Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival begins this week

The opening piece at the Winter Lights festival in 2016.

The opening piece at the Winter Lights festival in 2016. Iceland Monitor/ Árni Sæberg

The annual Winter Lights Festival will take place from February 2nd to February 5th in all six municipalities of the capital area. This is the sixteenth time that this festival of light and darkness is held, comprising four main features – Museum Night, Swimming Pool Night, Snow Party  and  Light Art – along with more than 150 events to which countless artists contribute in order to create a unique ambiance in the Greater Reykjavík area.  Green and purple – the hues of the Northern Lights – have been adopted as the Festival’s identifying colours, and almost thirty buildings in the capital area will be floodlit in those colours – more than ever before.   

The aim of the Winter Lights Festival is to offer fun experiences to the people of the capital area, with the opportunity to enjoy culture and the arts, sports and outdoor life in their home town and/or by visiting neighbouring communities. Visit Reykjavík supervises the Winter Lights Festival, and all events at Museum Night and Swimming Pool Night are free. Energy provider Orkusalan is the principal sponsor of this year’s Winter Lights Festival. 

Winter Lights Festival - schedule: 

2 February (Thursday), 19:40: Winter Lights Festival opening at Hallgrímskirkja: light art installation, illuminated horse-ride by Fákur equestrian club. Buildings floodlit in Festival colours. 

3 February (Friday) 18-23: Museum Night at 45 museums, galleries and libraries. Brekkusprettur cycle race, 19.00. 

4 February (Saturday) 18-23: Swimming Pool Night at nine pools. 

19.00 WOW Northern Lights Fun Run 

5 February (Sunday) 10-17 : Snow Party  in the Bláfjöll mountains. 


5 February (Sunday) 21-22: Street lights turned off in central Reykjavík.

+ 150 more events

Hallgrímskirkja church bathed in light at last year's WInter Festival.

Hallgrímskirkja church bathed in light at last year's WInter Festival. Iceland Monitor/ Árni Sæberg

Winter Lights Festival Opening Night: Volcanic eruption on Hallgrímskirkja and illuminated horse-ride

The Winter Lights Festival will commence on Thursday 2 February at 19.34 with the unveiling of a light-art installation, Creation, projected onto the walls of Hallgrímskirkja. The work, by artist Ingvar Björn, is a compilation of video footage of Icelandic volcanoes erupting – including the Holuhraun eruption of 2014-15. The images will be accompanied by an audio work including a recital of all the major eruptions in Icelandic history. 

The Festival will be inaugurated by Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson, followed by an illuminated ride by horses and riders of the Fakur equestrian club, from the church, down Skólavörðustígur and to Arnarhóll, where the public will have an opportunity to meet the riders and pet the horses. 

As the opening ceremony of the Winter Lights Festival takes place, over a dozen buildings in all the communities of the Reykjavík area will be floodlit in the Festival’s colours  – the green and purple of the Northern Lights. The floodlighting will continue throughout the festival. 

Museum Night

Museum Night will be held on the evening of Friday 3 February, when 45 museums, galleries and libraries in the Reykjavík area will be open 18-23 , offering a range of events. Residents and visitors in the capital area can enjoy more than 120 events of all shapes and sizes on Museum Night. At Gerðarsafn, the Kópavogur Art Museum, for instance, you can attend a hot-dog party in the Garðskálinn bistro; or make a ghost-mask at Seltjarnarnes Library; attend the opening of Ilmur Stefánsdóttir’s exhibition at the Reykjavík Art Museum – Hafnarhúsið; do yoga at Mosfellsbær Library; hear a thrilling folk tale at the Whales of Iceland exhibition; experience a circus of light and sound at the Reykjavík City Library on Tryggvagata; see real Vikings at the Saga Museum, go on a treasure-hunt at the Design Museum in Garðabær, have your fortune told or take a Ghost Tour at the Árbær Museum, see the northern lights at Aurora Reykjavík, the numismatic collection at the Central Bank, and ghosts of times past at the Hitt Húsið youth centre; see real blacksmiths and Vikings at the Settlement Exhibition; hear punk bands at  the Punk Museum; and go stargazing at Hafnarfjörður Library. 

The free Museum Night Bus will run between the participating sites all over the capital area, making it easier to reach the different venues. An unusual feature of the Museum Night Bus this year is that films will be screened on the bus ride, courtesy of the National Film Archive. The Museum Night Bus terminus will be at Reykjavík Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaðir.

On Friday 3 February the Brekkusprettur cycle race will take place at 19.00 on Skólavörðustígur.

Swimming Pool Night

Swimming Pool Night will take place on the evening of Saturday 6 February: nine pools in the Greater Reykjavík area will offer free admission from 18.00 to 23.00 for swimmers to experience a unique atmosphere of lights, darkness and fun. This year’s programme offers a wide range of activities, including yoga, dance, relaxing group-floating with flotation aids, kayaking in the pool, water polo, Improv Iceland and music from Jón Jónsson. The participating pools are Árbæjarlaug, Vesturbæjarlaug and Laugardalslaug in Reykjavík, Ásvallalaug, Salalaug (Versalir) and Sundlaug Kópavogs in Kópavogur, the Álftanes pool, Klébergslaug in Kjalarnes and Lágafellslaug in Mosfellsbær. 

WOW Northern Lights Fun Run

On the Friday of the Winter Lights Festival the first WOW Northern Lights Fun Run will take place: on this five-kilometre run, participants will wear illuminated armbands that flash in time with their footsteps. The Northern Lights Fun Run starts at Harpa and follows a route through the city centre. Since this is not a race but a fun run, there will be no winners (and no losers). For more information see northernlightsfunrun.is

Snow Party

On 5 February, the last Day of the Winter Lights Festival, we celebrate the snow and the rising sun at Reykjavík’s ski area in the Bláfjöll mountains. Programme of events from 10 to 17. Free skiing up to and including the age of 16, and 20% discount on ski hire. Special offers on refreshments. 

Street lights turned off

Street lights will be turned off in central Reykjavik from 21-22 on Sunday 5 February in connection with the festival.  This is done to draw attention to the concept of dark quality and to make people experience the sky in its purest form.

Further information:

winterlightsfestival.is

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