MAGAZINE

5 Reasons Iceland Airwaves is the Hottest Winter Festival in the World

Photo by: Ian Young
by Ian Young | @nounpusher Tue November 07, 2017 | 04:00 PM

Every November, thousands of people board flights from dozens of countries to enjoy five days of non-stop music from over 200 artists from Iceland, Europe, and beyond.

It might be cold out, but Iceland Airwaves is the hottest festival you may not have heard of. Here are five reasons why it should be on your festival bucket list.

The Whole City Is In on It

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Photo by: Ian Young

With a population of around 200,000, Reykjavík is by far the biggest city in Iceland. (Akureyri in the north is second with only 20,000 people.) Reykjavík is the heart and soul of the country, and the entire city plays host to the festival with a dozen different venues around town hosting shows during the week. In addition to these official venues, over 40 other bars, restaurants, clothing shops and bookstores host free shows for anybody who happens to walk by. Even local politicians sometimes show up; the Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur Bergþóruson Eggertsson, attended an event or two this year.

You Can Choose Your Own Adventure

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Photo by: Ian Young

Whether you want to relax with a coffee and listen to a singer/songwriter from the UK or feel the bass of Iceland’s best DJs shake your internal organs, Airwaves has something for everyone. And if you can’t decide, do it all — most artists play more than one show during the festival.

You Don’t Even Need a Ticket to Join the Fun

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Photo by: Ian Young

Similar to SXSW, Airwaves plays host to over 500 off-venue shows—and you don’t need a ticket to enjoy a single one of them. Many of these shows feature artists playing official festival shows or up-and-coming new bands who may just be future headliners.

You’ll Discover Your Next Favorite Band

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Photo by: Ian Young

Airwaves is all about musical discovery and showcasing artists most people have never heard. Like punk? Check out the feminist Icelandic band Hórmónar. Into gothy dark wave? Kælan Mikla will blow your mind. Electronic? Check out Kiasmos, aYia or Milkywhale. The list goes on and on. There are also American and European bands on offer each year.

You’re In One of the Most Beautiful Countries on Earth

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Photo by: Ian Young

The Land of Fire and Ice offers dozens of day trips to check out waterfalls, mountains, volcanoes, black sand beaches, geothermal pools and more. And if you’re lucky, you may even experience the best light show on earth when the conditions are just right for aurora borealis.

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Related Festival

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Iceland Airwaves

Start Date: November 2, 2016
Reykjavik, Iceland