Monday, August 10, 2009

The festival I must go to someday

We’ve spent the past few days in the Westman Islands – or island, since only one of the 15 is habited. This little place has a lot of interesting sites – puffins, great hiking and the ability to see the effects of a major volcanic eruption that took place only 36 years ago, in 1973.

But the event that has brought people to the Westman Islands for decades is the music festival held every year during the first week of August. We tried to attend, but not only was all the accommodation booked (though camping was available), but all the ferries and planes were full.

It’s a four-day event, which includes one day where people hook up with another partner, one day of bonfire, one day of firecrackers and one day in which a local leader who served time in jail for corruption led everyone in song. For all four days, bands take the stage day and night.

Friends say it can get wild and is primarily for the young. But one middle-aged woman I spoke with on the island said that everyone attends. “It’s good for the parents to be here too and keeping an eye on their kids,” she said.

This year, over 14,000 people attend, increasing the usual population of 4,100 multiple times during a week of festivities. We visited the site of the festival, right next to a beautiful 18-hole golf course (the world’s only golf course on a crater) and it was remarkably clean just one week after the party.

I’d still like to attend. But next time, I’ll book accommodations well in advance, and perhaps I’ll wait until my son is old enough to enjoy it, so that I can join the Icelandic parents keeping an eye on their kids.

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