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Everything you need for PRIDE in Iceland this year

by Daniel Scheffler
Reykjavik Pride Festival

One more of those unique things about this celebration of love, it’s more diverse in every possible way you can imagine

Iceland is for queer people. Not only is this little island nation queer friendly, they fly more than just the rainbow flag – they are number one on the LGBT Equality Index. Now that you are sufficiently impressed, pack your bags – this year’s PRIDE is waiting.

Reykjavík Pride, or “Hinsegin dagar” as it is known locally, will take place August 6 to August 11, 2024 and as they say, half the country attends the celebrations and locals call it “the world’s biggest small Pride.” It is after all the 25th year of celebration, pride, protest and visibility. And this year it will encompass over 50 events including talks, meetups, screenings, concerts and plenty of parties all over the capital.

Gleigangan

Gleigangan

“The highlights are our opening ceremony, Drag Djók (biggest drag show of the year), a queer boat cruise, the outdoor festival, the closing ceremony and, of course, the official Pride march,” shares Helga Haraldsdòttir, the President of Reykjavik Pride. “Many of the activities will take place in our Pride center where we have a Cafè, two venues and also our Pride store.” But you’ll know exactly where it’s all happening since during Pride, a part of the street Skólavörðurstígur (a great Icelandic word you can practice saying whilst you’re in town), which leads from Hallgrímskirkja to Laugavegur, is painted in a perfect rainbow.

And for the rest, this Pride stays away from the usual corporate sponsorship model, so it doesn’t just have random banks and drug companies’ names plastered everywhere. Instead what you will see are the costumes, the outfits, the flags and perhaps you might even run into the First Lady of Iceland (although she’s Canadian) as she loves to join the festivities (I did, and we chatted). One more of those unique things about this celebration of love, it’s more diverse in every possible way you can imagine. The country itself just wants to show support and that’s a perfect reason to spend your time right here.

Reykjavik Pride Parade

Reykjavik Pride Parade

Who will help me get my trip organized?
Pink Iceland might be well known for their premium queer wedding planning (in case you thought of getting hitched close to some fjords or an almost erupting volcano), but they also design the finest travel experiences to the island. They have some fabulous self drive itineraries and also tailor made private tours for you and your lover, or your entire group of friends. You can do the classic Golden Circle loop (like 180 miles) to see geothermal sites, waterfalls and national parks. Or you can go off the beaten track and they can arrange a private tour of some peninsulas, and beaches.

So, what’s the best way to get there?
The flagship carrier of course. And that’s Icelandair. They fly from the usual big cities, including New York, Seattle, DC, Chicago and Boston but they have also added Baltimore, Raleigh, Detroit and Denver (plus more) to the direct roster to the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.

Gleigangan

Gleigangan

What are some things I should absolutely not miss?
For starters there is Kiki’s, the queer hotspot bar in town where everyone you’d want to meet will at some point end up.

Puffins. Which just seems like a queer bird, right? Is it their fabulous make-up face perhaps? Well, they come to Iceland to breed and nest, and will absolutely be there during Pride. They’re common on the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) which is an archipelago of 15 islands

Björk. She’s the most famous person to come out of Iceland for sure. And she’s pretty laid-back and chilled. You might see her around the island blowing space bubbles, or buying milk and cookies at the local grocer, maybe practicing opera with friends in the tundra, or just simply scattering food for the Skeljaskrímsli (a sort of pangolin). You never know, but she’s the epitome of queer creativity for sure.

Now, if you need some respite, grab a quick taxi to Blue Lagoon for a very leisurely soak in some thermal water. There are two ways to do this as a day visit – either the classic Blue Lagoon where you can bob in the silica, algae, and mineral rich water with a drink in hand, or next door at the Retreat Spa where you can do all of that plus have specialized spa treatments like their spa ritual (I won’t ruin the surprise, trust me, it’s perfection) or an in water massage.


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