Last year, husband & I decided to accompany husband's friend Steve to Iceland in November to attend the annual music festival 'Iceland Airwaves'. When it was first mentioned to me, I immediately had images of a frozen Glastonbury in my head and thought 'eh there is no way I am doing that!' but actually the festival is held indoors across several locations in the city of Reykjavik.
I'm not a particularly big live music fan (although I used to be when I was younger, even having actually attended Glastonbury at the tender age of 16 which I'm sure almost gave both my parents coronaries), but husband is, so I figured it would be a good chance to see Iceland, thinking it would be a bit of a 'one-off' trip. But the festival was actually amazing!! We arrived on the Thursday and picked up our wrist bands, which had to be worn all weekend to gain access to the gigs. Within a couple of hours, I'd knocked back a few ciders and we were bopping away to some (slightly unusual) trance-y folk-y bands.
Of Monsters & Men; one of the highlights of the weekend
There were approximately 250 acts across the whole weekend and we saw some really awesome bands, including Of Monsters and Men, who were incredible. Steve also managed to cross off a bucket list item which was going to see Sigur Ros. The whole festival was brilliant; the atmosphere at every gig was amazing; there was no fighting, people were friendly, queued for toilets politely, even the cloakrooms were unattended - you just hung your bag & jacket up and it would still be there, untouched, 6 hours later. Truly brilliant!
Unfortunately, the weekend we were there, 'Sandy The Super Storm' had finally carried across the ocean and was settling on Iceland's shores, causing extreme winds (I actually got blown into the road, in front of a car!) and the wind chill was down to -10. The weather in Iceland is usually around the same as it is in the north of Scotland, so this was a bit chillier than we'd expected, but we battled on in our thermals! However, due to the extreme weather, many of the activity trips that are very popular had to be cancelled for safety reasons, which meant there was no ice treks or snow-jettting.
One of the trips we did manage to squeeze in on the Saturday morning was the 'Blue Lagoon Chill'. The Blue Lagoon is geo-thermal spa, set out in the volcano fields just outside of Reykjavik and each year, during the Airwaves festival, they have their own gig; a DJ playing chilled out dance, while everyone in their bikinis and ear-muffs chills out and dances in the waters!
It was a pretty chilly dash from the doors into the water, but once you're in, the lovely warm (and sometimes very hot) water kept you toastie! I did have to get out though after about an hour because although my body was roasting, my head was frozen!
The lagoon itself is enormous and if you don't fancy a dip, you can have a bite to eat in the restaurant, have a spa treatment, or just walk around taking some snaps.
Everyone I know that had been to Iceland before recommended eating at least 1 hotdog whilst we were there and I didn't let them down. Truly some of the best hotdogs in Europe!
On our last day, we went on the 'Golden Circle' tour, which is a whole day trekking around the south of the country taking in 3 major sights; Þingvellir National Park, (which is pronounced 'thing-vit-lar, kind of) the site of Iceland's first parliament, Gullfoss Waterfalls (pictured below) and the Geysir geothermal fields (last picture). This was an incredible day out of the city and a fab way of seeing some of the main attractions. The Geysirs in particular were amazing - every few minutes they would erupt!
We were really lucky on this day too as we were the only 3 people booked onto the trip, meaning we had the guide all to ourself (who was amazing) and we were more or less able to pick & choose what we wanted to do. We finished off the day with a trip to Fontana hot spring and dinner at a nearby restaurant. We had hoped to be able to see the Northern Lights that night too, but the weather was just too awful!
I can't recommend Iceland enough - it has so much to offer and even if you aren't interested in the outdoorsy stuff, the city centre is beautiful, the cafe culture is amazing and there is a *lot* of shopping to be had!
The people are so incredibly friendly and don't worry about the language, everyone's english is perfect, to the point where you can't tell if they are Icelanders or British! Having said that, because of my colouring, I was constantly mistaken for being Icelandic, which made some conversations a bit awkward when all I could manage was 'thanks' and 'hello'!
For beauty junkies, you'll be in heaven - Iceland has an incredible range of marine beauty brands and hundreds of spas. Your skin will thank you for a weekend over there!
If you are interested in the music festival, I'd highly recommend buying your tickets early as they can sell out, depending on headline acts.
If you have any questions or comments, please just leave me a message below!