonna puke out plenty of interesting weather. So bundle up, right? Wrong. The second you get into the venue, you’ll be hit by a wall of human heat; you’ll regret the Michelin Man cosplay when you’re suddenly in the mosh pit.
Our advice: Dress in several warm layers and have a waterproof outer coat that you can easily carry. Pro tip: If you’re a total Iceland n00b, shivering in a wet denim jacket, Cintamani are renting out parkas this year, so you could try that.
Those terrifying £10/$13 beer rumours are true—drinking in Iceland is expensive. All of the liquor stores are state-run, close at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on Fridays), and tax everything heavily. Corner stores and supermarkets don’t sell booze. Given all this, skipping the duty free is practically heresy in Iceland. Duty free alcohol is not just your friend, but a sworn soul sistah for whom you’d gladly lay down your life.
Our advice: Get the maximum allowance, even if you’re tired and you’re dragging around a huge suitcase. Pro tip: Skip the Evian—Iceland’s tap water is super pure.
With chill off-venue concerts happening in the daytime, it’s easy to head out for an afternoon show feeling all fresh, see a bunch of cool stuff, and then suddenly realise the atmosphere has changed and people around you have started partying. You, my friend, have slipped into the festival proper—and you forgot dinner. This is a serious error.
Our advice: The town is full of people who are eating out, so book a table somewhere nice with your friends at 7-ish. That way you have to show up, so you’ll definitely eat. Pro tip: Reliable late night options are a pylsur at 10/11, a slice at The Deli or a falafel at Mandi.
Airwaves is a festival with no big venues. The upside is personality—you’ll find yourself watching shows in museums, churches, dingey bars, dark basements and fancy concert halls. The downside, however, is that when an act is especially popular, even the larger venues can hit capacity fast.
Our advice: If there’s one act you’d cry if you missed, get to the venue a couple of bands in advance and camp out. Pro tip: If you’re stuck in a static queue after they’ve started, skip it. Hit up a random venue and bet on a wild card. Airwaves is about discovery, not hype.
If you’ve been to the festival, drank and danced in Kaffibarinn or Paloma, and still have some wind in your sails, you’re gonna need an afterparty. After hours house-parties are standard in Reykjavík. Make friends with some fun locals and see what happens.
Our advice: You probably don’t wanna walk for miles at this stage, so if the party is outside the 101 postcode, maybe skip it. Pro tip: Rumour has it there’s a Facebook group where people will deliver you some booze.
Read more about Airwaves 2018 here.