Iceland's Festival Season: Flying Balls & Indoor Demons

Iceland’s Festival Season: Flying Balls & Indoor Demons

Published June 11, 2019

Iceland’s Festival Season: Flying Balls & Indoor Demons
Rex Beckett

Iceland might not be the best country in the world for camping, but that doesn’t stop us from putting on a fun and diverse array of summer music festivals. Most of them are built around Icelandic acts, with a focus on intimate crowds, creative music, and an atmosphere of camaraderie, often set in beautiful and idyllic countryside locations. Here are seven of our most anticipated events in Iceland’s festival season.

Photos of general crowd atmosphere at Secret Solstice Music Festival 2014 in Reykjavík, Iceland. June 22, 2014. Copyright © 2014 Matthew Eisman. All Rights Reserved

Secret Solstice
June 21st-23rd, Reykjavík,
The largest and most mainland European-style summer festival in Iceland is Secret Solstice. Held in the Laugardalur neighbourhood of Reykjavík, it was originally a (mostly) dance music-oriented event, but has diversified to include everything from pop to stadium rock to hip-hop and heritage acts. This year, the headliners are The Black Eyed Peas, Patti Smith, Pussy Riot, Sugarhill Gang, Rita Ora and Robert Plant, and there’s a supporting roster of Icelandic bands. It’s a full-commitment dancing-‘til-dawn kind of thing. Don’t forget to hydrate, y’all.

Iceland's festival season

5th-7th July, Borðeyri,
The young-scene DIY festival of the year is Hátiðni. Run by the Post-dreifing arts and music collective, it’s a free-spirited event with performers booked from an open call—the application post invited any kind of recording, even one made on a phone. Expect chaos, lo-fi, passion, polite partying, and a lovely, good-spirited atmosphere. Performers include: The Beeves (US), bagdad brothers, Sideproject, IDK | IDA, Skoffin, and many more.

10th-13th July, Neskaupstaður, Info:
Held in an otherwise quiet and idyllic Eastfjords town, this is Iceland’s longest running metal and rock festival. For 14 years, the event has been bringing raucous headbangers of all sorts to transform Neskaupstaður into a loud, wild party. It’s best known for bringing together the best of Iceland’s hard scene, with bands like Sólstafir, Kontinuum, and Skálmöld playing regularly, as well as renowned and varied international acts like Kreator, Napalm Death, Meshuggah, and Dillinger Escape Plan. Ranging from black metal to hardcore to good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, it’s truly a place for absolute debauchery surrounded by the very friendly metal community.

July 14th-21st, Seyðisfjörður, Info:
An unusual, lively arts festival with a vibrant and unpredictable week-long programme and an electric atmosphere, LungA in Seyðisfjörður is an event like no other. Participants engage in various workshops, getting directly involved with making the art that will be on display. This makes for a strong sense of community—it’s an environment where anything can, and usually does, happen. The finale is two nights of outdoor concerts. This year the lineup is a who’s who of local faves, including Grapevine Music Award winners GDRN, Hatari and bagdad brothers, as well as Kælan Mikla, Briet, and more still to be announced.

July 27th, Borgarfjörður Eystri, Info:
A down-to-earth summer party in one of the most picturesque villages in Iceland, Bræðslan brings together the mainstream pop acts of the moment—which, in the current climate, basically means R’n’B and rap—with classic bands of yesteryear. AUÐUR will bring out his sensual pop—and probably his oft-seen six pack—alongside collaborator and R’n’B star GDRN. Dr. Spock bring the metal—and the rubber gloves—and clean-cut duo Jón Jónsson and Fríðrik Dór bring the family-friendly pop. Take a tent, or book accommodation ahead, and be ready for the alarming mountain roads that you’ll need to traverse to get there. 

August 2nd-4th, Laugarbakki, Info:
This non-profit DIY underground music festival is a genuine escape into absolute buttfuck-nowhere to enjoy the most cutting edge and up-and-coming weirdos in the Icelandic music scene. You’ll find all the punk, hardcore, synthpop, metal and noise music you could ask for. Technically not even in a “town”, the festival entirely revolves around a small community centre and campground and has a capacity of about 250 people. Everything in this festival happens through community and collaboration, from the technical work to the cooking and cleaning. The sense of bonding and love is strong. A true paradise for peaceful freaks.

August 2nd-4th, Reykavík (Venue tba), Info: 
This festival falls on the Merchant’s Weekend, when most of Reykjavík goes out to the countryside for a few days to barbecue in the spitting rain and pretend that summer is real. Those who don’t escape the city, however, are treated to a weekend of great music at Innipukinn (“Innipukinn” translates to “indoor demon,” and is a term for kids who don’t like to play outside). In recent years, the festival has been held at Húrra and Gaukurinn, with the street of Naustin temporarily grassed-over so that terminal 101 rats can get some of that festival feeling. This year’s venues and lineup will be announced in June, so keep ‘em peeled.

Read more about Icelandic music here.

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