Iceland is well known for its natural wonders and the stunning beauty of its landscapes. But what you may not be aware of is the thriving music scene and numerous festivals the country offers. The wide variety of events catering to an eclectic collection of tastes. Lovers of rock, heavy metal, folk music, and more can easily find an Iceland music festival to attend during their visit.
Iceland festivals: Time to play
There are so many different festivals in Iceland. Depending on the time of year, you'll find Swamp Soccer, medieval Viking festivals, and even a Fish Festival. During the summer months especially, the country comes alive as people shake off the cold of winter and head outdoors. The music scene here is robust, offering something for both underground and pop genres, and it's reflected in Iceland music festivals.
Iceland music festivals
Of all the different Iceland festivals you could attend, perhaps the ones with bands playing are among the best. There's nothing like rocking out with your friends to big-name acts like Of Monsters and Men, Kaleo, or Sigur Rós. And it's not just Iceland music that's featured. The international lineups of some of our most famous music festivals feature bands, singers, and DJs from around the world. If you're thinking of buying tickets for an Iceland music festival in 2020 or beyond, here are a few to consider.
Iceland Airwaves: The ultimate Iceland music festival
In the fall, the cold season begins and the Northern Lights descend upon our small Nordic island. This can only mean one thing: it's time for the ultimate Iceland music festival in November. The Iceland Airwaves Festival began back in 1999 at an airplane hangar in Reykjavik Airport. It has only grown in popularity since, and the lineup for the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival always features well-known names. Performers like Florence and the Machine, Vampire Weekend, Björk, Mumford & Sons, Thievery Corporation, and The Flaming Lips have performed at its venues.
Secret Solstice: The summertime Reykjavik festival
Perhaps you and your and travel companions have decided to rent a car in Iceland during the time of the Midnight Sun. If that's the case, then you need to attend the Secret Solstice Music Festival held in Reykjavik. Secret Solstice happen at the peak of summer, usually around June 21st or 22nd. It's three days of music and partying to celebrate the fact that the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
Much like Iceland Airwaves, this Reykjavik festival also features acts from around the globe. Some headliners this year included the Black Eyed Peas, Robert Plant, Jonas Blue, Pusha T, Patti Smith, and Pussy Riot. You definitely don't want to miss out on the action during this Iceland music festival in June.
Aldrei fór ég suður: The Easter Iceland festival
If your vacation plans bring you to Iceland around Holy Week or Easter, consider taking in Aldrei fór ég suður. It's a music festival held every year over Easter weekend in the beautiful town of Ísafjörður. The gorgeous backdrop of the dramatic Westfjords region gives you reason enough to visit the town. This particular Iceland festival was the creation of father son duo Guðmundur Kristjánsson and singer Mugison.
They came up with the idea after attending a 2003 London Music Festival and named it after a Bubbi Morthens song. Began in 2004, it has since become one of the favorite ways for Icelanders to spend their Easter weekend. The population of the town temporarily swells to enjoy free music. Yes that's right, I said free. There is no entrance fee and the bands don't get paid. it's all about sharing the experience and enjoying the music.
Other Music Festivals in Iceland
These are some other music festivals that cater to specific tastes. Metalheads, EDM fans, and folk music lovers alike will find something to enjoy.
Bræðslan music festival in East Iceland
The Braedslan (Bræðslan) music festival is another one that takes part in a remote portion of the country known for its fjords. But this time, we head east towards Borgarfjördur Eystri. There are only about a hundred and ten people living in this tiny village most of the time. But once a year music fans descend upon the small-town to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and friendly people. While the focus is mostly modern Icelandic rock music, there have been some international acts as well.
Perhaps one of the most interesting tidbits about this festival is that it takes place in an old fish rendering factory. But before you ask, don't worry; your nose can't tell.
Sonar music festival Iceland
If you're looking for an Icelandic electronic music festival, then look no further. Much like Sónar Barcelona, the Icelandic version is a must-do on the circuit for electronic music lovers. There are light installations and concerts at Harpa Concert Hall which serve to illuminate the shows of artists like Skrillex and Major Lazer. This festival is also held during Northern Lights season, so remember to be on the lookout for the Aurora Borealis while going to and coming from the venue. What a perfect way to end the night.
Eistnaflug: The heavy metal Iceland music festival in July
During the second weekend in July, metalheads descend upon the East Icelandic town of Neskaupstaður. Since 2005, this has been the biggest Icelandic heavy metal, rock and indie music festival. Get those mohawks ready to come join your fellow lovers of Iceland music festivals and rock out.
I just want to relax!
For those who aren't quite ready to face the moshing masses, there are also some more low-key events. Check out the Reykjavik Jazz Festival, the Reykjavik Blues Festival, or the Reykjavik Folk Festival.
What's the coolest Iceland music festival?
Whether you like the more traditional indoor setting of a concert hall like Harpa or prefer thrashing around a mosh pit, Iceland has something for you. If you'd like to check out everything that's on offer broken down on a month-by-month basis, you can find a full list here. See which music festivals catch your eye, and then start planning your trip. It's likely that some of your favorite bands have come here as part of an Iceland music festival. Who knows; maybe you'll be able to catch them in concert.