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9 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Saturday August 19 is Reykjavík Culture Night: Day long festivities, 300+ events

By Staff

  • Last year's fireworks display The Culture Night festivities begin at noon and end at 23:00 with a large fireworks display over the old harbour. Photo/City of Reykjavík

On Saturday Reykjavík will celebrate it's 22nd "Culture Night", a whole day of culture, arts and other festivities. Guests in downtown Reykjavík will be able to choose from more than three hundred events, ranging from exhibitions and concerts, theater, music and dance. The day will begin with the Reykjavík Marathon, and culminate in a giant fireworks display at the Old Harbour.

All the events are free of charge. Admission to the museums and galleries of downtown Reykjavík will also be free of charge, and bus travel in the city will also be free.

Three major concerts are scheduled in downtown, in addition to more than 100 other smaller music events all over the city. According to Reykjavík City actors, dancers and circus artists will appear in a range of performances, and Reykjavík residents offer events in gardens and alleys.

This year's festivities will differ from previous years in one crucial way: The fishing town of Akranes, across Faxaflói bay, will be a "Guest Town" of Culture Night, offering a varied program of events at the restaurant Messinn at the Maritime Museum in Akranes.

The full schedule of events can be found at

Some highlights

The Rás 2 radio station will hold its splendid Festival Concert at Arnarhóll as usual – the theme of this year’s concert is Something for Everyone. Performers at the concert are Reykjavíkurdætur (Daughters of Reykjavík), Friðrik Dór, Svala Björgvins, and finally the ever-popular band Síðan skein sól.

The concert starts at 20.00, and ends at 23.00 when the firework display is scheduled to begin.

The Bylgjan radio station will provide non-stop music at the Hljómskálagarður park from 18.00 to 22.45. The party starts with a barbecue, and then the music begins.

Performers include Jónas Sig og Ritvélar framtíðarinnar, Baggalútur, Dikta, Sycamore tree, Elísabet Ormslev, Birgir, Ása, RAVEN and Aron Hannes.

The Culture Night Hip Hop festival is the only concert on the Culture Night program that focuses on hip hop.

The event organizers promise a great program including many different performers from 17.00 to 23.00. The event begins with a dance display.

Culture Night is a feast of music events all over the downtown area: between Tryggvagata and Hafnarstræti the Reykjavík Custom Bike Show will offer rock’n’roll, while at Harpa the Iceland Symphony Orchestra will perform, in addition to Chocolate Cake Opera, the Reykjavík Blues Festival and the Spectrum vocal group.

A Feast of Hymns will resound in Hallgrímskirkja, while Iðnó theatre hosts garage bands and a blues festival. There will be a Carnival atmosphere at the corner of Klapparstígur and Hverfisgata, where many performers will appear. And concerts are scheduled at the Petersen Suite at Gamla bíó, Dillon, Mengi, Húrra, Hannesarholt, Kex Hostel and other venues.

Hitt húsið youth cultural centre offers a varied program of music and arts from 13.45 to 19. And for those want to join in the singing, there will be open-air karaoke with Hits&Tits at the giant chessboard at Bernhöftstorfa.

All over the downtown area, Culture Night will offer the opportunity for dance, as well as theater and performances of various kinds. At Hlemmur you can try out the Virtual Reality experience of being trapped in an invisible box – for one person at a time.

At Tjarnarbíó the program Koddahjal (Pillow Talk) invites people to make themselves comfortable in beds provided by the Red Cross as they listen to accounts of the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. At the National Theatre, Improv Iceland will hold a marathon five-hour improvisation.

On Lækjartorg you can learn to salsa, and the youth circus  Æskusirkusinn – Fjörleikhúsið will be in Klambratún park. The Culture House hosts Mirror of Society 1770, a staged reading that illuminates life in Iceland 250 years ago. 

Lotta theater group performs in Hallargarður park, and a display of Balkan dances is held at the National Museum.

On Culture Night admission is free to all museums and galleries in the downtown area, which are open from morning to evening. Ragnar Kjartansson’s Woman in E will be performed at his exhibition in Hafnarhús, and mini guided tours of the show will be held.

Íslensk erfðagreining (DeCode Genetics) hosts a show of the works of artist Kristján Davíðsson, including pieces never displayed in public before. Gallery Fold holds a treasure hunt for children and adults, and artists will be working on their art and talking to visitors. Artist Snorri Ásmundsson opens his exhibition Mulieres Praestantes at Hannesarholt, and icons will be on show in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Gallery Port offers a feast of art by up-and-coming young Icelandic artists. At Kjarvalsstaðir  you can take part in making The Longest Landscape. There will also be a treasure hunt of the outdoor works around the gallery, and mini guided tours of the exhibition of Louisa Matthíasdóttir’s art. The Ásgrímur Jónsson Collection offers guided tours of the exhibition Frightening Nature.

The National Museum provides a varied program from morning to evening: visitors can learn about the Museum’s exhibitions and take part in a range of activities – learn cat’s cradle and French skipping, play a bird-identification game, and find out just how transnational they are.

Culture Night includes many more events. In Hellusund, for instance, the JCI House is holding a flea market in support of World Cleanup Day 2018.

At Múltí Kúltí on Barónsstígur The Radical Summer University holds a series of lectures on important current issues.

The Faroese Representative Office will be open from 14 to 17: the event will be opened by Annika Olsen, mayor of Tórshavn. Faroese goodies will be served by Marentza Poulsen, and music is provided by Stanley Samuelsen.

A charming custom on Culture Night is that some of the residents of the Þingholt district invite visitors into their homes or gardens to enjoy coffee and waffles. And that custom will, of course, be observed this year.

Open Homes this year are at Óðinsgata 8b, Þingholtsstræti 27 (third floor), Ingólfsstræti 19, Hellusund 3, Grettisgata 26 and Mímisgata 2.

The Culture Night firework display this year is provided by the City of Reykjavík. As usual, a splendid spectacle is to be expected, on Austurbakki adjacent to Harpa at 23.00.

The display is organized and carried out by Reykjavík Scouts Search and Rescue (REY-SAR) in collaboration with Visit Reykjavík. We recommend Arnarhóll hill as the best vantage point for viewing the fireworks.

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