Reykjavik Round-the-clock: a 24 hour guide to Summer Solstice
Make the most of Iceland’s vibrant capital, from celebrating the midnight sun to challenging cultural conventions at the city’s timeless art festival.
If you’re full of energy, like a good party and are always on the look-out for your next cultural fix, travelling to Iceland’s Reykjavik during summer is a safe bet. To see something really spectacular, head to the city before the 19th June – the dawn of the Midnight Sun, when the sun doesn’t set for three whole days: who needs sleep when you’re witnessing one of the most unique events on planet earth?
Here are some top suggestions and highlights for round-the-clock partying, getting arty and events not to miss leading up to summer solstice in Iceland.
Bar hop ‘til the AM:
When? Fridays & Saturdays, noon-to-five
Why is nightlife/day life in Reykjavik so great? You’ll hear travellers and locals alike shouting about this tiny capital which knows how to throw a party, but it is a worthy contender against the big metropolitan cities like London or New York: why? Everything is within walking distance, queues are small, pretentious dress codes barely exist, no one blinks if you do that weird arm-flailing dance, belt out tunes or twerk terribly and – perhaps most importantly – bars are open late.
So do it properly in the Reykjavík downtown area (postcode 101) and spend all day hopping between cafes, which turn into bars, which turn into dance venues as the hours tick by and the night draws in – or during the solstice – when night doesn’t happen at all.
On Fridays and Saturdays, bars are open from the afternoon, don’t get busy until after midnight, and won’t close until around 5am.
You can always guarantee a good time at our Reykjavik Downtown or Reykjavik Loft hostels pre or post café-bar crawl, located just minutes away from the bar scene and serving locally brewed beer at budget-friendly prices.
Time to be a good sport:
16th Games of the Small States of Europe
When? Between 1st – 6th June for your favourite events
It’s a good time to visit Iceland this summer for a bit of healthy competition: the 16th Games of the Small States of Europe held in Reykjavik this year means small states and big atmosphere, with preparations underway to make this a special event for participating countries such as San Marino, Andorra, Montenegro, Cyprus, and more.
With golf and gymnastics added into the mix of events including athletics, swimming, beach volleyball and judo for 2015, this is going to be an exciting cultural occasion.
No need for tickets, watching all events is free!
Stay at Reykjavik City hostel for the best spot, located right in the heart of Laugardalur Park, next door to the national sports stadium where the Games are held.
Run a rainbow around Reykjavik:
The Colour Run Iceland
When? June 6th – 9am sharp
Get some sleep in before Iceland’s first ever colour run, when you can enjoy being dowsed with six tonnes of rainbow dust sent over from India – a different coloured powder thrown around at every kilometre. This race isn’t about getting to the finish as quickly as possible – time is a man-made construct anyway; it’s about being the brightest, having the most fun, and being the best unicorn.
Get the arty started:
Reykjavik Arts Festival
When? 13th May – 7th June, days and evenings
Forget 24 hours; the Reykjavik Arts Festival throws a diverse smattering of events throughout the city over the course of almost a month. There’s something for everyone, from contemporary dance to new Icelandic music: enjoy a classical concert in an apartment living room and let your mind be boggled by a perspective-bending dance performance, which seemingly turns the dancefloor on its side.
Keep an eye on the Reykjavik Arts Festival website for updates on ticket purchase – pick and choose what you want to see to fit with your schedule and your creative whims.
Three sleepless days for Summer Solstice:
Secret Solstice Festival
When? 19th, 20th & 21st June, round the clock
Finally, the main event – the Midnight Sun music festival is one of the only summer events where you can party through three whole days, with the sun never completely setting. With the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Kelis, FKA Twigs and Skream as your midsummer soundtrack, an on-site geothermal pool – and many more besides, awe-inspiring natural beauty and the chance to hang out with iconic artist and local, Björk, you won’t find time for a nap.