August 20 Reykjavík Culture night
There is a theory that the cluster of celebrated writers during the 1950’s in my own hometown of Dublin because the city was, at that time, the perfect size. All the writers knew each other, and their friendships and rivalries created a kind of wordy synergy, like logs on a fire. The phenomenon is not unique, the highly unscientific theory continues and happened centuries earlier in sixteenth-century London when Marlow, Jonson, and the daddy of them all, Bill Shakespeare, were banging out the hits. I don’t know if this theory holds any water, but it often comes to mind often in Reykjavík. Bands like the eight-piece powerhouse Reykjavíkurdætur (daughters of Reykjavík), Inspector spaceman, and Cyber, among other emerging artists that pop up regularly around the city share an energy and an audience that seems a bit special. But don’t take my word for it.
Reykjavík Culture Night on August 20th offers a great opportunity to experience Local bands. It’s not just music of course, the city throws open the doors of its studios, music venues, galleries, and museums to celebrate all things cultural.
There’s so much going on that it’s not possible to see everything so it’s well worth checking out the program and making a plan – or you could just head out and follow your nose, it’s too big to miss. The Arts, you may have noticed, are quite the thing in Reykjavík, and there’s a (proportionately) huge arts community here. Culture night reflects this and has evolved from a mini festival to one of the biggest events in the Reykjavík social calendar.
The festival celebrates culture in the broadest definition, high low and middle brows are all accommodated in a program that includes popular music, dance, classical, hip – hop, jazz, techno, experimental music, food, theatre – even sport gets a look in. The schedule changes every year, but count on free concerts and a very rad fireworks display.
Concerts, big and small
Some of Iceland’s most popular musicians will be gathering up their instruments for the outdoor concerts around the city centre. Hljómskálagarður park is the location of a series of concerts over the course of the day as well as Arnarhóll hill right by Harpa Concert Hall. In addition, there are smaller gigs, performances and open houses across the city.
The grand finale of Reykjavík Culture night is the fireworks display. After a hard day’s night soaking up culture, the crowds mass by Arnarhóll hill to be mesmerised by Iceland’s biggest annual fireworks show. It starts at 11:00, when it’s just dark enough. After the display, the night is still young, and the town is all abuzz with revellers and music.
Please note that because of the festival, parts of the city centre will be closed off from traffic, so leave your car at home. To get downtown, use the bus. City buses will be free of charge during the festival but note that some bus routes might be disrupted due to street closures in the city centre.
Here’s a taste of the event schedule. For more events and information, check out www.culturenight.is.
Outdoor concert in Kexport
Check out Reykjavík’s vibrant and energetic grassroots music at Kex. Teeming bar and hostel Kex is located in a former biscuit factory. Kex (meaning biscuit) hosts regular gigs and is the spiritual home of the Reykjavík garage band. Culture night at Kex is a great opportunity to experience the fun and boundless enthusiasm of Iceland’s grassroots rock, pop and dance music scene. From 14:00 until 21:00.
Hugleikur’s adventure world by Reykjavíkurtjörn.
Theatre company Hugleikur invites guests to a program of original plays and dramas this Culture night. In between performances there’s a photobooth set up and guests can try on costumes and theatre make-up and snap off a photo or two.
A stone’s throw from the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, groovy modernist architectural gem Ásmundasalur throws open its doors and spills out onto its beautifully manicured grounds for an evening of live music and contemporary art.
Kliður in the National Gallery of Iceland
Choir and Art collective, Kliður brings together composers, visual artists, poets, performing artists and musicians. The collective’s members compose and perform each other’s work. Culture night’s performance will include a response to the collective member Margrét H. Blöndal’s exhibition Ode to Join also running in the gallery.
Closing ceremony fireworks.
The night draws to a close and the museums, galleries and studios close their doors, the masses make their way to Arnarhóll hill for the grand Finale of culture night. Going out with a bang not a whimper, all eyes turn to the heavens for a fireworks display (the northern lights have been known to show up). After that, well the night is still young, and the town is all buzzing. Show starts at 11:00, 20 Aug.