Weekend Party at the Westmann Islands Festival
At the heart of it all is Herjolfsdalur Valley near the town of Vestmannaeyjar on Heimaey Island. Here natives welcome hordes of people to their temporary tent community from all ages and walks of life, who flock here to experience the craziness that is the Westman Islands Festival. Locals host mainlanders with smoked puffin, hot coffee and of course with some alcoholic pleasantries, such as vodka! Amongst the white tents and spirited beverages, be sure to enjoy some of the impromptu sing alongs, massive bonfires or fireworks displays. Families gather in the morning to camp out, picnic, and watch entertainment from local personalities, which ranges from comedy presentations and music-fests. In the evening, young adults party to the chagrin of police officers who watch over the place and keep trouble at bay.
The first Westman Islands Festival was held in Vestmannaeyjar in 1872 to celebrate the ratification of Iceland’s Constitution. Locals could not travel to the mainland due to bad weather, but this did not diminish their desire to celebrate with the whole of Iceland. Presently, people from the mainland ironically travel to this coastal town to celebrate the Festival.
When to Go to Westmann Islands Festival
Recently, law enforcers increased their vigilance on people who bring illegal drugs. The Westman Islands Festival usually ends on a Sunday and goes on until Monday morning. The fireworks and the annual sing-along led by a local public figure are always the highlights and finale of the celebration. The simplicity of the Festival, coupled with the green valley and the breathtaking backdrop of what’s understood to be a volcano wall, is one experience that you should never miss. Book early!
For four days over the first weekend in August every year, these disparate groups collide on Heimaey, the largest and most beautiful island in the chain.
Odds n' Ends
The weather can be very fickle, so be sure to layer your clothes and always bring weather-proof gear just in case it rains. During summer, temperature will range from 24-28°F. Also bring durable walking shoes and lots of krona (Iceland currency). A trip to the Westman Islands Festival will cost you an estimated $130-$150 for the accommodation with a kitchenette, which is recommended should you decide to stay for 2 days or more; and $50-80 for a two-way 2 ½-hour ferry ride. In case you have extra time after the Festival, you might also want to experience digging lava-buried houses caused by a volcanic eruption in 1973.
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