If you are camping in Iceland from 29th of July to 1st of August this year (2016), you will be camping on the biggest camping weekend of the year, without competition. All the biggest camping sites will be packed with Icelanders celebrating the Tradesmen’s weekend. In Iceland it’s called Verslunarmannahelgin. This is a holiday that goes back to 2nd of August, 1894.
It’s a holiday when all shops closes on the first Monday in August and slowly became the biggest camping weekend in Iceland every year. After WWII, the holiday became a holiday for all Icelanders and they use that holiday for traveling, camping and celebrating. During the 60’s it became popular to have organised outdoor events and nowadays, you can find these events all around the country with the biggest one being in the Westman islands. All the organised festivals are usually very booked so you need to plan ahead if you want to take part of the celebrations.
A few years back it was calculated that 80% of all Icelanders where out camping during this holiday which is quite a staggering number. There are not many Icelanders who hasn’t stories to tell from their trips during this weekend in their youth. Many travels to the same camp sites to meet old friends, meet new friends and just to enjoy being outdoors.
During this weekend, there are events all over Iceland, some more popular than others, some more localized while other events has been advertised about months before.
So where can you go then? Well, you will be welcome wherever you go. The only question is if there will be a camping spot available for your camper van rental.
We have featured two big festivals taking place during the Tradesmen’s weekend and you can read about them here:
Here is a list of a few others of the events so you can plan your trip around Iceland.
This is also one of the bigger ones and takes place in East Iceland, in the town of Neskaupsstað to be exact. This is a family oriented festival (well, most are). The whole town is decorated in different colors, one color for one neighborhood and when the festivities starts, the different neighborhoods starts parading simultaneously, from their neighborhood, to meet up at the festival area. The festivities have in recent years started already on the Thursday with a big concert with the biggest names in Iceland performing.
You will find market fairs, dances and a beach party for the younger kids. Like many of these festivals, they end up with a big bonfire on Sunday evening.
GPS Coordinates: 65° 8’56.76″N 13°41’1.22″W
The Herring adventure
Síldarævintýrið (The Herring adventure) in Siglufirði in North Iceland combines two celebrations. First, as the name suggests, its a celebration to the days when the fishing for Herring was gold and was fished in great quantities. A big part of Siglufirði grew because of the success they had fishing for Herring and Siglufirði became the center of Herring fishing. You will also get to exprience how life was back in the day by witnessing the whole process and it all ends with a big dance by the docks. Good fun for the whole family.
The second reason is of course the Tradesmen’s weekend. As with all these festivals, the town will be full of fun with entertainment for the whole family. Not only can you take part of all the festivities, you can also get more familiar what it meant for the village to fish Herring. It can actually be compared to the Gold rush.
GPS Coordinates: 66° 9’0.08″N 18°54’37.60″W
Read more: Camping in Iceland
Ein með öllu
Ein með öllu means one with everything, referring to ordering an Icelandic hot dog where many orders “One with all the extras”. This festival takes place in Akureyri, up north in Iceland. During the traditional Tradesmen’s weekend activities like all kind of concerts, events, show and what not, the people in Akureyri also hosts what they call The Icelandic summer games.
The main objective of these games is to give everybody a chance, both groups, families and individuals to try different sports like mounting hiking, triathlon, ocean swimming, mountain bike racing, golf or perhaps beach volleyball. Both locals and guests are encouraged to take part and it’s really an event for the whole active family.
GPS Coordinates: 65°41’27.14″N 18° 5’15.05″W
If your trip around Iceland takes you to Reykjavik when the Tradesmen’s weekend start, do not panic. You don’t have to leave the city to take part of the celebration. Innipúkinn (could very loosely be translated to “indoor party pooper”, a person who always wants to be inside, not taking part of any outdoor events) is a Reykjavik festival for those people who may can’t leave town or people who doesn’t like camping (What? There are such people??).
This is their 15th year running and is very popular with those who stays in Reykjavik. The name suggests it’s literally indoors but that is not the case. They have concession stands, concerts and what not outdoors too but the festival is concentrated around music and concerts indoors. It’s a festival that has gained more and more momentum with each year running.
GPS Coordinates: 64° 8’54.50″N 21°56’26.28″W
This are just a few (and the biggest ones) of the festivals happening during this weekend for there are events going on all around the country and you are bound to pass one if you are driving around Iceland between the 29th of July to 1st of August.
There is one thing you have to be aware of and that is the traffic situation during these days, especially on the Thursday and Friday and then on the Monday. When the weekend begins, the traffic is not as congested as on the Monday. If you have a flight on Monday, you have to leave really early before the main bulk of the traffic hits the roads for you might get stuck in traffic nightmares are made of. We are talking many miles long queues and there is no way to hurry either if you get stuck so plan your drive back accordingly.
Read more: Camping regulations
Happy camping! #WohoCamper
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