Navigating your way through Iceland’s biggest five-day party
By Rebecca Louder
While some may think of Iceland Airwaves as a festival of locals and Iceland devotees, we know that every year the city welcomes hundreds of first time visitors and hardcore music fans into its arms. And though a lot of those people have probably been to other music festivals, ours is one unlike most others!
There is a sort of magic that changes the feeling in the air and a sense that anything can happen. Yet within this electrifying spontaneity, one still wants to feel ready for whatever’s about to come. So we are here to assist you with some helpful suggestions to get you through your Airwaves sojourn!
If you work with the socially understood concept of “morning,” start your day off at Prikið’s (Bankastræti 12) Rock’n’Bacon 9AM breakfast concerts. Get yourself geared up with good music and hefty servings of bacon, eggs, American style pancakes and some of the best coffee in the biz.
Next, whether or not you have a hangover, but especially if you do, head over to the pool and take a dip. Check out Sundhöllin (Barónsstígur 45a) for its second-floor hot tubs with a great view and its indoor lap pool if you don’t want to leave 101. Otherwise, there’s Vesturbæjarlaug (Hofsvallagata) close by in 107 with a cosy atmosphere and a beautiful, cylindrical sauna, or Laugardalslaug (Sundlaugarvegur) in 105 with loads of pools, toys and slides to satisfy your inner child.
After you’ve freshened up, go grab a delicious caffeinated beverage. The delightful folks at Litli Bóndabærinn (Laugavegur 41) make their coffees from only the best of beans and offer some killer snacks, or stop by Hemmi & Valdi (Laugavegur 21) to experience classic, urban rustic charm.
Now that you’re all perky and full, it’s time to take in some local culture. If you’re a bit of a history buff, head down to the settlement exhibit at Reykjavík 871+-2 (Aðalstræti 16) to take a look at the city’s foundations and have fun with their interactive displays or go to the National Museum (Suðurgata 41), which also has a bunch of cool permanent displays of old timey costumes and installations.
Our art scene is especially not to be missed. Take a stroll along Laugavegur, Hverfisgata and Skólavörðustígur where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a gallery! Some of our favourites include the infamous Kling & Bang (Hverfisgata 42), Nýlistasafnið (Skúlagata 28), i8 (Tryggvagata 16) and Þoka (Laugavegur 25), which show high quality exhibits by local and international artists. Also, before it turns into a venue at night, the Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhús (Tryggvagata 17) has an impressive permanent collection or works by the Icelandic artist Erró who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.
And then get yourself to some gigs! The off-venue programming is bigger and beefier than ever this year, clocking in at forty locations. It will be a challenge not to find some music happening somewhere, but then again, why wouldn’t you want to find some? Come on!
It will have been dark out for hours, but eventually dinnertime will roll around and you’ll have to fill up before getting to some more gigs. Go for something delicious and fancy byway of the chic bistro SNAPS (Þórsgata 1), hearty and filling Italian food courtesy of Reykjavík’s oldest restaurant Hornið (Hafnarstræti 15), or something fast, cheap and tasty at Laundromat Café (Austurstræti 9). Check out more food recommendations from our resident gastronome Ragnar Egilsson in our info section elsewhere in this paper.
From here on out, you’re set! Find a cool bar that suits your taste to have a pre-drink, get loose and socialise with those around you and enjoy the night to come. And if you wake up in pain the following day, chug down a couple of litres of our fresh clean cold tap-water and start this process all over again. Most importantly, be cool and have a great time!
The Airwaves Scout Kit
Like the old motto goes, be prepared! Here’s a comprehensive kit of handy items to help your festival go as smoothly as possible.
For starters you will want a convenient carrying case that won’t hinder you from partying or get in other peoples’ way. The ultra-Nordic, hip and reliable Fjällräven Mini is fool proof, as is a super-trendy Herschel Supply Co. Survey bag. Of course, picking something up last minute at one of our Red Cross or Salvation Army stores is a safe bet too! Okay so now let’s get packing:
- Festival Guide booklet & Grapevine pull-out: Your two best sources of all things, people and places in the festival! Keep them with you at all times and cherish them.
- Metal, re-usable water bottle: For daytime off-venue gigs, city exploring and can double as a flask for afternoon drinking.
- Classic hip-flask: Placed strategically on one’s body, can be successfully snuck into official venues, but you didn’t hear it from us!
- Aspirin/Ibuprofen: Because hangovers can sneak up on you late in the day and unknown bands may have adverse effects.
- Lip balm and hand lotion: The air is dry, cold and bitter and when the wind starts up it blows at low, horizontal angles. Even with a scarf and gloves, your skin will beg for it.
- K-Way jacket/fold-up poncho: Again with this weather, layering up your clothes is key! You should also always be prepared for a sudden downpour.
- Camera/Smartphone: Take loads of photos! Tweet the shit out of them! Tweet them at us: @rvkgrapevine! We’ll totally re-tweet!
- Notepad and pens: Even if you’re not a critic, you never know what you’ll see or hear that can only be captured in the way of words. Or you might meet a cute writer whose ink just ran out. Wink!
- Snacks: Not that we’re complaining, but the gigs can be really long and good luck finding food in most venues. Plus, if you leave, it might take a long time to get back in.
- Condoms: If you think you’ll be out on the prowl, we cannot stress this one enough. NO GLOVE, NO LOVE.