Icelandic Swimming Pool Culture Nominated for UNESCO Status

Swimming pool in Iceland

Icelandic “swimming pool culture” could be added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, minister of culture and business, has confirmed a nomination for it to be added, Heimildin reports. This is Iceland’s first independent nomination for the list, which includes things like Chinese shadow puppetry, Inuit drum dancing and singing, French baguette bread and Finnish sauna culture.

Physical and spiritual

The nomination comes with multiple statements of support from municipalities, sports and swimming societies and swimming pool guests. They include stories, experiences and attitudes towards swimming pools in Iceland with discussions on their meaning and importance, according to a statement from the ministry.

The nomination has been prepared fro some time by the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and the National Museum of Iceland. “Swimming pool culture holds a special and important place in the daily life of Icelanders,” said Lilja. “Meeting in the hot tub or taking the family swimming is a social connection which is invaluable and makes its mark, not only physically, but spiritually as well.”

Big part of everyday life

According to a recent survey, 79% of adults in Iceland go to swimming pools. Some 120 public pools operate in Iceland and are a big part of everyday life all around the country.

The process for UNESCO evaluation is 18 months, so it will be revealed in December 2025 whether Icelandic swimming pool culture will be added to the list.