Icelandic Language Blog

Menningarnótt, it’s a town-sized party! Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs

mn164A little bit of rain does not keep an Icelander from partying downtown whenever the occasion arises. It drizzled lightly the whole day of Menningarnótt (= culture night) and possibly into the evening as well, but Reykjavík downtown was as packed as it could be. No wonder, since Menningarnótt is much awaited for each summer. People begin to make their plans for it around June – and that’s only those that are planning to attend it, the ones wanting to create things for the day having started a long time in advance. If you happen to travel to Reykjavík around August keep your eyes open for this, or any other of the big celebrations of the month!


It shouldn’t be too difficult either: these ads have been around for a good while now. The web page they list on it has a thorough list of things you can see, hear or possibly eat and where to do each, and there are also helpful guides available in the local magazines. This year we forgot ours home so we had to more or less just wander around and see what we’d find, but even this approach will let you find quite many interesting things.


To name some examples we chanced to find f.ex. a blacksmiths’ demonstration show where you could get a close look at how blacksmiths work.


Naturally some of the products were also on sale.


Some things do not change much on the course of history…


There was a Kathak dance show in Harpa: Pragati Sood Anand performed some short pieces and explained the technicalities of the art.


Downtown was full of free live concerts. They were everywhere, behind every corner you were flooded with a different kind of music. This band is performing at a shop window. 😀


Spot the viking guy.


A quick photo of the crowd – city centre really was filled to the brim again, and most streets were closed for traffic. This is another reason you should keep an eye on the Menningarnótt – you may not be able to drive your car everywhere you’d like to.

Another thing you would quickly notice here is that everyone looks quite serious despite the fact that they’re actually having fun (or on their way to have fun). Don’t be alarmed, it’s just the basic Icelandic face setting. 😀


Another corner, another concert…


Suddenly! Free waffles!

“Þér er boðið í vöfflur. Namminamminammmm… beikon, brie og basil, ís, jarðarber og súkkulaðisósa, rabarbarasulta og rjómi. Gakkt í bæinn!” (= You are invited to waffles. Nomnomnommmm… bacon, brie and basil, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce, rhubarb jam and (whipped) cream. Come on in!”)


There were indeed many types of waffles with whatever you wanted to top them with.


My favourite was brie + basil. So good!


And here’s an artist at work. These balls of dough will eventually turn into thick, delicious Belgian waffles.


I found another viking, which made me suspect they would have had a show somewhere like they often do. Sword fighting, shooting arrows, throwing axes and other kinds of interesting sports for the children (although I’m sure adults find them interesting as well).


Another beautiful dress, this time one of the Icelandic national dresses (the upphlutur; link).


 Another artist at work. The text next to him says “Fleiri verk til sölu á efstu hæd” (= More works for sale on the top floor).


“Lífið er dagurinn í dag” (= Life is the day today).


Icelanders have some reputation for being fierce chess lovers, so no wonder that rain or shine the chess tables will always pop up somewhere during festivities. Anyone can partake!


Because we’re celebrating, certain things are a must. This is the queue to the downtown Vínbúðin – Vínbúðin has monopoly on selling all alcohol in Iceland, so whether it’s beer, wine or black death you’re looking for, these are the places to buy them.


“Komin frá Aþenu heimspekingurinn Sophia til samtals kl. 16-18 & 19-21” (= From Athens the philosopher Sophia is available for discussions between 16-18 and 19-21 o’clock).


This is perhaps the best photo to end the report with: there was a drawing competition at the local library for children and the theme was “the funniest smile”. A whole wall was already full of smiles so funny that I’ve no idea how to pick the funniest one of them. 😀

Here’s some sound clips from the festival along with even more photos – have fun viewing and hope to see you here with us next year!

PS: those of you who requested a name in Icelandic, I’ve now put up a video of how they’re pronounced! Link.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!