I'm pretty excited about this summer. There's one (main) reason: I'm moving back to Iceland! But also, there are so many exciting and fun things going on in Iceland!
On the 5th of May, I move to Iceland.
For the past 7 years I've lived in London. So many things have happened here; I spent 3 years studying theatre and made some wonderful lifelong friends. As I was graduating I met a super cute and charming British guy, who convinced me to stay in the country for a little longer. I've been on many trips all over the world during this time, including S-America, N-America, Europe and Asia - both on my own, and dragging said British guy along with me. But now we're going on the biggest adventure so far - moving back home. And somehow I've (almost) convinced my boyfriend to tag along. (He'll probably divide his time between Iceland and the UK).
Together, we recently created our own theatre/events company, with the unpronounceable name of Huldufugl (Hidden Bird). In a way, we created it so that we would have something fun to do for work in Iceland. In another way, we're hoping to enrich the artistic life in Iceland during our time there.
We have already done two shows in London, one with focus on music with an Icelandic theme - 'HEIMA' - and another one with focus on typography with a theme of text in all forms - 'Aa'.
We're planning on a number of pop-up events throughout the summer in Iceland. Some will focus on film, others on music, some on nature and some even on digital art. Each one will have a different theme.
If you're coming to Iceland and would either like to watch a film in a spectacular setting, experience playful digital technology or end up in a secret location listening up-close to one of Iceland's talented musicians, you should follow us on facebook, twitter or instagram to get more information.
During all my time in London and abroad, I've both seen and sometimes even been lucky enough to be part of a number of mindblowing performances. For example I've seen a couple of Punchdrunk shows, been to the no-longer-existing Shunt underground vaults performance space, seen Charlie Chaplin's grandson (James Thierree) perform, been a part of the Burning Man festival and been to a number of all-immersive themed events such as 1920's speakeasies and even a BDSM Victorian torture garden!
I've also had the chance to take part in numerous Secret Cinema performances, a You Me Bum Bum Train show and performed at Glastonbury Festival, Bestival, Vaults Festival and at Edinburburgh Fringe Festival.
Events such as these and of this scale is something that was unheard of in Iceland 7 years ago. When I left Iceland there was one big music festival each year, Iceland Airwaves (a great festival that I highly recommend!) Now there are four. Sónar Reykjavík, ATP Festival and Secret Solstice all joined in in the past few years. There are also countless smaller ones, you can find a list of all festivals in Iceland here.
Immersive and interactive theatrical performances and secret themed nights that serve as a total escapism don't seem to be a huge hit in Iceland yet, but that may change with an increase in such events on offer.
More and more exciting events are being added to the Icelandic cultural life each year, both from local artists/organisations as well as foreign ones that want to be a part of the buzzing Reykjavík nightlife. I won't write about them all here, but I want to mention the ones that I'm mostly looking forward to in the upcoming months.
Party like Gatsby. On the 7th of May, the German event company 'Party like Gatsby' is coming to Iceland, to put on an event that's inspired by the classic tale of Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby used to throw glamorous parties in his mansion, in an attempt to make the love of his life hear about him and come visit him.
The event in Reykjavík is inspired by the glamour and glitz of the 1920's and will be held at one of Reykjavík's most stunning venues: Gamla Bíó (the old Opera House). Dress up in a flapper dress or a suit and expect chandeliers, a live band, 20-30 different artists and lots and lots of dancing.
And the best bit? It's about half the price of what you'd pay for a similar event in London, or only 5290 ISK. Get your tickets here!
Or if you're going with a group, they sell tickets in groups of 6 that also include a dinner feast at the beginning of the party for 62 000 ISK, or just over 10 000 ISK per person. If you want total escapism, and be immersed in the glamour of the 20's, then don't miss out on this Gatsby Northern Light Special!
House of Q Cabaret. Only a couple of days after the Gatsby party, you have the chance of seeing 3 British cabaret performers with their own set at the renowned live jazz venue Café Rosenberg. One gender-bending fabulous host, one sassy, fierce and fiery burlesque dancer and one sweet but oh-so-hilarious clown (not one of those scary clowns, more like a Chaplin clown...)
I have to say, I know these guys. Or well, I know one of them - I've had the immense pleasure of studying with, living with and performing with Alex over the past 7 years. The other ones I've just seen perform a few times. They have a regular spot at Cecil's in London, where they perform to a roaring crowd the first Thursday of each month. Felicity Furore is especially popular amongst the guys (although I think that she could turn any gay guy or straight woman on with all that sex appeal she's got going on!)
My friend Alex AKA Mercury AKA Pi the Mime is the most imaginative performer I can think of. There doesn't seem to be one thing he can't do. Sing? Check. Dance? Check. Mime? Check. Play instruments? Check. Design costumes? Check. Make illustrations? Check. Make you want to cry, laugh, fall in love and be nostalgic all at the same time? Check.
I sincerely hope that they get a full house of appreciative audience members on the 9th of May, whooping and cheering them on the whole night. It's a Monday night, what else are you going to be doing with your time?
