Possibly one of the largest festivals in Iceland, at least the most exciting one, takes place this weekend. The festival is called in Icelandic, Verslunarmannahelgi. This can translate roughly to Labor Day Weekend or Tradesmen’s Weekend. So how does the nation of Iceland celebrate this holiday?
Many people from all over the country, from the cities such as Reykjavik, Akureyri, Egilsstadir, possibly even Grimsey in the Arctic Circle, all take flights, ships, and ferries to the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) located in the southern part of the country. The Westman Islands have a population a little over 4,000, but this weekend it will triple: 15,000 people normally are expected to be camping and taking part in the celebrations.
Since this Wednesday, people have already been setting up camps and tents and enjoying the beautiful weather in the islands. Many airlines have been busy this week from Reykjavik airport such as Air Iceland and Westman Islands Air transporting people to the islands. There are also many private airplanes flying to the islands.
Although the Westman Islands holds the largest events and most concerts, it isn’t the only place in the country that hosts events during the weekend. Reykjavik hosts many concerts, as part of the Innipúkinn music festival, as well as other festivities in the center of the city. Other towns in the countryside will also hold events related to hiking, concerts, games, dances, and other interesting sports. Towns such as Saudarkrokur, Siglufjordur, Neskaupsstadur, Fljotshlid, Grindavik, Fludir, Stokkseyri, and Akureyri will all be hosting events.
No one can forget also the famous event of Myrarbolti or Swamp Ball, a traditional Icelandic version of soccer played in the mud. This event will be hosted in the town of Isafjordur located in the West Fjords over the weekend.
In Akureyri there will be the annual festival of Ein med Ollu, as well as other events such as orienteering and a church step race up the large steps at Akureyri Church.
As for the weather, forecasts are ranging from rain in the north to sun in the south and temperatures ranging from 8 to 18 degrees Celsius. Unusually, Reykjavik can probably expect the best weather in the country this weekend – which will not please the thousands of city dwellers who have escaped elsewhere.
Either way, weather has never stopped the festivities in the past and it would still be possible to find huge numbers of campers in the Westmann Islands during heavy winds and rain, as has been proven many times over the years.
After the festivities, Icelanders and workers relax and enjoy the following Monday off. This weekend will have much in store for locals, tourists, and anyone who has the chance to be in Iceland during these holidays.