Reykjavik has a myriad of activites this winter – read on for more in this guest post by Lisa Gail Shannen from Reykjavik.com!
Apart from the sensational Northern Lights displays, the super-fresh-and-frisky air, the I-can’t-believe-this-came-out-of-a-tap water and the proximity to countless rock stars of nature, there are plenty of other reasons to come and visit us here in Reykjavík this season and perhaps indulge in a little culture and cuisine as well. Here’s a quick round up of events and activities we’re especially looking forward to.
THE REYKJAVÍK INTERNATIONAL GAMES: Jan 15th – 25th
After all that indulging over the Christmas period it’s a good time to get out there and catch an intense dose of sports fever, which is particularly contagious during the Reykjavík International Games. This year’s event (spread over the course of two weekends) marks the 8th year the games are hosted in the city and features a great number of sporting events: everything from archery and swimming to figure skating.
SNOW SPORTS AT BLJAFJÖLL — THE BLUE MOUNTAINS: Jan – April/May
Soak up the stunning scenes of an Icelandic winter at the Bláfjöll (Blue Mountain) ski resort in Reykjavík and join the jibbers and accomplished knuckle-draggers who are so busy shreddin’ power and kickin’ up crust, they don’t even notice the Northern Lights dancing wildly above them. The resort is located about 30 minutes from the city centre and is well connected with frequent bus services leaving from the BSI bus station in the city centre. It’s been a bumper year for snow so far this season and it’s already open for business. It usually stays open until around May; give or take a couple of weeks. Those who love to travel light will be pleased to know they have plenty of quality equipment for hire.
Tip: always check ahead for conditions and equipment availability before travelling.
During the first weekend of the Old Icelandic Calendar month of Thorri Icelanders celebrate the mid-winter festival known as Thorrablót (Þorrablót), where the living descendants of Vikings take to feasting on a peculiar mixture of singed lamb heads, cured ram’s testicles and an assortment of other bizarre looking delicacies. Of course there are plenty of opportunities in Reykjavík to sample the new Nordic cuisine, but if you’re after something a little more traditional, then you might like to try something from the Thorrablótmenu. For such a daring culinary mission, I highly recommend Restaurant Reykjavik, whose chefs have now twice impressed me with their ability to make scary food taste good.
RAINBOW REYKJAVIK: Jan 29th – Feb 1st
You know you’re in a remarkable place, full of open-minded people, when your capital city hosts, not one, but two glittering Pride festivals. The upcoming winter version, known as Rainbow Reykjavík, is set to take place between Jan 29th – Feb 1st and promises an absolutely fabulous programme full of exciting excursions to some of the country’s most celebrated natural wonders, plus the opportunity to experience the hospitality of Reykjavik’s wonderful velvet mafia. By the way you don’t need to be gay to enjoy this stay in Iceland. There are still a few Rainbow Reykjavik 2015 flight and accommodation packages left for those who’d like to join the party.
THE REYKJAVÍK WINTER LIGTHS FESTIVAL: Feb 5th – 8th
If you’re in town from 5th-8th February, you’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous Winter Lights Festival, which is organised annually by the wonderful team at VisitReykjavík. This 4-day event celebrates the last of those long polar nights with impressive light installations, music concerts and the ever-popular ‘Museum’ and ‘Swimming Pool’ nights.
SÓNAR REYKJAVIK: Feb 12th – 14th
The Sónar festival is a rather tasty musical import from Spain with a focus on advanced music and new media art. Apart from their native event (celebrated in June every year) the festival has been successfully exported to many other cities around the world, including Iceland. This much-anticipated event will be the third and final year it’s hosted in Reykjavík and its impressive programme will be accommodated at the Harpa Concert Hall. Icelandair, which has a long history of supporting exciting music projects, have put together their SÓNAR REYKJAVIK 2015 package deal for dedicated Sonar pilgrims.
REYKJAVÍK BAR SUMMIT: Feb 23th – 26th
From the 23th – 26th of February, the engaging world of the international cocktail-making community will be celebrated at the new Reykjavík Bar Summit, where guests and master mixologists from bars in Europe and America will meet in Reykjavík to compete, party and share their creative skills.
FOOD & FUN FESTIVAL: Feb 25th – March 1st
Things are hotting up in preparation for the upcoming annual Food & Fun Festival where master chefs from across the world will meet in Reykjavík to participate in a feast of creativity. A number of top city restaurants are set to take part in this year’s event, each hosting a critically-acclaimed chef. Apart from the annual cookout, where chefs compete for the much-coveted Food & Fun Chef of the Year Award, the league of chefs will be charged with the task of concocting new dishes for their host restaurants, using Icelandic ingredients only. If you’re planning on dining out in Reykjavík during the festival, then check out their website for updates on what’s on offer and where. Tip: Book in advance to make sure you get a table. Bon appétit!
GETTING TO REYKJAVÍK!
Be sure to book your flights with Icelandair — especially if it’s your first time —; it’s all part of the remarkable Iceland experience.