Siglufjörður Comics Festival Announces Debut

Comics fans and creators, rejoice: the Siglufjörður Comics Festival will debut this summer.

A history of comics

The North Iceland town is certainly picturesque, but the town also has historic ties to comics. It is the home of the Siglufjarðarprentsmiðja printing house which, in the 1930s, began printing the very first comics in Iceland.

As such, the town is a fitting place to showcase the works of comics artists and invite others to ignite their creative endeavors, with events spanning numerous venues. One particular highlight is illustrator Brian Pilkington, whose illustrations are immediately recognisable from having graced books about trolls, the Christmas lads, and much more.

Something for everyone

The festival will also feature an Artists’ Alley, the described “heart and soul” of the event, wherein attendees will be able to take in the works of numerous artists. In addition, interested artists may apply to be a part of this event here, but bear in mind the deadline to do so is June 1st.

In keeping with inspiring and celebrating the creativity of others, the festival will also feature a “Drink and Draw” event, and close with a tabletop games workshop.

All relevant information about this event can be found on the official page, and will be held from August 30th through September 1st.

Iceland Airwaves Announces First Acts of 2024

Iceland Airwaves 2022

Iceland’s largest music festival, Iceland Airwaves, announced the first acts of its 2024 lineup today. They include local acts such as Klemens Hannigan (of Hatari fame), Inspector Spacetime, and Úlfur Úlfur, as well as acts from eight other countries. The festival will take place in Reykjavík from November 7-9, 2024.

This year will mark Iceland Airwaves’ 25th anniversary. The first-ever Airwaves festival was held in an aeroplane hangar at Reykjavík Airport and was initially meant to be a one-off event. While it is 25 years since the festival was first held, it is not the 25th edition of the festival: Airwaves was called off in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first lineup announcement includes 9 Icelandic acts and, as usual, focuses mostly on up-and-coming local artists such as lúpína and K.óla. Foreign artists include Shygirl (UK), UCHE YARA (AU) and Saya Gray (CA).

The announced artists can be heard on the Iceland Airwaves 2024 Spotify playlist below.

Popular Town Festivals Coming to an End

Mýrarboltinn mud football

Town festivals in Iceland have long been popular summer attractions that receive visitors from all across the country and abroad. However, many notable ones have come to an end in recent years, Vísir reports. The “mud football” tournament Mýrarboltinn in Ísafjörður no longer takes place, the Great Fish Day in Dalvík is not celebrated anymore, Mærudagar in Húsavík has been scaled back, and the heavy metal festival Eistnaflug in Neskaupsstaður is in hibernation. Recently it was announced that LungA Art Festival in Seyðisfjörður will be hosting its final edition this summer.

Stressful for organisers

The festivals tend to focus on music, arts, food or other cultural activities, and most of them take place in the summer, with the music festival Aldrei fór ég suður in Ísafjörður kicking off the season around Eastertime.

According to Þórhildur Tinna Sigurðardóttir, an organiser at LungA, the reason for the festival coming to an end is limited funding and a heavy workload for the people involved. “There is a lot of volunteer work and struggle,” Þórhildur Tinna said. “The format is such that most of the work falls on one week in the summer. It takes its toll and isn’t emotionally sustainable. Not to mention the financial side.”

25th and last LungA

Þórhildur Tinna called for more public funding for town and arts festivals across the country and argued that the financing has gone down in real terms. “If this is to be sustainable for small festivals, town festivals, arts festivals and music festivals, these grant systems need to be revised,” she said, adding that it’s appropriate that the 25th edition of LungA this summer will be its last. “We’re ending the festival with the hopes of something new being created in its place by the younger generations.”

Authors Boycott Iceland Noir Over Clinton’s Involvement

icelandic true crime

Approximately 60 authors will be boycotting the Iceland Noir literary festival over guest of honour Hillary Clinton, citing her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The authors’ letter condemns Clinton’s actions and the festival’s perceived political alignment.

“Publicly opposed to a ceasefire”

Approximately 60 authors have decided to boycott the Iceland Noir literary festival and encourage others to do the same. The reason behind the boycott is the participation of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the festival as a guest of honour. Among the authors that are boycotting the festival are Hallgrímur Helgason, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, and Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia.

Read More: IR speaks to Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia

“Hillary Clinton publicly opposes a ceasefire in the ongoing genocide by the Israeli army in Palestine. For years, she has also used her broad platform to spread the propaganda of the Israeli government and false information, causing harm to the Palestinian people,” an open letter signed by the authors reads.

“By inviting her, the Iceland Noir festival took a stand, and by standing by that invitation, the festival underscored its political stance, associated with war crimes and genocide,” the statement continues. “When children are fighting, one child murdered every ten minutes, there is no time to exchange views or engage in debate. Only the stance itself matters and therefore we urge you to:

  • Take a clear stand against war crimes and genocide.
  • Refrain from participating in the whitewashing of the Israeli government and its supporters.
  • Not undermine the human rights struggle of the Palestinian people.
  • Support a free Palestine!

