Aldrei fór ég suður (“I never went south,” in English) is an annual music festival in Ísafjörður that’s gone from strength to strength since it began in 2004. In the wilderness of the Westfjords, this remote town of a little under 3,000 people comes alive every Easter with three days of free music, its population almost doubling over the weekend with visitors arriving from Reykjavík and beyond. Birna Jónasdóttir, one of the festival’s organisers, explained to us the town has reached its limit with regards to attendance, as the main issue is the limited amount of accommodation. “This isn’t the sort of festival you can just pitch up a tent,” she explained, “but I like it better that way. It means the people who come are really serious about the festival, because they have to plan ahead.”
Eclectic musical mix
This year’s musical line-up includes Rythmatik, a fresh-faced band with real rock ‘n’ roll vibes, electro-pop goddess Karó, and new-classic punk band Börn (“Children”). There’s a real mix of genres, so the lineup is sure to have something to please even the most particular music snob. From Kött Grá Pje, described by Sónar Reykjavík as “the gender-bending, cat-loving Messiah of Icelandic hip-hop,” to The Brass Band of Ísafjörður, who will open this year’s festival, Aldrei fór ég suður is a true celebration of music, in all its forms.
Small town community, big town mentality
It’s also a celebration of the town itself. Ísafjörður is grateful to the festival for putting it on the map, even going as far as naming a street after it. The event organisers I spoke to all offered the same explanation for their involvement: just friends of friends, helping each other out, sharing the love of their town and its close-knit community. The music almost becomes secondary to Ísafjörður itself. You will fall in love with this tiny town, and after the festival is over you won’t want to leave.