Years of isolation doesn’t make Iceland a boring country after all. If you think that the country is just all about geysirs, mountains, and volcanoes, then you probably haven’t seen all yet. Iceland boasts of its festivals on which boredom is almost non-existent. One of the festivals that both locals and foreign tourists look forward to is the Verslunarmannahelgi, an annual festival in Westman Island celebrated in the first weekend of August.
Verslunarmannahelgi is a festival well-known in Westman Island. People all over Iceland and locals of the island itself are looking forward in the celebration. Celebrated in Þjóðhátíð, the Verslunarmannahelgi has been celebrated since 1874. Back then, it was celebrated the same time as with the 1,000 year anniversary celebration of the settlement. Because the people of the island find it hard to celebrate with the nation, they decided to come up with their own festival to get into the festivity mood. Since then, it has become an annual event celebrated by 10,000 people. And ironically, more and more people from the mainland are coming to the island to join in the celebration.
The festival starts on Friday night with an atypical bonfire. It is then followed by an activity-filled weekend. There’s usually a firework exhibition on a Saturday night and a sing-along event on Sunday. This sing-along event is usually with Westman Island’s Árni Johnsen. He is a well-known man in the island who would often gather visitors in the hillside and sing along with them the Iceland folk songs. The rest of the weekend is filled with fun-packed activities and parties. Those who have gone into the festival could attest that the atmosphere in the island during the festival is more than just having a music fest. In fact, they describe the vibe as ‘different’ in a positive way. It seems that everyone in the island are gathered in unison.
While majority of those who have already attended the festival pretty know what to do before and during the festival, first timers don’t have to fret as the people of the island are well known for their one-of-a-kind hospitality. You can simply find a nice place to stay and the rest of the weekend – the partying and the fun-filled activities, are being taken care of the people. You can easily determine the local’s ‘house tents’ as they are all in white, located in the heart of the event. Don’t be surprised if you will be invited into one of their private parties because it’s normal for the people of the Westman Island to invite visitors over. If you lost your way back to the party arena, then don’t worry as the people will be more than willing to lead you back. They may even let you ride on their lorries which are specially decorated for the event. Verslunarmannahelgi is an annual event that you shouldn’t miss in Iceland. So, let go of your worries, celebrate with the Westman Island people, and have the party of your life there. Your view of weekend will never be the same once you attend this festival.