From Iceland — Six Steps To Greatness: The Definitive Iceland Airwaves Survival Guide

Six Steps To Greatness: The Definitive Iceland Airwaves Survival Guide

Published November 4, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

So you’ve arrived in Iceland, fresh faced, brimming with anticipation to dive headfirst into Iceland Airwaves, see your favourite bands, and show off your best Hatari cosplay. But hold up, champ and heed the sage advice from those who’ve been attending the event since 2005. And by that I mean us, the Reykjavík Grapevine. 

1. Clothing

You, dear foreigner, might associate November with hayrides, cider, and fluffy woolen scarves, but in Iceland, we associate it with bitter cold, stinging gusts of wind, and rain. At the same time, the interior of a packed club is going to be warmer than Mallorca in the summer. What to do? The smart strategy is more lighter layers, preferably with a waterproof outer layer, rather than one huge coat.
Our advice: Inside, disrobe said layers to show off your fashionable Geysir duds.

2. Arrive Early

Count on the queues at venues for major acts to be ridiculously long if you arrive too late, which can be roughly half an hour before the show begins. There’s no harm in arriving early. Not only will you avoid a tedious queue; you can secure a really great spot for catching the action.
Our advice: Stuck at the back of the venue? Pretend to be pregnant and push your way through. No one will bother you. 

3. Drinking

Many rumours about Iceland are untrue, but the one about drinks costing a small fortune is not one of them. The key is to be buzzed before you even leave your hotel. Stock up at the duty free at Keflavík International Airport when you land or, barring that, pay a visit to any of Iceland’s state-owned alcohol stores. Remember: they don’t sell booze in grocery or convenience shops here, so that “beer” you see on the shelves of 10-11 is really just carbonated barley water.
Our advice: Be nice to bartenders and they’ll be nice to you. 

4. Food
It’s certainly tempting, when you’re half-blotto and downtown, to grab a greasy kebab or a slice to soak up the poison in your stomach, but that doesn’t have to be the only way you eat. Save yourself a whole lot of money and do a little grocery shopping—preferably at the discount supermarkets Bónus and Krónan. Half the fun of being in a foreign country is buying things with names that you do not understand at all. Is that tuna salad? Is it foie gras? Who knows!
Our advice: Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER. It’s a literal scam, containing the exact same water that comes out of the taps.

5. Hooking up

You may have one or more dating apps running on your phone when you land in Iceland. That’s fortunate because there will be thousands of other people with those same apps. At the same time, play it safe: keep an eye on your drink at all times, and if you witness someone doing something sketchy, do not be shy about alerting security.

Our advice: Reykjavík is the Chlamydia capital of the world. Invest in some Durex.

6. Some of us live here
Not every face downtown is that of another visiting festival-goer. Keep that in mind as you stumble drunkenly through residential areas late at night eager to show off your Orville Peck impersonation. In Iceland, we love a good party, but please treat service workers with respect, don’t litter, and don’t throw glasses.
Our advice: Don’t be an asshole.

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