Iceland is pretty famous for equal rights, LGBTQA support, and gay history. It is the land of waterfalls, rainbows, and elves after all. There haven’t been any unicorn sightings, but there’s plenty of stunningly beautiful regular horses. Lonely planet has even deemed it one of the most gay-friendly travel destinations in the world.
Reykjavik has been celebrating Pride since 1999 and over 150,000 people attend annually. That isn’t much compared to NYC Pride, San Francisco Pride, or World Pride, but its huge per capita. Remember, Iceland is only a tiny island nation of about 330,000 citizens. Counting the international visitors, the attendees equal about half the country. Could you imagine what London LGBT Pride would look like if half of the UK showed up?
This little sleeper town certainly knows how to celebrate though. Rainbow floods the city for the entire week, with a painted walkway changing location each year. Previously the steps at MR and one of Reykjavík’s most well known streets, Skólavörðustígur, were painted.
This year, Reykjavík Pride is set to be bigger than ever. In 2010, the mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr attended in drag, and then his successor Dagur B. Eggertsson followed suit. Yep. The mayors. In. Drag.
Eggertsson also started the 2016 Pride festival by painting the steps of MR, the Reykjavík Junior College. That was all fun until current President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson attended the event making him the first elected president in the world to participate in a pride festival. He’s openly supported the rights of the marginalized prior to even taking office.
This year’s Pride schedule is still being finished, but you can find most all the information about Hinsegin dagar on their website here.
One of the best ways to join the party is by staying right in the center of it. The best spot to camp overnight in the city is Reykjavík Campsite, near Laugardagslaug pool. From there, you can take your van right to the center of downtown and find a parking spot, free on the weekends.
Certain roads will be closed along the parade route, but your best bet is right near the beginning of the parade and BSI bus terminal. After that, the city is your oyster and you’ll be right in the heart of Reykajvík Pride.
There’s a few must-see Pride locations including:
Samtökin 78 Community Center, the hub of the Hinsegin dagar team and a huge mural of a magically Bowie inspired unicorn.
Kiki Queer Bar, the only place to dance to Robin late on a Saturday night with a gin & tonic.
and Bravó, right below it.
The Reykjavík Rainbow Museum, a new project inside Harpa showcasing the beauty of nature’s most fabulous phenomenon.
Then, be sure to tout your patronage to these gay owned Icelandic businesses:
Iða Zimsen, a lesbian-owned cafe with a great selection of books and crafts to pair with their decked out menu.
Café Babalú, a gay-owned café on Skólavörðustígur with great hot chocolate and traditional soups.
Gaukurinn, the best place to go out for the night featuring Drag Súgur performances and gender neutral bathrooms.
Jómfrúin, nordic style sandwiches right in the heart of downtown.
Pink Iceland, an LGBTQ+ travel agency that can definitely help you plan a wedding in Iceland.
*Bonus Points*: Once you’re done with Reykjavík Pride, take your campervan up to Seyðisfjörður, a small village in the east of Iceland, and check out their rainbow road.
Ready to camp out gay and Happy at Reykjavík Pride 2017?
Some of Michael’s other posts include:
The Secret Lagoon
Camping the Golden Circle