Þjóðhátíð, the festival held in the Westman Islands every Merchant’s Weekend and one of Iceland’s biggest multi-day events, has been postponed, although organizers still hope to hold it later this summer. This was announced by festival committee chair Hörður Orri Grettisson on the Þjóðhátíð website on Monday.
The postponement comes as a result of tightening restrictions aimed at stemming the exponential rise of recent COVID-19 infections, including a ban on gatherings of more than 200 people. Previous Þjóðhátíðs have drawn as many as 16,000 attendees—nearly four times the population of Heimey, the island the festival takes place on. As recently as last week, organizers said they had no intention of cancelling the festival, and that “precautions with personal infection control” and regular sanitation would be sufficient.
Organizers have asserted that the festival, funds from which support ÍBV [the Westman Islands football club] is vital to not only ÍBV’s youth programming but also the Westmans’ local economy. They have, as such, not given up on the idea of holding the festival this year. “It is our belief that it will be possible to hold the festival in some form later this summer. A decision will be made no later than August 14.”
In the meantime, those who bought tickets have three options: they can receive a refund in August, donate the price of their ticket to ÍBV, or transfer their ticket to next year’s festival in 2022.
A slimmed-down and virtual version of the festival will also take place. The Sunday night program, which includes performances by the band Albatross and a performance of this year’s official festival song, will be streamed online and viewable from anywhere in the world. Tickets for the online event are being sold on tix.is.