The music of Reykjavik

When you think of Icelandic music Björk and Sigur Rós probably come to mind, but the country’s music scene is a lot more varied than you might think. Icelanders love live music and you’ll find a gig on somewhere in Reykjavik most evenings.

The city’s most famous music venue is the Harpa concert hall on the waterfront. This striking modern building opened in 2011 and has become the city’s cultural centre. It’s where you’ll find the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and it also holds concerts by local and international musicians. Even if you’re not going to a concert it’s worth visiting just to see the impressive building.

If you want to discover the latest Icelandic bands, then try Klapparstigur’s Café Rósenberg. It’s run by music lovers and has regular gigs from local jazz, pop, rock and folk musicians. If you get hungry the café also serves tasty Icelandic comfort food. Húrra on Tryggvagata is another good choice, with a more alternative feel. It attracts Reykjavik’s hipsters with everything from electronica to jazz, along with occasional stand up comedy nights and film screenings. Laugavegur’s Dillon is Iceland’s largest whisky bar and has a grungier feel with rock and metal bands appearing on stage.

Reykjavik also hosts many different music festivals over the year. One of the biggest is Iceland Airwaves which takes place over five days each November. It features new music from Icelandic and international artists, and in the past Kraftwerk, the Kaiser Chiefs and Fatboy Slim have all taken part. Other big pop, rock and dance festivals include Sónar Reykjavík, the Secret Solstice and ATP Iceland. You’ll also find festivals dedicated to all sorts of other types of music. There’s a Folk Festival in March, Blues Festival in April, Jazz Festival in August and Accordion and Chamber Music Festivals in June.