Winter Lights Festival – Four Days of Art in the Capital Area

Winter Lights Festival is an annual event that celebrates the winter world as well as the return of sunlight after a long period of darkness. The program includes light installations, cultural events, and outdoor activities. The festival entertains both locals and visitors to Reykjavik and the surrounding towns of Hafnarfjörður, Kópavogur, Garðabær, Seltjarnarnes and Mosfellsbær. With the participation of all major museums and community pools, the program reflects the many faces of Reykjavik’s capital area.

The Winter Lights Festival 2023 will be held from February 2 to 4, and all events are free.

The festival’s motto is “light in the dark” and was first held in 2000 when Reykjavík was a European Capital of Culture.

Photo: Winter Lights Festival/Raggi Th

The Winter Festival will start on February 2 at 19:00 in the square in front of Hallgrímskirkja Church. Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson opens the festival. The light artwork that will be projected at Hallgrímskirkja is called Fuser and is by the artist Sigurð Guðjónsson.

Sigurður Guðjónsson is best known for his quantitative time-related works investigating man-made machines and technological relics in relation to their inherent aspects. By powerfully combining image and sound, the artist creates complex, multi-layered works that create an unforgettable experience for the viewer. Sigurður Guðjónsson represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale 2022. He received the Icelandic Art Prize in 2018. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Iceland and abroad.

You can check out the schedule for the festival here.

In 2021 we did a virtual walking tour, showing you some of the displayed artworks.

The Winter Lights Walking Path

Light installations will be illuminated between 18:30 and 22:00 every night of the festival, and it is a good walking tour to find all the light installations. Remember to dress warm because it is cold outside so you can enjoy the festival regardless. However, a good rule of thumb in Iceland is to always be dressed in layers!

We did a guided online walking tour in 2021 showing the festival lights; check it out below and get a feel for it.

Museum Night

Museum night will take place on Friday, February 3. From 18:00 to 23:00, many museums will open their doors and offer a fun and varied program. This evening, the focus will be on providing non-traditional events and giving visitors a new perspective on the museums. Residents and visitors of all ages can enjoy Museum Night until the evening for free. The Museum Night event is held in the capital’s six municipalities.

You can check out the schedule here. Among the museums taking part are the Reykjavik City Museums, the National Museum of Iceland, the National Gallery of Iceland, The Hafnarfjörður Open Air Museum, Gljúfrasteinn (Home of Halldór Laxness), National Design Museum of Iceland, The City Libraries, The Library of Hafnarfjörður, The Library of Kópavogur, The Pearl, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik Botanical Garden, Reykjavik City Archives, Ásmundarsalur, Campaign Against Militarism, Library of Mosfellsbær, National Archives of Iceland and many more.

You can see, for example, art exhibitions, performances, lectures, play games, go to an open house at Bessastaðir (the President’s home) and much more. We highly recommend you check out Museum Night if you possibly can.

Swimming Pool night

Swimming Pool Night. Photo: Lisa Rowland / Winter Lights Festival

Swimming pool night will return on February 4 after a three-year hiatus, with twelve pools open from 17:00-22:00 and admission free. There will be various events, and guests will have a one-of-a-kind and unusual evening. As guests are encouraged to relax and enjoy the moment, light, darkness, and joy will predominate.

Swimming Pool Night is held at the following pools:

  • Laugardalslaug
  • Vesturbæjarlaug
  • Sundhöll Reykjavíkur
  • Breiðholtslaug
  • Grafarvogslaug
  • Dalslaug
  • Árbæjarlaug
  • Sundlaug Kópavogs
  • Salalaug
  • Seltjarnarneslaug
  • Ásgarðslaug
  • Ásvallalaug

App for Outdoor Artworks

Reykjavík Art Museum operates the Reykjavík Art Walk Mobile App about outdoor works in Reykjavík. In a fun and straightforward way, you can learn about all the outdoor works in the city the Reykjavík Art Museum oversees. The app is free of charge for iOS and Android and is in both Icelandic and English. Therefore more people can enjoy Iceland’s outdoor art!

The Reykjavík Art Museum oversees about two hundred works of art in the city, and with the app, you can access information about all the artworks.

Electronic Literature Walks

The Reykjavík City of Literature also has an app called Electronic Culture Walks, where you can find guided tours in Icelandic, English, Spanish, German, and French. As the walks are electronic, you could just as well “walk” them from the comfort of your sofa if you wanted. That means you don’t have to be in Iceland to enjoy the literature walks! The app is available for both iOS and Android.

This weekend event is perfect to check out after a walking tour with Your Friend in Reykjavík!

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