On June 17 each year, Iceland celebrates its anniversary of gaining independence from Denmark and officially establishing the Republic of Iceland. This year’s celebrations will continue to blend cultural traditions from years past with a reinvigorated hope for Iceland’s progressive future.
June 17th was chosen as the commemoration because it honors the birthday of the Icelandic Independence Movement’s founding father, Jón Sigurðsson. The National Day of Iceland is mainly celebrated in Reykjavík, beginning in the morning with formal ceremonies honoring Icelandic independence and Jón Sigurðsson. These traditional ceremonies include the chiming of Reykjavík church bells and a mass in Domkirkjan Cathedral. From there, City Council Chairman Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir will lead a parade from the government’s national celebrations at Austurvöllur Square to Suðurgata Cemetery, where she will lay a wreath of flowers on Jón Sigurðsson’s grave.
Though the more formal ceremonies will end in the early afternoon, celebrating Icelandic culture still plays a huge role in the rest of the festivities! Women play a large role in the day’s various performances wearing national dress to perform as “Fjallkonan” or “Mountain Women” and addressing crowds with poems and stories.
Across Reykjavík, the entire city will take part in the extravaganza. There will be a parade and a color guard originating in Hlemmur and Hagatorg Square, followed by family-friendly outdoor play sets, puppet shows, concerts, and even a guest appearance from the Icelandic circus in Hljómskálagarður! There will also be classes for families to enjoy – past celebrations have included Zumba classes for all attendees.
Accompanying all of these wonderful activities for both young and old are popular food and drink booths, allowing for a truly culturally immersive experience. The nationwide celebrations don’t end until 6 pm local time.
Let us know how you’re celebrating Iceland’s National Day this year by tweeting us at @IcelandNatural!