For true music heads, Iceland presents a whirlwind of limitless opportunities, proving to be one of the most underrated music festival destinations in the world.
Let America, Britain and Australia take a backseat; when it comes to genuinely qualitative music spectacles, Iceland leads and how. Featuring music festivals that cover all dimensions of music as we know it, Iceland provides a platform for the best quality- driven acts to perform at venues that range from large scale shows to intellectual gatherings. To say it truly and fairly, Iceland has it all.
Unhinged natural beauty
Iceland is blessed with landscape that ranges from valleys, waterfalls, springs, glaciers and black sand beaches, making it one of the hottest tourist spots among not just Nordic nations, but in the world.
Mild temperatures for half of the year
Iceland is blessed with a climate that is not just moderate but is borderline cool and pleasant from summer through autumn making it not just highly habitable, but also visit-worthy. In addition to that, due to the country’s closeness to the Arctic Circle, it experiences days when the sun never sets in June, and winters where it’s barely out for a few hours.
Iceland is one of the most lightly populated countries in not just Europe but also the world; making it a country truly worth a visit if you’re looking for a holiday that can ensure reclusivity.
Icelandic music has seen pioneering movements in various genres such as post rock, indie progressive, and even local folk. Icelandic artists such as Sigur Rós, Björk, Múm, For A Minor Reflection, Of Monsters and Men, Jónsi & Alex, and Parachutes have claimed quite the credit for having appeared as part of several festival lineups. So, it’s only fair that Iceland’s music festivals would be just as brilliantly curated.
The Sherp takes a look at some of the best and most unique music festivals that Iceland plays host to, and why you must urgently check them out!
When: November 4 to 8
You needn’t ever bother with learning the annual lineup to Iceland Airwaves for you can be assured that every year, as the festival churns out the greatest mix of international and national acts. The festival, originally organised on an airplane hangar by Icelandair is today one of the most coveted music festivals in the country, as it is organised on a city-wide scale attracting not just local music enthusiasts but also music lovers from around the world. The festival today has also incorporated art and fashion, and takes place at several interesting city spots such as The Nordic House and the Reykjavík Art Museum.
(Source: Iceland Airwaves Facebook)
When: February 18 to 20
When it comes to music festivals, Sónar is nothing short of being assigned a cult status, as the two decade long festival has brought cultural and musical revolution to the country of Barcelona. The Icelandic edition of the festival, on the other hand, is a much more demure and intimate affair, as it indulges some of the best electronic music around for true fans. It’s a true redefinition of sorts, as the large scale festival truly finds respite in Iceland’s candid settings.
All Tomorrow’s Parties
With festivals aiming for monstrous size and budget, All Tomorrow’s Parties, which borrows its name from a Velvet Underground song, leans towards music that veers on the post-rock, avant-garde environment, with inclusion of even popular musical artists that promise a quality becoming for a music lover. Its first edition was curated by the brilliant post-rock collective, Mogwai in UK. The festival oscillates between several destinations but its Icelandic editions have always been brilliantly curated and popular, such as its 2015 show which was led by acts such as Belle and Sebastian, Iggy Pop, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Swans and Run The Jewels.
When: June 17 to 19
Secret Solstice (as the climatic phenomena will suggest) is organised during the longest days of the year; basically those three days in June when the set never sets in the Arctic Iceland; thereby letting people celebrate through the ‘night’. It has the distinction of being Iceland’s first truly outdoor festival as 3 days’ of sleep is given up for music that features over a 100 acts. The fact that it is the only music festival in the world where there is no night, makes it that much more incredible an experience.
(Source: Secret Solstice Facebook)
Dark Music Days
When: Jan 29 to Feb 1
As the Secret Solstice of the Winter, Dark Music Days is a cultural hotspot, as it combines the winter times when there’s barely any sun to warm things off, with incredibly satisfying music. Featuring concerts that bemon Nordic mythology and history in all its glory, the festival is a spectacular footnote of contemporary music takeaways.
I Never Went South (Aldrei fór ég Suður)
When: March 25 to 26
If you’re a music fan up for an experience that is as intimate as intimate a festival can be, then Aldrei fór ég Suður, or I Never Went South, held in the small fishing village of Ísafjörður in Iceland. The festival is borne from an extremely special sentiment – the name is taken from a song by folk legend Bubbi, which talks about everyone abandoning their small fishing village in favour of the city. It’s cozy as it promotes love for music, culture and community, and it’s free of charge.
(Source: I Never Went South Facebook and http://aldrei.is/)
Having debuted in May only this year, Saga Fest is the transformational festival Iceland always needed, as it inculcates the therapeutic powers of music and arts, even as it celebrates the power of community, sustainability and social bonhomie. Counted among Iceland’s truly spiritual experiences, Saga Fest promises profundity through its several social activities, and vibes.