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Everything you need to know about the Reykjavík Culture Night!

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What is it?

Reykjavík Culture Night will take place for the 21st time August 20. 2016! Culture Night’s motto is “Come on in”, referencing Icelanders’ old custom of hospitality. The festival celebrates the vibrant and diverse culture of the city of Reykjavík, inviting everyone to come down to the city centre and join in.

This year, a new tradition is starting as Reykjavík has offered another town in Iceland to participate in the festival as a special guest. Ísafjörður, a town in the Westfjords will send it’s representatives to Reykjavík to showcase the music, culture, food and traditions of the Westfjords.

Where is it?

The festival takes place in the city centre and is celebrated everywhere you go downtown – from Hlemmur to the old harbour.

This year, a special spotlight is on the old harbour district, a stone’s throw from the city centre. The area, former home of the Reykjavík fishing industry, has recently become the most exciting district of Reykjavík, with new restaurants, shops, cafés and artist workshops popping up seemingly every other day, while still retaining more than a whiff of the dockside charm.

How do I get there?

Most streets downtown will be closed to car traffic on Culture Night (see map). Instead, the city bus, Strætó, is free of charge. The buses will run on traditional schedule until 10:30pm. From 11pm there will be special routes from the city centre to the suburbs. Last journeys will be at 1am. Due to the street closures, buses will stop on Gamla Hringbraut (BSÍ bus stop) and run to and from Hlemmur bus station.

Taxis will stop at four locations, Hallgrímskirkja, Skúlagata, BSÍ and the Landakotskirkja parking lot and handicapped parking will be at Hallgrímskirkja.

What can I expect?

Culture night has in the last 20 years become one of the city’s biggest festivals. Most of Reykjavík heads downtown and there are concerts, art shows, theatre performances, guided tours or other events in seemingly every building downtown. Some people like to check out the schedule and plan ahead but others just like to head to the centre and let the fate decide. Some fixed points in the schedule always draw big crowds; the open houses offering waffles, the Rás 2 concert on Arnarhóll and last but not least, the fireworks display that ends the programme.

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The Festival AreaThe pink streets are closed to cars for the day and the yellow represent the city bus routes. Remember, the bus is free of charge on Culture Night!
Culture Night

The Maze of Yggdrasil

Walk down towards Grandi by the old harbour, and you will find a strange wooden structure has grown out of the stony ground. One adult at a time (or one child + adult) will be admitted every two minutes into the Maze of Yggdrasil, in which you’ll encounter strange and exciting environments, loosely themed around the locations described in the Nordic mythology. Performances and characters will appear throughout the day, return visits are always worthwhile. The maze opens to the public for the first time on Culture Night but aims to remain open until September, expanding and changing over time. The maze is the work of Icelandic/British company Huldufugl, who merge theatre and technology to create immersive, interactive events.

Kítón concert

Concert at Bryggjan Brewery organised by KÍTÓN, Iceland’s organisation of women in music. The event will start with a delicious brunch at Bryggjunni, and then a number of female musicians will take over the stage, starting at 14.00, and into the night.

Culture night
Culture Night

Krás street food festival

At fógetagarðurinn, the Krás street food festival will take place. Restaurants from all over Reykjavík, high-end and casual, prepare their version of street food and drinks. The food market is open from 1-6 pm.

Culture and food from the Westfjords

This year the town of Ísafjarðarbær will be Reykjavíks special guest on Culture night and because of that there will be an event from 13:00-18:00 in Reykjavík´s City Hall were guests can get to know culture from Westfjords. Music, art, pancakes and taste of food from Westfjords.

Culture Night
Culture Night

Coffee and waffles in homes in Þingholt

A pleasant tradition has been established at Reykjavík Culture Night where some residents at neighborhood Þingholt offer visitors to their homes or gardens for free waffles and coffee. This year will be no different. See addresses here;
Óðinsgötu 8b Grettisgata 30 Þingholtsstræti 27 Njálsgata 25 Njálsgata 30 Hellusund 3 Ingólfsstræti 19 Bjargarstígur 17 Freyjugötu 28 Laufásvegur 20 Laufásvegur 22

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra at Harpa

On Culture Night, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra will perform two times in Eldborg main hall. Both shows are free and are open to everyone.

At 15:00 the Symphony will perform the fairy tale story about Peter and the Wolf.

The second show will start at 17:00 and will include A Russian celebration. The best of Russian classical music with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Free event. Tickets available on concert day at Harpa.

Free event. Tickets available on concert day at Harpa.

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Culture Night

Carnival at Klapparstígur

If you’re looking for some fun on Culture night, look no further than Klapparstígur. With some music from Iceland’s finest musicians and top Djs, Yoga dance party, surprise guests and a 200 metre giant waterslide, it’s the place to be! DJ Margeir, Högni Egilsson, Unnsteinn Manuel, Yoga moves, KrBear, Sísý Ey, RvkBatucada, waterslide, Dinner Beat, DJ set from GusGus and Kiasmos and surprise guests.

Milkywhale meets a whale

Scientists have been tracking her since 1992. She isn’t like any other whale. She doesn’t have friends or a family, she doesn’t belong to any tribe and she has never had a lover. Her voice is unlike any other whale, it is unique. While the rest of her kind communicate between 12 and 25hz she sings at 52hz. And that’s precisely the problem. No other whales can hear her. Every one of her desperate calls to communicate remains unanswered. Until now! The Icelandic pop band Milkywhale in collaboration with whale watching company Special Tours invites you on a whale watching-pop concert trip to find the loneliest whale in the world and sing for her. We recommend warm clothes as it does get cold out at sea. 196 places available. First come first serve, looking forward to seeing you! Duration: 50min, departure at 5.30 pm.

Whaley
Culture Night

Rás 2 concert at Arnarhóll

For many, the highlight of the Culture Night is the Rás 2 (Icelandic radio) festival concert at Arnarhóll. This outdoor concert will feature some of the biggest names in Icelandic music today so get your butt down there! As an added bonus, Arnarhóll is the best place to watch the fireworks.

The Culture Night Fireworks Show

Every year, Culture Night ends with a bang! The grand finale is the fireworks display over the Harpa music hall and the harbour. This year, the good people of the Icelandic Search and Rescue team have the honour of hosting the fireworks show. The fireworks can best be seen from Arnarhóll and Harpa.

Culture night fireworks

These are just a few of the exciting events ahead on Reykjavík Culture Night. If you want to know more about the festival or the programme, check out www.menningarnott.is .