Located in Neskaupstaður, a small town in the East Fjords of Iceland, Eistnaflug Metal Music Festival 2015 is held on the second weekend of July every year. It was held for the 10th time last year and it has grown from a small one-day thing into quite a grand four-day festival with on- and off-venue events. Neskaupstaður is about 700 km from Reykjavík, but it’s easily reachable by car; or even by flying to Egilsstaðir, the biggest town in the East, and going on from there.
I’ve been to Eistnaflug three times. The first time I only went because I got a free ticket – I was a part of a quiz team at my high school and they answered a question about Eistnaflug correctly on national TV so the founder of the festival, Stefán, got in touch with our school to invite us to join the festival. I was only 18 at the time and my mother was terribly worried. I had never listened to metal music and I didn’t really know what I was in for, but I’d heard good things and I was really excited.
To cut a long story short, I’ve been to Eistnaflug three times since and I’d love to go again! I’ll tell you why this festival keeps me wanting to go back.
#1 The Location
Neskaupstaður is such a lovely town. I love remote places and this is just perfect. It’s located on the coast of Norðfjörður Fjord, surrounded by beautiful mountains that are often shrouded by a mystical fog. The population is about 1430 people, and it more than doubles during the festival.
The locals are super nice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hitched a ride from the concert venue to the campsite (which would otherwise be about a 15 minute walk), chatting to the locals about how much they love having the festival there and how vibrant the town gets while it’s going on.
#2 The Friendly Atmosphere
I guess I had a fair bit of prejudice against heavy metal fans before going to Eistnaflug for the first time. It felt a little scary, even. But then I found out that even though the stereotypical Eistnaflug attendee can be a little scary-looking, they are just the friendliest bunch! The whole atmosphere of the festival is full of love and peace – everyone just wants to enjoy the music, have a good time and make friends.
#3 No Idiots Allowed – Official Policy
Sadly, some music festivals have a reputation of being the scenes of sexual assault cases and other awful things. However, nothing like that has ever happened in Eistnaflug and the aforementioned founder of Eistnaflug, often referred to as Stebbi Eistnaflug, has always said that if there is ever a case of rape or assault in the festival, it will never be held again.
So at Eistnaflug, most everyone works together to make everything go smoothly and the whole thing feels really safe, like being surrounded by friends.
#4 The Music
Of course the music is the most important thing and that’s what brings all those great people together in Neskaupstaður. Eistnaflug has been getting more and more ambitious through the years and among the bands that have played there are Napalm Death (UK), Triptykon (CHE) and Hamferð (FRO), as well as some great Icelandic bands such as HAM, Sólstafir and Momentum.
The organisers of the festival strive to keep the schedule diverse while still staying true to the original purpose of the festival, to promote heavy rock music. They’ve had punk, hip hop and indie rock acts playing as well, to name a few. This year’s schedule can be seen on Eistnaflug’s website.
#5 The Hangovers
The hangovers at Eistnaflug are my favourite hangovers. When you wake up in a tent and try to remember why your neck hurts so much, then realise it’s because you headbanged for 5 hours straight last night and a crowdsurfer’s elbow or foot probably hit you in the forehead at some point too.
On the way to the swimming pool you murmur “hæ” (translation: hi) to strangers you remember bonding with on a deep emotional level the night before. After soaking in the hot tub along with people whose shoulders you may or may not have sat on at a concert last night, and a burger and a beer at the concert venue you’re back to your normal, enthusiastic self and ready to take on the next evening of music and fun!
As I’m writing this I can’t understand why I’m not going this year. It’ll probably be better than ever, so if you’re into music at all, give it a shot. It’ll be well worth it. And remember Stebbi Eistnaflug’s words: Don’t be an idiot!