The Top 10 Winter Festivals in Iceland

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This guide highlights the top 10 winter festivals that capture the essence of the Icelandic soul.

From the mesmerising displays of the Northern Lights to the melodic harmonies of local
musicians, the Icelandic winter festivals present a thrilling atmosphere of art, music, and

Reykjavik city by night by a small stream with northern lights dancing above the city and the John Lennon peace tower shining bright

Permit us to guide you through these seasonal celebrations and transform your travels
into a wondrous voyage of enchantment and discovery.

Embrace the frost with us as we delve into the enchanting heart of Icelandic winters.

1.Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival

Celebrated annually in February, the Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival is a captivating event welcoming the gradual return of sunlight after the long, dark winter months.

The festival encompasses an array of activities, including museum exhibitions, open-air concerts, and spectacular light displays set against iconic city landmarks.

A true testament to Iceland´s thriving arts and cultural scene, this festival is a must-visit for those wishing to experience Icelandic creativity at its finest.

Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik Iceland with white sky behind
A silhouette of a person filming

2.Dark Music Days

Dark Music Days is a renowned annual contemporary music festival held in Reykjavík since 1980.

Taking place during the darkest period of the year, usually in January and early February, the festival showcases cutting-edge new music from Icelandic and international composers and musicians.

An eclectic mix of performances ranging from chamber music to electroacoustic and avant-garde jazz, Dark Music Days offers a unique insight into the world of contemporary music during the heart of the Icelandic winter.

The Icelandic Twelfth Night

Symbolising the end of the Christmas season on January 6th, Þrettándinn is a traditional Icelandic celebration steeped in history, folklore, and mystique.

On this night, Elves, Trolls, and other hidden beings are said to come out and revel in the Icelandic countryside.

Community celebrations include bonfires, fireworks, and performances of enchanting Icelandic folk tales.

These festivities are held at various locations, further emphasised by the fascinating aura of the Icelandic winter nights.

Christmas decoration in Reykjavik Iceland with Hallgrimskirkja church in the backdrop
Man cheering on a concert

4.Iceland Airwaves Music Festival

Originally launched in 1999 as a talent showcase for emerging musical acts, Iceland Airwaves Music Festival has since evolved into one of the prominent annual music events in the country.

Held in November, the festival hosts a variety of local and international bands and musicians across genres such as alternative pop, electronica, and indie folk.

Taking place in multiple venues across Reykjavík, festival-goers can experience a broad spectrum of exciting musical talent amidst the striking beauty of wintertime in Iceland.

5.Days of Darkness

While Iceland is renowned for its extraordinary natural landscapes, the country also fascinates with its intriguing and complex history.

Held over the last weekend of November, Days of Darkness commemorates the Icelandic Witch Trials that took place between 1625 and 1683.

During the festival, performances and re-enactments by local theatre groups, alongside academic lectures and guided tours, allow visitors a deeper understanding of the fear and superstitions that prevailed during this period.

Man standing in front of Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland in a dark night setting
Rainbow street in Reykjavik Iceland

6.The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF)

The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF) is an annual celebration of the best of international cinema, taking place in late September and early October.

Showcasing an array of critically acclaimed feature films, documentaries, and shorts from around the globe, RIFF invites cinephiles to discover new cinematic voices and perspectives, as well as engage with festival guests through panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and workshops.

7.Stockfish Film Festival

In February, film enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the Stockfish Film Festival, which brings Icelandic and international filmmakers together to present their work amid vibrant screenings and workshops.

Celebrated for its emphasis on collaboration and artistic development among industry professionals, the festival highlights the growing importance of the Icelandic film scene and showcases Icelandic creativity across various genres.

Small cabin in a grassy hill in Reykjavik Iceland
Woman stretching her feet above her head

8.Reykjavík International Games

The Reykjavík International Games showcases the very best of Icelandic and international athleticism every January.

This multi-sport event attracts participants from around the world to compete in various indoor and outdoor competitions in categories such as swimming, gymnastics, and even archery.

This event provides visitors with the opportunity to witness the competitive spirit and sporting talent of Iceland in the midst of its winter season.

9.The Icelandic Beer Festival

Celebrated in February, The Icelandic Beer Festival highlights Iceland´s burgeoning craft beer scene, with local breweries presenting their finest brews accompanied by live music performances.

A celebration of the 1989 end of the
country´s stringent alcohol prohibition, the festival is a lively event where visitors can sample unique beers and ales while celebrating Icelandic culture and industry.

Man holding a glass of beer
Delicious food on a table

10.Food and Fun Festival

The Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival takes place in late February or early March and sees some of the world´s most talented chefs gather in the Icelandic capital.

In collaboration with local restaurants, these culinary artists create exclusive menus using only Icelandic ingredients, providing an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Cooking competitions and festivities round out this scrumptious event.

Embrace Winter´s Magic:
Your Ticket to Icelandic Festivities

By embracing the frost and discovering these fascinating winter festivals, travellers can delve into the Icelandic cultural spirit that thrives even during the colder months.

Offering a rich tapestry of artistic expressions, historical events, and immersive traditions, these festivals showcase the beauty and resilience of Icelandic ingenuity and creativity amidst its unique and captivating winter landscape.

As we´ve journeyed through the remarkable array of winter festivals in the Land of Fire and Ice, it has become apparent that Iceland´s ingenuity, creativity, and cultural depth truly come to life amid the country´s enchanting winter landscape.

By casting our gaze toward these celebrations, we unveil a rich and diverse tapestry of experiences intricately linked with Iceland´s history, traditions, and innate beauty.

Sunset view over Reykjavik city with basalt column church Hallgrimskirkja in the middle

In order to unlock the full potential of your Icelandic adventure, allow Slice of Iceland to act as your compass and guide, directing you towards the festive experiences of your dreams.

Our commitment to providing unique travel insights, expert tour selection, and an
effortless booking experience ensures your time in Iceland is beyond compare.

Through Slice of Iceland, we connect you with Iceland adventure tour companies and help you embark on your winter journey and the magical realm of Icelandic winter festivals.

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