August public holiday.
On the first Monday in August we have the last bank holiday until Christmas, so we always make the most of it. Commerce day, Shopkeeper´s day or Tradesman´s day is known as Frídagur Verslunarmanna here and nowadays it's a public holiday for most.
Originally the holiday took place in September in 1894 with an idea originating from Denmark. It was agreed upon by the shop managers in Reykjavik and the unions to grant the workers a day off in the summer. From the start it became a favourite holiday and the first Monday in August was chosen finally in 1931 and since then Icelandic families have for the most packed up and headed off into the country for a long weekend. There are many festivals going on around the island, something for everyone and here below is a short summary of some of the events on offer this weekend.
Westmann islands - South IcelandThe festival in the Westmann islands (Þjóðhátíð). Well, we have to start with this one, it is the biggest and the oldest festival for this weekend. The Westmann islands are a group of islands just off the south coast of Iceland´s mainland. The festival was held here for the first time in 1874 when Iceland celebrated the 1000 year anniversary of the settlement, but the celebrations were taking place on the mainland and as sometimes happens here the weather was not too good and the people on the island were not able to sail over to the mainland. They decided not to waste time feeling sorry for themselves and made their own festival and have been ever since, attracting about 16000 people to the event. Many people even start to arrive before the weekend to set up camp. It is mainly a music festival, but there are things going on for everyone...but not much sleep to be had. On the Saturday night there is a tremendous firework display in the valley.
Akureyri - North IcelandOne with everything or Ein með öllu which is what we ask for when getting our hotdogs. This is held in Akureyri, the capital of the North. Three days of fun stuff, including a race up the church steps in fancy dress (about 110 steps), yoga classes outside, circus, concerts and a muffin sale in the Botanical gardens with money made going to charity and lots more events to keep everyone busy
Ísafjörður - WestfjordsSwamp soccer event in Ísafjörður in the west of Iceland. This weekend the European championship of swamp soccer is to be held..and not to be missed. The rules are generally the same as normal soccer, the pitch size is though approximate, the length of the game is not too long or not too short (as they state on their website), players are in teams of six, throw ins are kicked in. A pink card may be shown for a foul and for that the perpetrator will have to kiss the injured party. It is advised to tape shoes to your feet with duct tape so that they don't get lost. Its just a lot of fun in a lot of mud and slightly crazy, but very popular.
Neskaupsstaður - East IcelandNeistaflug in Neskaupstaður in the east of Iceland. A family orientated festival with music and lots of fun events for children.
Siglufjörður - North IcelandHerring adventure held in Siglufjörður on the north coast of Iceland. During the 40´s and 50´s the town blossomed with the herring industry, but although the herring have gone the town is still dependent on fishing. There is a great museum there which gives insight to their past and now the first weekend in August is a time for fun. This year the circus will be in town and there will be many concerts. But if you don't fancy going out of town then you can stay in Reykjavík, the capital and take part in Innipúkinn (the stay in party) which is the annual music festival. So no excuse to get bored during this weekend, of course some lucky ones will be totally unaware of all the noise and bustle of all this and will be enjoying the weekend fishing.
Have fun and drive safely!