Downtown Reykjavík will celebrate its 11th annual Culture Night on Saturday, August 19th. This festival has become an annual event in the capital, always held the Saturday closest to Reykjavík’s birthday, the 18th of August, attracting almost one-third of the country’s population to the city centre every year.
Mayor of Reykjavík, Vilhjálmur Þ. Vilhjálmsson opens up the festival together with approximately 3,000 runners in the annual Reykjavík Marathon at Lækjargata, sponsored, this year, by Icelandic bank Glitnir. For 12 hours, the city becomes ultra-vibrant and all ages, as families crowd to celebrate all aspects of expression… and marketing. The exhibitions, short theatre pieces, the open house at Reykjavík Swimming Pool, a food tasting at Ostabúðin, fashion shows, parades, flea markets, lectures and concerts are just a sampling of the tight schedule that fills the day.
Whether it is a large art gallery, popular fashion shop or a cramped workshop in a small side street, pedestrians can almost be guaranteed to find something to spark the imagination. Add to that full-costumed Vikings marching around the centre, belly dancers shaking their hips while bongo drummers and brass bands keep up the rhythm in the streets, or radio hosts throwing a barbeque for hungry rockers, you truly will experience the whole spectrum the locals have to offer.
At 22:30, Culture Night ends with a big fireworks display out at sea, launched from the cruiser Ægir, which will be located just off Sæbraut.
Beware, after the last rocket has sparked, the family folks usually rush back to their homes. At that moment, Reykjavík tends to lose all its cultural charm so apparent during the day, as the drunk masses wander around the streets with all the proper horseplay. If you take your time and suck in the entire atmosphere, and don’t mind witnessing some rather unpleasant behaviour, Culture Night will be a day to remember and undoubtedly a night unlike any others witnessed in any world capital. Highlights of the schedule can be found in the listings section of Grapevine. SJ
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