Friday is more than June 17 – it’s also Iceland’s Independence Day.
Commemorating Iceland moving from being a colony with home rule to a fully independent republic in 1944, only Christmas tops June 17 in terms of importance to Icelanders. Many, if not most, non-essential services are closed on this day, and those unfortunates who must show up for work on this day are paid close to double their salary.
The highlight of June 17, though, is an enormous parade that snakes its way through downtown Reykjavík, culminating in an outdoor concert at the foot of Arnarhóll. For the more patriotically inclined, there are also speeches and solemn ceremonies at Austurvöllur.
If you like flags, having the day off work, and eating loads of junk food, then June 17 is the holiday for you. Those who will be in the countryside on this day, do not despair: the holiday is celebrated universally, in every town, village and hamlet around Iceland.