Iceland airwaves started as a small gathering of local artists and bands performing at an airplane hangar in Reykjavik airport in 1999 - with Sigurrós & GusGus headlining. Since then the festival has grown enormously both in size and structure. Iceland airwaves now remains the biggest music festival in Iceland as well as being considered one of the most acknowledged music festivals around the world. Iceland Airwaves has served a big role in introducing Icelandic music, artists and performers over the years, but also attracted big names from the international music scene, such as; Florence and the Machine, Kraftwerk, Sinéad O’Connor, Flaming Lips, Digable Planets, Beach House, John Grant, The Antlers, The Rapture, Vampire Weekend, Fat boy Slim, Robyn, Hot Chip and more.
Among Icelandic bands and artists that have performed at the festival are; Björk, Sigurrós, Of Monsters and Men, Ásgeir, Kaleo, GusGus, Mugison, Sóley, Múm, Retro Stefson and more. Iceland Airwaves festival is scheduled during the first week of November. The festival attracts music lovers from all over the world and now the vast majority of 8000 festival guests come from abroad or approximately 3 out of every 4 guests. The event also lures hundreds of journalists, people and scouts from the music industry.
The program spans five days, is set on Wednesday and closed on Sunday. There are numerous of venues that host the organized events - but lately Harpa has become the main concert hall for the festival. During Iceland Airwaves there’s an extensive off venue program where local and foreign bands and artists perform at venues, bars, cafés, hostels etc (free admission). For example recent years Kex hostel in collaboration with Seattle radio station KEXP has presented and broadcasted an ambitious off venue program where some of the biggest names at the festival each year perform.
Location: Harpa Concert Hall, Listasafn Reykjavíkur, Gamla Bíó, Iðnó, Gaukurinn and more
When: First week of November.
Secret Solstice took off with a blast three years ago with an impressive lineup that included; Massive Attack, School boy Q, Disclosure, Woodkid and Jamie Jones. 8000 people attended the festival in it’s first year, of which 2000 guests came from abroad. Next couple of years the festival continued to growing larger - lining up bigger acts then before, peaking with Radiohead headlining in 2016. The festival features over 150 artists, including popular bands, performers and dj’s from the music scene in Iceland. In 2017 Secret Solstice has already announced following artists; Foo Fighters, Prodigy, Richard Ashcroft, Rick Ross, Big Sean and Chaka Khan.
Secret Solstice is held during solstice in June, when the sun remains visible for 24 hours a day, creating a phenomenon known as the midnight sun (lasting for two months). The festival is located in Laugardalur, a green valley in central Reykjavik, approximately 15 minutes walk from downtown area. This year Secret Solstice expanded it’s setup offering more areas and stages than before as well as presenting all acts as outside events (for the first time). It’s estimated by festival planners that somewhere between 20.000 - 24.000 people attended the festival this year, making it the biggest music festival in Iceland, exceeding Icelandic Airwaves in attendants numbers.
Location: Laugardalur, Reykjavík
When: Midnight sun weekend in June
Sonar Reykjavik is a part of Sonar international music brand created in 1994 with Sonar Barcelona. Sonar festivals (in major cities around the world) are pioneers in regards to cultural and unique formats and content - combining a playful nature, the avant-garde and experimentation with newest trend in dance and techno music. Sonar Reykjavik is a three day festival during mid February and was held for the first time in Harpa Music Hall in 2012. Harpa has hosted the event ever since.
Approximately 3500 guests enjoy over 70 artists and dj’s perform each year, including such names from the industry as; Skrillex, James Blake, Major Lazer, De la Soul, Jon Hopkins, Fat boy Slim, Squarepusher, LFO,Todd Terje, Paul Kalkbrenner, Nina Kravitz, and more. The festival takes place on five stages, including two big main rooms. The underground parking area is altered into a nightclub during the festival where local and international dj’s perform.