Secret Solstice Festival is taking place between the 16th and the 19th of June. This is the third time this festival is held and each year it is growing stronger. It's held during the longest days of the year, so you'll get guaranteed midnight sun during the festival. It's also held inside Reykjavík, so you can go back home to sleep each night and show up fresh the next day (although if you prefer to camp, that's available too!)
This year the line-up includes Radiohead, Of Monsters and Men, Die Antwoord, Deftones, Roisín Murphy, St Germain and many, many more. Tickets for the whole time cost 24.900 ISK, although if you've got the money to spend, you can also get a ticket for 250.000 ISK to go on a special concert inside a volcano with a secret guest, or you can spend as much as 1.500.000 ISK for a ticket that will include a helicopter ride to a party inside a glacier amongst many other things.
The organisers are clearly trying to make this festival into something more than a music festival, with incredible immersive experiences.
Steampunk Iceland takes place in Bildudalur between the 20th and the 26th of June. The small village of Bíldudalur (in the stunning Icelandic Westfjords) turns into the Kingdom of Bildalia for a whole week, with almost the entire village taking part in this steampunk festival and dressing up in Victorian style. This is the third time the festival is held.
The festival is a live action role play one and events take place every night. There will be a cinema, plays, concerts and an ongoing storyline that attendants can choose to either take part in or simply observe. Find out more at Bildalia's website.
ATP Iceland. The ATP festival (All Tomorrow's Parties) originates in the UK but has now ventured abroad. The first ATP festival in Iceland took place in 2013 (you can read my review of ATP Iceland 2013 here), so this year marks the fourth one in a row that this underground festival takes place.
What's special about ATP is that the line-up doesn't include the regular performers that are on tour currently. The organisers strive to find artists that aren't headlining any other festival during that same year, and often get some fantastic artists to play that haven't performed in years.
Another special thing about the ATP festival is that they get someone to curate the festival, so they have a hand in which bands get booked and choose which films are screened (this is not just a music festival, there are also film screenings, comedy and perhaps even a quiz). This year known film director John Carpenter is the one doing the curating, so attendees can enjoy getting a glimpse into what has inspired him in his work.
This is a festival for all music lovers.
Bræðslan. Bræðslan is a music festival that takes place in Borgarfjörður Eystri in East Iceland. This year KK band and Ný Dönsk are headlining, but I'm more excited about the location than the line-up.
I mean, if you're going all the way to Borgarfjörður Eystri, from Reykjavík, you might as well make the most of your trip and enjoy the countryside in the meantime. Although I really like the line-up (don't think I've ever seen KK live!), I'm mostly interested in going to East Iceland for a little holiday, and spend some time exploring the remote East Fjords of Iceland. If I have the time, I'm going to try to go for at least a week and go hiking in the area, such as on the impressive Víknaslóðir and perhaps also to Kárahnjúkar dam.
Also, the vibe of this festival is so great, the fjord where it is held is stunning, the town is very small and cute and the music venue is a 40 year old fish factory. Only 800 tickets are sold for the festival each year, making it very small and intimate.
Gay Pride. The Icelandic Gay Pride is one of the largest festivals in the country, where everybody attends, no matter how you identify your sexuality.
The parade is my favourite bit of the festival, as well as dressing up for the day. I normally end up in my most colourful outfit, with the most outrageous make-up I can come up with and spend the majority of the day dancing on the streets with my sister and my friends. The Icelandic Gay Pride is a very family friendly event, full of colour, confetti and character, so if you're in Iceland on the 6th of August, make sure you spend your day in downtown Reykjavík!
Culture Night. On the 20th of August Culture Night takes place. This is the largest festival in Iceland, celebrating all arts and totally for free for all to attend! All throughout the day there are events going on, dance performances, music performances, poetry readings, gallery exhibitions, theatrical performances, museums are open, you can go to people's homes and have homemade waffles... The schedule for this day is normally totally overwhelming so you'll never end up doing all the things you'd like to do, but the entire day is spent enjoying all sorts of culture from every different corner of the city. One of my favourite days of the year.
RIFF. Reykjavík International Film Festival takes place between the 29th of September and the 9th of October in 2016. The festival was founded in 2004, so it's been running for 12 years now. What started off rather small has gained momentum and is bigger each year. This exciting film festival has now become a staple in Icelandic film culture, where independent and emerging filmmakers from around the world are highlighted. You can expect to see films from more than 40 countries.
Another thing that makes RIFF special, is that they constantly try to do something new, and offer their audiences new experiences. For a number of years now they've offered film screenings in swimming pools for example, and last year they offered a cinema screening within a cave. I don't know about you, but that sort of film screening is right up my street!
Perfect Paradise. Finally I have to mention the Perfect Paradise event that's taking place sometime in September. This is Huldufugl's big show this year, and as of yet it's still a big secret. This is what I will be working on all summer, and have been working on for the past few months.
What I can say is that there will be a film screening and an exciting theme around it. The event will be taking place in English, so it'll be accessible to foreigners as well as locals. The location and exact dates are still a secret. We've started releasing clues, such as in the poster for the event, as well as in a trailer that will be released shortly.
And these are the events I'm personally mostly looking forward to this summer, which ones are you looking forward to? :)