Iceland has more holidays than most other countries. Some familiar, like Christmas and Easter, others more alien, like the First Day of Summer, Eat-till-you-burst Day, and Verslunarmannahelgi, or Merchants’ Weekend in English. Let’s talk about this last one.
Merchants’ Weekend is a three-day weekend at the beginning of August. This year it takes place from August 4 till August 6. It’s the biggest travel weekend in Iceland and in many places, it’s celebrated with what is known as an útihátíð (outdoor festival), that sometimes already starts on the Wednesday before.
A steady stream of people flows out of the city with tents, guitars and Icelandic sweaters in their cars to set up camp at various festivals around the country. In this article, we will tell you about the best outdoor festivals during Merchants’ Weekend.
Swamp soccer, who has not heard of it? The European championship of swamp soccer takes place in Bolungarvík in the Westfjords.
For those who have no idea what swamp soccer is, it’s a variety of soccer that originated in Finland. The game is played in two times 12 minutes with six players on the field, and players can be substituted as often as they want.
The muddy football competition is the main event during Merchants’ Weekend in Bolungarvík, but the focus of the festival is to have fun, so there’s going to be plenty of music and partying as well.
Ein með Öllu
If you prefer your sports competitive and mud-free, there’s also the Iceland Summer Games in Akureyri, where all sort of extreme sports, endurance tests, and recreational games will take place, for people of all ages.
Examples are mountain biking, a golf tournament, mountain climbing, sailing, crossfit competitions, aqua Zumba, long and short runs, frisbee golf and more. In the evenings, there will be live music and dancing.
Innipúkinn (the Icelandic term for couch potato) is a festival in the Reykjavík city centre. It’s where the coolest people of Reykjavík will be spending their long weekend, far from any sort of rural setting.
You can hear some great music, have fun and still be in your own bed and your own shower by morning. It may not be the ultimate camping festival experience, but you’re going to be clean, dry, and most likely have a lot of fun while you’re at it.
The ultimate útihátíð is also the oldest one, Þjóðhátíð í eyjum. It’s taken place every year since 1874 in the Westman Islands, just off the south coast of Iceland.
It’s got everything an Icelandic festival needs, camping, bonfires, fireworks, people of all generations getting together and Iceland’s most popular musicians keeping the crowd dancing. It’s also steeped in traditions; a festival song has been commissioned for the festival every year since 1933 and on the last night of the festival, all the people on the island, young and old get together for a sing-along.
All around the country, other festivals are organised in small towns. The most notable are Neistaflug, a six-day festival in East Iceland, Sæludagar that takes place in and around Hjalteyri in North Iceland, and the festivities in Flúðir in South Iceland. All of these are fun to check out. It’s a great way to experience the countryside and meet locals.
Drop by for a cup of coffee and a waffle or eat dinner together in the evenings. Every day, different events are organised. These events include pub quizzes, pool parties, beer tastings, live music, barbecues, dances and more.