Merchants' Weekend Is Here! A Guide To Entertaining Yourself - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Merchants’ Weekend Is Here! A Guide To Entertaining Yourself

Merchants’ Weekend Is Here! A Guide To Entertaining Yourself

Published July 31, 2014

We get you ready for Iceland's most festival-filled weekend

Tyler Clevenger
Photos by
Julia Staples

We get you ready for Iceland's most festival-filled weekend

Every year in Iceland, the first weekend in August is dedicated to celebrating Verslunarmannahelgi (“Merchants’ Weekend”), a labour day / bank holiday equivalent. While not everyone is actually a Merchant, every Icelander is encouraged to celebrate like the holiday is their own, with many getting three or four days off work. Though it is traditionally Iceland’s heaviest drinking weekend, there are plenty of ways for everyone to have fun, including Pride parades, spiritual programs, and swamp soccer. We highlight some of the most well-known festivals taking place this holiday weekend.

The Gæran Festival is held in the town of Sauðárkrókur in Northern Iceland. Taking place in Iceland’s only woolskin tannery, this year’s iteration includes a variety of acts, from rap to folk.

Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum, held annually in the Westman Islands, has been running as a family festival since 1872. In recent years, however, it has developed a reputation for being rather wild, verging on unsafe, which organisers have struggled to amend.

Started initially for those who want a “festival,” but also would like to crash in their own beds, Innipúkinn offers residents the chance to check out some of Iceland’s best acts, all in downtown 101.  Two of Reykjavík’s hippest venues, Húrra and Gaukurinn host this year’s fest.

Norðanpaunk (“Northern Punk”) is, true to its name, a punk festival way up North in the small town of Laugarbakki. This camping fest is a perfect blend of punk IDGAF-ness and DIY creativity and resourcefulness.

Another festival for those who don’t feel like trekking out of Reykjavík for the weekend, Bakgarðurinn takes place at Dillon Whiskey Bar in downtown RVK. For those into rocking out in Dillon’s backyard area, there is endless BBQ, beer, and a great line-up of bands.

Edrúhátíð Festival, located in South Iceland, is a sober, family-focused camping fest that includes a solid rock ‘n’ roll lineup, workshops, fresh Icelandic food, a spiritual program, and more.

Mýrarboltinn (“Swamp Soccer”) is a mudapalooza that boasts the European Swamp Soccer Championship (open for sign-ups), a great line-up of bands, rappers, and DJs, and the opportunity to party all night next to “Iceland’s biggest bonfire” with the Westfjords (pictured) as a scenic backdrop.

Ein Með Öllu (“One With Everything”—you know, like when you order a hot dog) offers a weekend of holiday fun for everyone. Located in Akureyri, this festival offers circus performances, a Pride festival, acts ranging from euro-disco to rock, and much more. With a nostalgia-tinged romance theme, Ein Með Öllu welcomes festivalgoers of all ages.

Neistaflug, located in the Eastfjords, is not to be confused with metal-fest, Eistnaflug (“Flying Testes”). Nearly complete opposites, Neistaflug (“Flying Sparks”) is romance-themed festival aimed at families.

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