It’s hardly a controversial opinion that Iceland is a really special place, like a truly nothing-on-this-planet-is-really-like-this place. But it really is. Maybe it seems like an unlikely place for a music festival that spans all genres, all levels and champions a surprising number of Icelandic artists (every other person in this country must be musically talented I swear) but when you’re there, it all makes sense.

Reykjavik is a young, modern city

I’m not entirely sure what you expect, coming into the most densely populated part of Iceland (from the actually-quite-far-away airport in Keflavik) but Reykjavik is one of the most exciting, vibrant cities out there. Okay, ye,s the festival helps with that feeling, but round every corner there’s a great bar, interesting shop, brilliant art gallery (how does a city this size have so many great galleries? Not to mention the shops are so creative that they’re basically galleries in their own right). It just feels like an exciting place to be, a city challenging itself to push things forward and Airwaves is a large part of contributing to that.

The Music is a wonderful mix

Iceland Airwaves is truly a curated festival, rather than adhering to a niche it’s the type of event that will allow you to see someone like Georgia completely smash it on a huge stage, follow it with the addictive Nordic pop of Otha, only to find you moments later propelled into an unbelievably moving performance from Gabriel Olafs in a Church next to a frozen lake. Most festivals say they have something for everyone but really, how many come good on that promise? Oh and yes, Eurovision performers Hatari played. Yes, it was just as wild as you’d think it would be.

Don’t underestimate the food

Iceland isn’t known for its delicious delicacies (just ask those who dared try shark) but there are a handful of affordable and amazing places to grab a bite these days. Between bands squeeze into Ramen Momo and make sure you have dumplings, head to Sægreifinn for some warming Lobster soup, or try the actual best pizza from Flatey (and a cocktail while you’re at it, trust me), the options aren’t endless but they’re damn good.

It’s the perfect opportunity to see more.

Going to Iceland Airwaves gives you the chance to see so much more than just music. Yes it’s in the city centre, but with no issues at all (there are seriously so many tour groups, or just hire a car) you can break out of its limits and explore the lava-covered land. Brave the freezing weather to see stunning waterfalls (there are so many it’s just ridiculous), jump into naturally warmed pools in the middle of nowhere or just dip your hand in the hot streams and marvel at the wonder of this magical country and all it has to offer.

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