This upcoming Saturday, August 19th, will be the 22nd Menningarnótt or “Culture Night”, a yearly event held in Reykjavík’s city centre.
Celebrating the culture of Reykjavík and its inhabitants, Menningarnótt comprises countless events taking place over the course of the day and is one of the largest festivals in Iceland. The celebration marks the start of Reykjavík’s cultural season, with museums, theatres, and other cultural establishments kicking off their annual list of events.
The festival’s slogan is “come on in”, referencing traditional Icelandic hospitality. A large number of city residents take part in the festivities in various ways. All of the events are free of charge, ending with a spectacular firework display by the city harbour at 11 pm.
Do note that the entire downtown area will be closed for driving traffic, transforming the area into a pedestrian street. In addition, The annual Reykjavík Marathon takes place in the morning, closing streets such as Lækjargata until after noon. For a detailed plan of the closures, check out the map below.
If you’re wondering how to get downtown, just hop on the next city bus. For the duration of Culture Night, taking the bus is free of charge.
Here are some of the events we’re most excited to attend on Saturday, but the full program is available in English at Menningarnótt’s official website: www.culturenight.is.
Waffles and coffee 2pm – 4pm
On Culture night, it has become a tradition for the locals to open their doors to festival-goers and serving delicious waffles and coffee. These are the homes that are open for guests this year:
Óðinsgötu 8b, Þingholtsstræti 27,3rd floor, Ingólfsstræti 19, Hellusund 3 and Grettisgata 26.
Ást á Kex 11:11 am – 11 pm
A Festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, held at KEX Hostel on Iceland’s Night of Culture. Chocolate, music, farmer’s market, and more!
Viking Festival 1pm – 6pm
The Viking festival offers guests a chance to feel as if they have been thrown a thousand years into the past. Ships from foreign lands have come ashore and merchants have started to trade. Be prepared for storytelling, music, and fighting to be part of the entertainment.
Free Hugs 2pm – 3pm
This year is the 9th year Hlutverkasetur offers free hugs during Culture Night. They look forward to the event all year long, encouraging everyone to pass by and get a free hug, one hug or two, or even a group hug.
Meet The Songwriters 3pm – 5pm
STEF (The Performing Rights Society of Iceland) welcomes you to a cozy “rendezvous” with four songwriters in its backyard at Laufásvegur 40. These songwriters are among Iceland’s best-known musicians; Jón Ólafsson, Hildur, Valdimar and Ragga Gísla. They will individually perform their own music.
Karnival At Klapparstígur 4pm – 11pm
The Klapparstígur Karnival was a huge success last year. The most exciting part of the karnival is probably the huge waterslide down Klapparstígur street but you can also expect music from heavy hitters such as DJ Margeir, GusGus, DJ Yamaho, Högni, and others.