The statement notes that the boycott is a peaceful method aimed at expressing moral and political disapproval of the actions of individuals or institutions that harm others. It is not intended as a personal attack on the organisers or sponsors of the festival.

Intended to be a “non-political” festival

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, who organises the event alongside Ragnar Jónasson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Sverrir Norland, expressed regret and understanding in the face of the boycott:

“We decided that this would be a great opportunity to invite Hillary, who is remarkable but not without controversy. So we decided to hold this special event. She is not actually at the festival itself; this is a separate event. But it’s terrible. We are completely sorry that our initiative to hold a literary festival is being dragged into conflicts that we all, of course, want to see de-escalated immediately,” Yrsa observed.

She fully understands the stance of those who protest.

“One understands that people want to do something. But I’m not sure if our small initiative is the venue to change anything in these matters. But maybe not everyone agrees on that,” she remarked. “This is supposed to be a non-political festival. And I think that most of those who participate disagree with her [Clinton] about the ceasefire, and so do the ticket holders. We don’t ask people about their politics when we are selecting participants for the festival.”

Record Attendance Expected at This Year’s Reykjavík Bear Festival

Reykjavík Bear Festival

The annual Reykjavík Bear Festival, hosted in association with the National Queer Organisation, has sold out, doubling last year’s ticket sales. The event promotes diversity and body positivity within the bear community.

Celebrating diversity and promoting body positivity

The annual Reykjavík Bear Festival, organised by the non-profit Bears of Iceland, is set to run from August 31 to September 3, attracting a record number of attendees. Hosted in association with the National Queer Organisation of Iceland (Samtökin ’78), the festival has sold twice as many tickets as last year and has been sold out since June.

Open to all regardless of gender identity, the event aims to celebrate diversity and promote body positivity. “Leave body shaming at the door,” a press release from Bears of Iceland reads. The festival emphasises bear-community values such as empathy, solidarity, and joie de vivre. “Bears usually have one thing in common: they are sweet, cheerful, funny, and kind to their neighbours,” the press release notes.

The four-day festival lineup includes a Blue Lagoon visit, a Golden Circle tour, brunch, and nightly parties. Friday features a top-off event at Gaukurinn in downtown Reykjavík, while Saturday’s main party is set at Sunset Bar in the Reykjavík EDITION hotel. Entertainment includes DJ Mighty Bear’s fusion of queer culture and futuristic sounds; Spain’s DJ Neo Scott; and France’s DJ Joff.

Founded in 2019, Bears of Iceland hosts various events year-round to increase visibility and camaraderie within the bear community.

A bear is a subcultural term used primarily by gay men, referring to a subset of men who embrace and subvert traditional masculinity and defy the stereotypes typically applied to gay men.

Food and Fun Festival Returns to Reykjavík

A waiter holding two dishes in Hlemmur Food Hall

Fifteen Reykjavík restaurants will take part in the 20th edition of the Food and Fun Festival, which returns to the Icelandic capital March 1-4, reports. Foreign chefs will be invited to cook at the restaurants, where they have the opportunity to get to experiment with Icelandic ingredients. Hungry foodies will be able to book a table around mid-February.

“There are a lot of foreigners that attend the festival, there are a lot of tourists that are curious about Icelandic cuisine,” says Siggi Hall, a master chef and one of the festival organisers. “Once upon a time there were few tourists at this time of year but that’s no longer the case. Today, many people come here for the food, because the food is without a doubt the third or fourth attraction, besides nature and the northern lights.”

Food and Fun was originally organised to attract tourists to Iceland during the off season as well as to showcase the country’s agricultural and seafood products. During the festival, foreign chefs from the USA and Europe team up with local restaurants to create gourmet menus at affordable prices. As the festival website points out, not only do the foreign chefs get to know Icelandic ingredients, but they can also make locals see those ingredients in a new way, such as using Icelandic skyr for sauces rather than desserts.

In previous editions of the festival, celebrity chef judges have also been invited to rate the culinary creations, and three chefs have been chosen as finalists to compete for the title of Food and Fun Chef of the Year. A list of participating chefs and restaurants from past years is available on the festival website.

“Beauty of Freedom:” Reykjavík Pride Festival Begins

Reykjavík’s annual Pride Festival officially kicks off today with a rainbow-painting event on Bankastræti in the city centre. The festival lasts until Sunday, August 7 and its events include karaoke nights, lectures, drag storytime, and of course the traditional Pride Parade on Saturday, August 6. According to the Director of the National Queer Association of Iceland (Samtökin ’78), educating the public is a crucial step in tackling the backlash that has occurred in the fight for equal rights.

Freedom to celebrate

The theme of this year’s festival is “Beauty of Freedom,” a phrase borrowed from Iceland’s 2022 Eurovision entry Með hækkandi sól. “After the long isolation of the last years, we now have the freedom to gather together and unite once more in solidarity. Finally we have the freedom to celebrate our victories and stand together in the fight for human rights, awareness and equality,” a post on the Reykjavík Pride website states.

While the freedom of LGBTQI+ people has “expanded over the course of the last years and decades,” the post states, “we still haven’t reached the highest degree of true freedom. Some groups within the queer community are still struggling and every day, their freedom and beauty is questioned, both in Iceland and abroad.”

