One of the best places to watch and experience the summer solstice is Grímsey, a little-known, tiny Icelandic island, located North of the Icelandic mainland. Grímsey is known for being the only place in Iceland where one can cross the Arctic Circle.
Although it was the actual day of the long-awaited summer solstice, the weather unfortunately, had a will of its own, and it was gray and windy. The festivities began in the evening at Krían, the only restaurant on the island. Krían hosted a ‘Tapaskvöld’ or Tapas evening, where they served local delicacies, like skyr, auk eggs, minke whale, and puffin. The food was followed by a free concert inside the restaurant by Lára Sóley og Hjalti with Eyþór Ingi, which received a standing ovation.
Later in the evening, everyone gathered in their warmest rain jackets and clothes for a boat tour around the island, where I crossed the Arctic Circle for the first time.
An echoing gunshot
It was different to see Grímsey by sea than by land. Many birds were flying around us, such as the arctic tern, puffin, and razorbill. One of the local fishermen, Alfreð, shot a rifle into the air. Two seconds later, hundreds of birds flew out of a cliff and over the boat.
The last event of the evening, which was to watch the solstice from the North of Grímsey, was cancelled due to the inclement weather, but this did not stop anyone from carrying on with the fun. We ventured instead into the local schoolhouse, ‘Múli,’ to drink more beer and sing along to classic Icelandic songs, accompanied by Hjalti on his guitar. The power even went out, giving Grímsey even more island charm than it already had.
22nd of June
My day began in Krían, again, but this time to watch the Iceland v. Nigeria game. Every seat in the restaurant was taken. The game was disappointing, but this did not diminish anyone’s spirits, as the weather was perfect ― sunny and windy.
In the evening there was a dinner and family party hosted in ‘Múli’ by Kvenfélagið Baugur, a women’s club on the island, where they served every kind of fish dish that one could imagine.
Due to the 45 km/hour winds and my newly discovered phobia of arctic tern attacks, I decided to witness the sun and its colours from the comfort of our guest house’s patio.
23rd of June
On Saturday, the gray and gloomy clouds had returned, but it was still a lovely day to explore more of Grímsey. I had the chance to take a selfie with friendly baby lambs, and I finally conquered my fear of the arctic tern.
In the evening there was another dinner party in the schoolhouse hosted by the Kiwanis men’s club of Grímsey, who were celebrating their 40th anniversary. All of the Grímseyingur dressed to impress, wearing heels and suits alike. Many drinks were consumed, and many laughs were shared until the early hours of the morning.
24th of June
I woke up to beautiful sunshine and blue skies for my final day in Grímsey. I explored Gallerí Sól, another local guesthouse, art gallery, and café. I then walked down to the harbour, where the local children were selling souvenirs. Our festival host, Guðrún, took us on a quick tour by car to the Northern part of the island before our ferry arrived. The weather was stunning, and I saw my first (alive) puffin, fluffy sheep, and curious horses.
The Summer Solstice Festival in Grímsey was the perfect way to experience the summer solstice. It was also the perfect opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, who each had a treasure chest of stories to tell about their exciting lives in Grímsey.