Published July 28, 2015
The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba—Íslendingadagurinn—celebrates Icelandic culture and heritage through a fun, family-friendly four-day event, held every August long weekend in Gimli, Manitoba, Canada. You should definitely come join us in the heart of New Iceland this weekend (Friday, July 31,,2015 – Monday, August 3) as we celebrate our 126th festival. To entice you, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten reasons why Icelanders should experience the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. Read on, then come join the party—or risk a severe case of FOMO (“fear of missing out”).
It’s free (mostly)
Save your hard earned krónur, because with the help of our volunteers, sponsors and supporters we are able to offer many of our events for free, or at low cost. That’s a lot of leftover Brennivín money.
Connect with (mooch off of) your long-lost Icelandic relatives
If you trace back your Icelandic roots far enough, we’re sure you’ll be able to find a distant relative willing to host you on their couch for the weekend! Manitoba is home to the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland: according to Statistics Canada an estimated “26,000 people with Icelandic ancestry live in Manitoba”.
Enjoy Icelandic-Canadian cuisine
Stop by the Icelandic Culture and Heritage Pavilion at Gimli Park and grab a pönnukaka, or visit Kenny, the friendly Icelandic butcher at Tip Top Foods, for a bite of rúllupylsa. There are no whales around here, and the horses are only for riding, but you can try our delicious Manitoba pickerel, caught fresh daily by the local fishermen.
There’s really good music
Every year we host a talented line up of musicians on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, for FREE! We feature bands from North America and Iceland. This year’s roster is especially noteworthy, featuring acts like Duotang, Somebody Language, EMBASSYLIGHTS, The D. Rangers and more.
We mean “hot” in the most literal sense. Summer in Manitoba is something to be celebrated, with average temperatures during the festival averaging between 23°C and 28°C. Bring your bathing suits, and put your gaggó swimming skills to the test at beautiful Gimli beach. Oh, and don’t forget the SPF 100 for your porcelain Nordic complexion.
Embrace your inner-Viking
In an effort to be inclusive, we invite a few dozen Vikings to attend the Icelandic Festival, and even let them bring their weapons. The Vinland Vikings, a skilled re-enactment group, set-up their MTS Viking Village at the Gimli Harbour and demonstrate the lifestyle and culture of ninth and tenth century Western European nations.
Get fit, have fun
For you athletic types looking to burn off some vínarterta, there are a variety of fun and perspiration-inducing activities to participate in, including; beach volleyball, shot-put, a sandcastle contest, fun runs and road races.
Prepare your Icelandic eyes to be dazzled by our local vendors’ and merchants’ crafts, food, jewellery, art and products. Take home your very own souvenir of Íslendingadagurinn from our dozens of vendors that set-up shop in Gimli Park for the weekend to sell their unique wares.
You’ll be one of the revered few that can pronounce “Íslendingadagurinn”
We love Icelanders!
What better way to authenticate our festival than to import Icelanders. We regularly welcome Icelandic consulates, dignitaries, musicians and students to Íslendingadagurinn. On his recent visit to Gimli, Icelandic Professor of the Arts, Guðmundur Oddur Magnússon, Goddur, exclaimed, “Nowhere in the world is Icelandic culture celebrated as much, and nowhere in the world is Iceland loved as much as in Manitoba!”
Jenna Boholij is a Board Member of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. If you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out!
Fun coincidence alert: Grapevine’s founding editor Valur Gunnarsson has been hanging out with Western-Icelanders in North America lately. You should read about his attempts to celebrate June 17 in Toronto. And then you should read about that time he hung out in Gimli. And THEN you should read about his encounters with the Goolies.