Though seemingly perpetually packed in previous years, the numbers of tourists coming into Iceland continues to grow each year by the hundreds of thousands. While it might at times seem like a trendy fad, the dazzling landscapes, mystic hot springs, and loving people all more than justify the continuing influx. Flying into Reykjavik for the few days of Iceland Airwaves reveal those wonders and more, including the diverse, vibrant musical scene that feels like the beating heart of one of the most magical places on earth.
The way that Iceland Airwaves is organized allows attendees every opportunity to experience every single aspect of the country and the music scene. Concerts are held in handfuls of spaces across Reykjavik—from traditional venues to public pools, dive bars to hostels. Wandering through the city between shows gives fans the opportunity to experience the rest of what Iceland has to offer, as well, every break an opportunity for something special.
The most incredible moments, of course, are happening in song. While headliners like Blood Orange, Superorganism, and The Voidz leave massive crowds in awe, the secret to a successful Iceland Airwaves comes in stumbling upon the bands you’ve never heard of and discovering a new favorite. Whether you’re into visceral, empowering rap (Reykjavíkurdætur) in an art museum, blissful indie pop (Tara Mobee) on a rooftop bar, or thunderous noise rock (Hórmónar) in a hostel, Iceland Airwaves has the perfect answer right around the corner.
Senior writer Lior Phillips was on the scene, heavy winter coat and all, to capture all of the magic of Iceland Airwaves. Discover some of the beauty below with her exhaustive photo gallery, and be sure to check out her audio reports from the festival on special episodes of her podcast, This Must Be the Gig. Lior’s first episode from Reykjavik features two members of the surreally spectacular Superorganism. Stream above.