The Icelandic National Day is celebrated on June 17th every year, as it is the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a leader of Iceland’s independence movement. His birthday was first officially commemorated with public gatherings in 1907, but the first general national memorial day was held on the centenary of Jón Sigurðsson’s birth, on June 17th, 1911. That day also marked the establishment of the University of Iceland. In 1944, June 17th was chosen as the founding day of the republic.
Here are some of the top ways to celebrate June 17 in Reykjavík! And don’t forget to check out our event calendar for even more festivities.
Morning ceremony at Austurvöllur
June 17 celebrations will kick off at a ceremony held at Austurvöllur, the central square in front of Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament. The ceremony will start at 11am, and it’s a good opportunity to see some local celebrities, with both President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir taking part in the festivities!
The June 17 Parade will start at 1pm by Hallgrímskirkja, the Reykjavík cathedral. A brass band will accompany the parade as it makes its way down to Hljómskálagarður, a park near the Reykjavík city pond. Rumour has it that a giant mystery troll may also join the procession!
Celebrate June 17 at Hljómskálagarður
Hljómskálagarður is a park right by the city pond, Tjörnin. If you go down to City Hall and walk along the pond, you won’t be able to miss it! From 1:30 to 5pm, there will be live music, acrobatic performances, and even a bouncy castle!
Festivities at Klambratún Park
Klambratún is the big park around the Kjarvalsstaðir Art Museum. Starting at 1pm, there will be tons of exciting activities for the whole familiy. We’re especially excited about the food trucks, but there will also be live demonstrations of HEMA fencing, a DJ, a marching band, and even more stuff for the kids!
Check out Reykjavík City Museums
In addition to all of the official festivities, many of Reykjavík’s museums will also have special events and hours for the June 17 festivities. The Árbær Open Air Heritage Museum is an especially great place to visit for June 17. They will have presentations of folk dance, bread baking demonstrations, and also a crowing of the Mountain Woman (Fjallkona) ceremony. And this year, you can get free entrance if you wear a traditional costume – it doesn’t even have to be an Icelandic one! Find out more about the museum here.