Iceland music festival



In a barren festival field, one thousand-odd teens, all-smashed-out-of-their-minds and sporting the kind of knitwear last seen in a Debenham’s catalogue circa 1973, throw themselves around with Viking abandon. True, it is midnight. Even truer, it is broad daylight. And is that a bloodied minke whale burger? Oh yes…

We’re not at the V Festival anymore. We are in fact, in Iceland, within pneumonic distance of the North Pole, witnessing one of the most surreal festival experiences since Kate Moss traipsed around Glastonbury in designer wellies.   

The Iceland Inspires festival was a one-off shindig staged last summer, designed to attract tourists to the ash-strewn country in the wake of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. As a taster for more-established festivals such as the annual Iceland Airwaves (five-day gig-a-thon taking place in assorted Reykjavik venues every October), it couldn’t have worked better.

Thanks to most Icelanders being a few narwhals short of a pod (this is a place where 70% of people believe in elves), the best bands are often deranged local ones – Stylist watches mesmerised as a Florence Welch doppelganger skits about with a cape and accordion.

But Icelandic festivals aren’t just about music (although previous Airwaves’ rosters have included Flaming Lips and Hot Chip). Instead, you have to engage in the experience, whether it’s wolfing down putrefied shark meat or sporting the kitsch knitwear that’s de rigueur for Icelandic hipsters. Plus, thanks to its economy imploding in 2008, Iceland is now cheaper to visit than Iceland supermarket (probably).

But the most astonishing thing is the festival-goers themselves, who drink like alcoholic fish adrift in a sea of vodka. It’s not unusual to find yourself at 6am partying in somebody’s Reykjavik home. What’s more: there’s no camping, meaning you can slope back to your hotel where toilet roll never runs out and you won’t wake up with your mate’s whiffy feet wedged next to your head.

Soaking in the Blue Lagoon’s eau-de-sulphur the following day offers the world’s best hangover cure, while you can gaze at crystal-blue glaciers and eerie lunarscapes so beautiful even Katie Price would weep with poetic contemplation. Then start the mayhem all over again…