The dramatic topography and untouched mountainous landscape of the Westfjords may only have a small number of towns with few people. Nevertheless, these locals have a rich, vibrant and unique culture all their own: one that is not just a tribute to nature’s bounties but also the Nordic spirit of celebration and there’s plenty of fun, games, skiing, music and sport to look forward to.
Here are some of the festivals celebrated in the Westfjords:
Blueberry Days, Sudavik
Organised over a weekend in August, this colourful fest makes the most of the plentiful harvest of wild blueberries from the surrounding mountains and fields. So be it picking the berries by hand, tasting local food, a community bonfire or pie eating competitons; with local and international musicians playing every night, this is the stuff memories are made of.
Swamp Soccer, Bolungarvik
Some may call it strange or even weird, but there’s no taking away from the sheer distinctiveness of of playing soccer in a swamp. And this is not just any swamp soccer, it is the European Championship itself! The setting amidst the mountains of Bolungarvik matches the sheet exhilaration.
The rules are simple-more like guidelines-and all in good spirit. Here’s a sample: In case anyone gets hurt, the one who causes it must kiss the hurt away! Tourists can also join in, just bring some duct tape to fix the shoes to your feet and make sure they don’t get lost in the mud. The game is physically demanding and you must be ready to get down and dirty.
Held during the Icelandic Shopkeepers Holiday weekend, there are plenty of festivities – concerts, fireworks and bonfires to complement the soccer.
Easter Ski Week, Isafjordur
Sure, Easter is a spring holiday for all of Europe but in Westfjords, it is redolent of winter and the Easter Ski Week.
From a one night event, it has gone from strength to strength in popularity and scale. It is now held between Thursday and the Monday after with various skiing and cultural events. The very popular Aldrei for eg Sudur music festival was added to the celebrations in Ísafjörður in 2004.
Naturally, the celebrations have an Icelandic flavour. Maundy Thursday is a popular day to be confirmed. Easter eggs are an important aspect of the holiday with a variety of fillings and some philosophy to go with it. Roasted lamb is traditional for Sunday dinner.
Seaman’s Day, Patreksfjordur
Both the culture and economy of Iceland owe much to the sea, the fishing industry and our brave fishermen. Since 1938, as a mark of respect, the first weekend of June, is celebrated as Seaman’s Day with much gusto through all of Iceland’s coastline towns and villages.
The fishing town of Patreksfjordur in the Southern Westfjords has some of the best celebrations in all of Iceland, where the town has made this festival into its local town festival.
It might sound a bit over the top but the town is divided into two teams, houses and streets are decorated in two different colours and the festival goes on for four days.
With a calendar full of events for adults and children, sailing concerts, theatre, markets, competitions and parades; there is something for everyone!