8 Reasons to attend Reykjavik Culture Night [Menningarnótt]

Reykjavik Culture Night takes place on August 20th, 2011 this year; coincidentally I will be arriving in Reykjavik on August 19th, 2011. I am incredibly excited to take part in the festival and spend the entire day and night experiencing true Icelandic Culture. This years theme is “Go to Town”.

The Reykjavík Cultural Night has become an essential part of the city’s cultural scene. With the midnight sun still keeping things light for almost 24 hours, Reykjavíkites fill the streets to celebrate Iceland’s vibrant culture well into the early hours. Culture Night offers the chance to enjoy a variety of activities ranging from traditional shows and exhibitions to more unusual happenings. There are outdoor concerts, performances, fireworks and fairs, while bars, restaurants, shops and galleries stay open late to cater for the large crowds that flock to the city for these special celebrations.

Currently, the official Culture Night website itinerary has not been updated, but many of the events are annual. To get a good idea of the itinerary, you can view last year’s here.

1. The Reykjavik Marathon

The Reykjavik Marathon coincides with Culture Night, and becomes part of the event. The Marathon is scheduled to roll through town during the festival, and they work together to weave through the crowds and make the occasion that much more exciting!

2. The Photography Exhibits

There are numerous photography exhibits and galleries available for viewing during the festival. Artists will be announced closer to the date, but you can be sure to enjoy a lot of Icelandic eye candy. Most exhibits are free, and open to the public. Some exhibits are even interactive and invite you to join in with a “Date with the Past” Polaroid.

3. The Film Screenings

Dozens of films are scheduled for screenings in various tents and buildings throughout the city. Subjects range from geology and volcanic eruptions, to Icelandic history, to expeditions to Greenland. Most screenings are free, and open to the public.

4. The Food

If you do nothing else during this day of excitement, make sure that you try some of the local food! You don’t have to go as far as to cooked puffin or baked sheep’s head, but you can still try something a little tamer, like the ever-popular Icelandic hot dog (these things are everywhere in Reykjavik)! Last year free Waffles were available from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Who doesn’t love Waffles? Especially free ones!

5. The Performances and Art

Culture Night has no end to the number of performances and art displayed. Performances are scheduled or spontaneous, and are full of vibrant music and costumes. Art covers just about every nook and cranny of the city, as well as galleries and exhibits. Many pieces of art are available for purchase, and all are able to be viewed publically.

6. The City

Nevermind the festival, the City itself is worth the trip. Reykjavik is like a bright beacon of light shining out into the dark, North Atlantic Ocean. Contrary to its name, Iceland is a beautiful, mild wintered and warm summered country, with plenty to offer in terms of attractions and things to do. There is a little something for everyone in Reykjavik!

7. The Nightlife

No one is going to be sleeping, and everyone is going to be up until the late hours of the morning! The midnight sun will be lighting up the sky, and the parties will carry on throughout the entire night. It is going to be one Crazy, Cultural, Icelandic Party!

8. The Closing Ceremonies & Fireworks

Closing Ceremonies will feature concerts from popular Icelandic groups and musicians, as well as a spectacular fireworks display over the Harbour. Last year boasted an installation of 22 burning rafts, floating in the sea!

It is going to be the trip of a lifetime, and this night is really going to top it off. I cannot wait to wander through the town and see it all for myself. If you happen to find yourself in Iceland on August 20th this year, or even have some free time to book a trip, I highly recommend attending Reykjavik Culture Night.

I will be in Iceland from August 19th, until August 26th, 2011.

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16 Responses to “8 Reasons to attend Reykjavik Culture Night [Menningarnótt]”

  1. Tijmen
    May 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Good timing just arriving one day before the festival starts 🙂 I bet you aren’t planning on doing the marathon? 😛 I only got to spend a few days in Iceland, but I really loved it. Still planning on going back one day and travel around the whole country.
    Tijmen recently posted..Interview with Megan from OnMyWayRTW

    • Seattle
      May 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      No marathon for me! haha
      Perhaps you should return for the festival!

  2. Bryan Snider
    May 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow I’ve never been to Reykjavík, but this makes me want to go. Thank you for sharing such great information and beautiful pictures!

    • Seattle
      May 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

      Reykjavik has always been in my top 5, of places to go. You should go too.. I think it would be amazing in the winter too!

  3. Candice
    May 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    How are your photos so freaking awesome? Damn!

    • Seattle
      May 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      haha maybe because they are not mine! They have click through links to the sources 😀

  4. Randy
    June 20, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Wait? You are going to Niagara Falls and Iceland this summer? Oh, I am seriously jealous. I haven’t been to the former since I was kid, but I’m dying to get back. As for the latter, I was there just last year and I’m dying to get back. This festival looks awesome!

  5. Seattle
    June 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Yes, I am! I haven’t been to Niagara Falls for about 5 years, and I’m very excited to go to Iceland for the first time 😀

  6. crazy sexy fun traveler
    June 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I visited Reykjavik 2 years ago, as well in August, but there was nothing like the culture night those days. I had a lot of fun anyway. Iceland is amazing! Enjoy 😉

  7. haidahoh
    August 6, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    it just so happens I am leaving for iceland in 12 days ! Im stoked !! definetly going to check this festival out and the jazz festival too.

    • Seattle
      August 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      Woah–what timing! Maybe I’ll see you there! :]

  8. Samantha Paxton
    August 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Great choice! Seattle is the featured city at the festival this year, just the 3rd time in history that a city outside of Iceland will get that honor. Check out Bill Stafford’s photography. He is from Seattle and leading a delegation. Have fun!

  9. Visit Reykjavík
    August 17, 2012 at 5:40 am #


    Great article that we just shared on our Fb page – Reykjavík Culture Night is tomorrow.

    Visit Reykjavík

    • Seattle
      August 17, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed Culture night last year. Hope everything goes well this year 😀

      • JORDI
        October 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

        I’d like to go there one August, the time I’ve got holidays and relax a litle from the heat of Barcelona.


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