On first weekend off August every year many locals and adventurous tourists alike take to the wilderness of Iceland to explore all of nature’s beauty !
Verslunarmannahelgin is a nationwide merchant’s day celebration wherein stores close down, and people dedicate a weekend to embracing their wandering impulses! During Verslunarmannahelgin, campsites fill up fast with good people and good cheer and make for one incredible, memorable, and awe-inspiring weekend in Iceland. To get you on your way to the vacation of a lifetime, check out these tips to navigating Verslunarmannahelgin 2019:
What is it?
Technically, it’s a holiday. Therefore if you do happen to stumble into town on the first Monday in August, you might wonder when the metaphorical tumbleweed is going to float by. Stores, restaurants, and everything else closes down so that people might get away for the weekend. And it is celebrated by the whole country! Because everyone is off, it should come as no surprise that people have taken to forming festivals on this weekend for different interests. This is one of the most important weekends for all festivals in Iceland as there is so much over the entire island! Some are centered around music, others food, and maybe most importantly: nature. There is a whole lot of camping going on during this holiday!
How can I camp at a festival?
Considering this is such a jam packed affair, it makes sense that you’re going to have to do some pre-planning to make it work. Be sure to book ahead of time if possible, and if not then arrive early to the campgrounds of your choosing. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting turned away once the venue is at capacity. There are a few different ways to camp, although some of the most popular options are RVs, Campervans, and good ole’ fashioned tent and sticks. It’s best to attend a festival with a group so that you have people to enjoy the adventure with, although there is something to be said about making friends along the way! This is a great place to make locals and make some life long friendships! Or, celebrate solo! Take yourself out for a weekend of camping, fireworks, and good food for the most relaxing and exhilarating weekend of the year!
What are the festivals?
Þjóðhátíð Festival in VestmannaeyjarIslands
This is easily the number one destination for Verslunarmannahelgi. Thousands of people congregate here for an entire weekend (and some even come earlier) for non stop, electric partying. This is the place to go if you want to dance all day, drink all night, and make some unbelievable memories in Iceland! It is known as the premiere party destination during this festival season, and for good reason! But as such a popular destination, it can fill up quickly! Most people come as early as a week before the actual festivities just to claim a spot. If you plan on camping here, you’re going to need to plan out a strategy! But this is one festival that is well worth the effort!
Herring Adventure Family Festival in Siglufjörður
For a much different, more relaxing environment, check out Siglufjörður for all your festival needs. This town starts their celebrations a week before the first weekend in August typically, and features a litany of activities available for all ages. Camping here is open to everyone and even offers a few guest homes for those looking to camp in style. This is a much slower, chiller event than some of the others on the island, but it is no less fun! Here you can explore the city festival like a family friendly carnival and enjoy all that this town has to offer!
Ein með Öllu in Akureyri
A little bit of everything! Both the fast-paced music celebration and the place to bring the whole family, Ein með Öllu literally means “one with everything”. There is a theatre for live performances, competitions in a variety of sports, and sprawling, expansive camping grounds. Here you will find just as much joy in parking your campervan as you would throwing down a simple sleeping bag as this event makes a name for itself. It is also nestled in an incredibly beautiful stretch of Icelandic land, and once you’ve had your festival fill, makes it pretty easy to hit the road and find your next adventure in Iceland!
Mýrarbolti in the West fjords
A little bit different from its raving cousins, Mýrarbolti is the festival to go to for sports lovers! Especially ‘mud football’ enthusiasts who want to face off against the best that Iceland has to offer! Here the teams are made by groups of friends facing off against one another, making for a weekend of good spirits and good friendly comradery. Games range from light hearted fun to serious competition, and depending on when you get in you might get to see both! There is even a music festival at this location! Live musicians line up to play at this iconic event and send the competitors off with a song (or welcome them back!). There are campgrounds all around the West Fjords, and what is especially nice is that once you’ve had your fill of the crowds you can jet set off to find your solitary paradise. Take a tour of all the campgrounds in the West Fjords or stay loyal to your favorite, whatever you do just be sure to enjoy your time during Verslunarmannahelgin!
What are the insider tips?
As this is a spread out and fairly diverse celebration, necessities and permits range from event to event. However, there are some constants no matter what festival you choose:
Plan ahead! Some of these locations only have limited spacing so if you really want to get your camp on, then commit early! Don’t be the one who gets turned away the day of so that you spend your first day of Verslunarmannahelgin worrying about where you’ll sleep.
Hydrate! Throughout the whole day, keep a water bottle handle and stay hydrated! Interact with the locals! It’s a party, meet new people and make new friends!
Enjoy! This is something you’ll never want to forget. Live in the moment, and enjoy all that Verslunarmannahelgin has to offer!