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Menningarnótt 2022

Reykjavík’s anniversary has been celebrated on August 18th since 1786 when the Danish King lifted the Trade Monopoly on Iceland and Reykjavík became an official town with a population of 200 people.

In 1996, Reykjavík City Council created Menningarnótt (Culture Night) as a celebration of Reykjavik’s anniversary. It is also the start of the city’s cultural year when theaters, museums, and other cultural institutions kick off their new programs.

Culture Night is held on the first weekend after the 18th of August or on the 18th if it falls on a Saturday.

This year, Reykjavík Culture Night will be held on Saturday, August 20th. It has grown into one of the largest festivals in Iceland, with more than 100,000 people participating. There are events held all across Reykjavík, with celebrations in museums, businesses, city streets and squares, and even in residential gardens. Every year Culture Night has a slogan and this year, it is "come on in!" as a homage to traditional Icelandic hospitality.

There are concerts, art shows, theater performances, guided tours, and much more throughout the day. The celebrations begin at 8 a.m. with the Reykjavík Marathon. At 10 a.m., you could go to the Maritime Museum or the Settlement Exhibition, which offers special programs throughout the day for Culture Night. A very popular event is where some residents at the neighborhood Þingholt invite visitors to their homes or gardens for free waffles and coffee.

As people wander from event to event, they will find street food and drinks offered by restaurants from all over Reykjavík. Some programs are offered specifically for children. There is an art workshop at the National Gallery of Iceland. Children can leave their handprints on paper inside Hallgrímskirkja and make a paper crown. A family scouting event is available to provide families with time to spend together participating in games and projects to solve together.

There are several different events offered for the music lover. The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra will perform at Harpa and there is an organ concert at Hallgrímskirkja. You could go to the battle of the marching bands at Klambratún. At Arnahóll, the Rás 2 (Icelandic radio) outdoor concert features some of the biggest names in Icelandic music. These are just a few choices available.

The Maze of Yggdrasil is an intriguing event “in which you’ll encounter strange and exciting environments loosely themed around the locations described in the Nordic mythology,” according to the Culture Night program guide. Culture Night ends with a fireworks show over the Harpa music hall and the harbor.

All the Culture Night events are free of charge and are organized and produced by the events team at the Reykjavík Cultural Office. If you want to read about more of the events offered, go to

Photo credit Reykjavik Marathon: Photo:Mlc, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons. All other photos by Kent Larus Bjornsson


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