Backlash in LGBTQIA+ rights movement

Repeated acts of vandalism to a rainbow painted outside a Reykjavík church, hateful anonymous letters, and even comments from authorities about LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers are just a few examples of prejudice towards the queer community that have appeared in Icelandic media in recent weeks. Daníel Arnarsson, director of the National Queer Association of Iceland says prejudice against the LGBTQIA+ community has increased and become more commonplace.

“When we allow prejudice to fester, we are also opening the door for that prejudice to spread to other minority groups,” Daníel told RÚV, emphasising that educating the public about the reality faced by queer people is key in fighting what he called a backlash in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement.

All are welcome to take part in the rainbow painting at noon today at the corner of Bankastræti and Ingólfssstræti. The full festival programme is available on the Reykjavík Pride website.

EVE Fanfest Begins in Reykjavík Tomorrow

Over 1,000 EVE Online players are on their way to Iceland for EVE Fanfest, which takes place tomorrow and Saturday, May 6-7, in Reykjavík. The festival will include social events for players, presentations, and hangouts with the game’s developers. It’s been four years since the last fanfest was held.

“The city is starting to fill up with, well, some would call them nerds,” stated Eldar Ástþórsson somewhat cheekily in a RÚV interview earlier today. Eldar is the brand manager of CCP Games, the video game developer that created EVE Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) renowned for its scale and complexity. The game currently boasts over 1 million players per month.

Eldar says participants have come from all over the world. “[Fanfest] is a festival, conference, and national assembly, because these are players in the EVE universe, which is huge, that come here to have fun and meet others, but also to talk about economic, historical, and political issues in the EVE universe.”

EVE Online was first released in 2003, almost 20 years ago. “At CCP, we’re really proud that this game has lived for so long, and we’re also very proud of EVE Fanfest and the concept around it. We were one of the first companies to invite our customers, the people who play the game, to this sort of party. So we’re very proud of this festival and it’s always really fun to do,” Eldar stated.

Website Crashes as Tickets to Þjóðhátið Festival Go on Sale

When tickets for the Þjóðhátíð Festival in the Westman Islands went on sale yesterday, the website of the Herjólfur ferry crashed. Þjóðhátíð’s publicity officer states that the anticipation for this year’s festival is unrivalled, as the festival has been cancelled for the past two years because of the pandemic.

Great expectations

Icelanders celebrate their annual Merchant’s Weekend, Verslunarmannahelgi, on the first Monday of August. Various festivals are thrown across the country, none as big as Þjóðhátíð in the Westman Islands, which draws an annual crowd exceeding 10,000 people.

Given that Þjóðhátíð has been cancelled for the past two years because of the pandemic, there has been much anticipation for this year’s festival.

When tickets for Þjóðhátíð went on sale yesterday, the website of the Herjólfur ferry crashed, RÚV reports. This malfunction was not entirely unexpected, however, as the website has crashed every year for the past decade on the day that ticket sales open.

Speaking to RÚV, Hörður Orri Grettisson, Director of Herjólfur, and Chairman of the Þjóðhátíð Committee, expects a record turnout at this year’s festival. There are, however, fewer tickets available since many of those who bought tickets last year have opted to transfer their tickets.

Bríet and Bubbi to headline

This year’s lineup features some of the biggest names within the Icelandic music scene: Bríet, Bubbi, the Daughters of Reykjavík, FLOTT, Emmsjé Gauti, and Hipsumhaps.

As noted by the festival’s publicity officer, Jón Gunnar Geirdal, additional acts will be announced in the coming days.

“The anticipation for this year’s Þjóðhátíð is extraordinary, simply because we’ve had to cancel the festival for the past two years on account of something of which we’ve grown tired of talking. So the excitement is unprecedented; I don’t think there’s ever been a time when the anticipation is so high,” Jón Gunnar remarked in an interview with Vísir.

This year’s Merchant Weekend falls on the final weekend of July (July 29 – August 1).

Iceland Airwaves Festival to Return Following Three-Year Pause

Iceland Airwaves 2018

Iceland Airwaves music festival has announced the first 14 artists that will play the event this coming November. The festival is finally scheduled to return following a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Airwaves’ programming has been shortened to three days and fewer passes will be offered than in previous years.

The 14 acts announced by the festival are a mix of Icelandic and international artists, In alphabetical order: Amyl & the Sniffers, Arlo Parks, Árný Margrét, Axel Flóvent, Crack Cloud, Daughters of Reykjavík, Eydís Evensen, FLOTT, gugusar, HAM, LÓN, Metronomy, superserious, and ZÖE. Both up and coming Icelandic artists (Árný Margrét, gugusar) and establish favourites (HAM) are represented in the group. The artists can all be heard on a curated Spotify playlist.

The festival is scheduled to take place November 3-5, 2022 (Thursday to Saturday). While programming has been shortened by one day, its organisers hope that “friends and partners will take the opportunity to put on their own shows and events on Wednesday to get things going and warm up for a three-day party like no other.”