Iceland is perhaps best known for its spectacular landscape, decorated with volcanoes and glaciers, earning it the name of the Land of Fire and Ice. While that might be what gets you excited about booking your trip and packing your bag, the culture will also be a fascinating highlight of your trip, if we are honest.
With a population of around 350,000 people, Iceland is a community full of musicians, artists, fishers, farmers, and tourism operators. This colorful and diverse crowd welcomes visitors to their beautiful corner of the earth and is always ready to share some Icelandic folklore with anyone who will listen.
The Arts in Iceland
Reykjavik, the country's capital city, is the hub of art and culture in Iceland. With over sixty percent of Iceland's population, you can find a never-ending selection of galleries, museums, and entertainment. It's also the perfect place to enjoy at night at the opera, theatre, and concerts by The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, which performs contemporary and classical concerts.
Throughout the year, there are many festivals in Iceland covering music, arts, and culture. Here are a few you can check out at varying times of the year:
- Iceland Airwaves - Typically held in November, this is a music festival dedicated to highlighting emerging and established national bands and musicians.
- Culture Night - Also known as 'Menningarnott,' this one-day festival takes place on a Saturday in late August and offers pop-up shops and all sorts of activities for the whole family - like dance, music, art, and games! At the end of the night, it's all wrapped up with an incredible fireworks show!
- Food and Fun Festival - Held in late February or early March each year, the Food and Fun Festival brings chefs from all over the world to showcase their skills using Icelandic ingredients. They pair up with some of the popular restaurants within the city and create a special menu that is only served for a week! It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Visiting quaint villages outside of the central city area will also allow you to see Icelandic locals making traditional arts include weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving - and really dive into the beautiful culture of Iceland.
Keeping Legends Alive
Folklore and legends live on in Iceland. With a strong mythical tradition, many people still believe in magical creatures such as elves, 'hidden people,' and trolls - just to name a few. Believe it or not, the Government even consults with elf experts before beginning any major new constructions.
Scheduling a Folklore Walking Tour is a fun way to really put yourself in the middle of Icelandic folklore and maybe even spot an elf with your own two eyes.
Sport is a big part of Iceland's culture, with athletics, handball, football, and strongman competitions being what the country has excelled at to world and Olympic levels.
If you want to get moving, hiring a local guide for trips to ice caves, The Golden Circle, geothermal pools, waterfalls, and spotting the Northern Lights is a great way to learn about Icelandic culture along the way. It also ensures you see the highlights and stay safe while exploring this wild and natural land. For more adventurous souls, a self-drive road trip is also an excellent way to meet the locals and learn about Icelandic culture.
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