Welcome to Vaka, a celebratory autumn folk music festival that weaves together tradition, culture, and community in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland.
The name "Vaka," which can be loosely translated as 'wake' or 'vigil', refers to the time that people would traditionally spend reciting poetry and performing songs in the turf houses of Iceland. Embracing this heritage, the festival is a spirited three-day celebration of folk music, dance and community, encompassing concerts, workshops, talks and a communal dining experience.
Whether you are a seasoned folk fanatic, or a newcomer looking for an introduction to Icelandic traditions, we encourage everyone who is curious about traditional music and culture to come along and take part. Most of the festival will be delivered in both English and Icelandic, and workshops are open to beginners. The weekend festival pass allows access to all parts of the festival at a discounted price, including all of the workshops. Individual tickets are also available to each event.
Vaka Folk Music Festival invites you to embark on a journey through time and culture, where the ancient traditions of Iceland intertwine with modern expressions. Join us in Reykjavík this autumn and experience the awakening of tradition at Vaka - a celebration that bridges the past and present.
Friday: Day of the Rímur
The 15th of September marks the Icelandic day of the Rímur, a unique Icelandic singing style. This first day of the festival is programmed by Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn, Reykjavík’s regional traditional song organisation. They will celebrate Rímur in all its glory with a concert in Kex, where poetic storytelling takes centre stage. Skilled 'kvæðamenn' will bring historical narratives to life, featuring performances in both traditional acapella form, as well as modern iterations with acoustic and electronic acompaniament.
Saturday: Workshops and Feast
Saturday takes place at Kex Hostel and begins with workshops in traditional singing, music and dance, led by seasoned instructors. Free for festival pass holders, these workshops provide the opportunity for participants to join hands with fellow festival-goers, learn a new skill and polish up their steps for the evening ahead! Saturday night is the heart of Vaka Folk Festival: join us for a lavish vegan harvest feast from the expert chefs at Arctic Taiga. Showcasing the finest locally sourced ingredients, expect a meal that not only delights the palate but also pays homage to Iceland's harvest season. Once guests are well and truly satiated, the tables will be pushed aside to make room for dancing. Everyone is welcome on the dancefloor, with experts on hand to guide you through each step. Local favourites Byzantine Silhouettes close out the evening with their hot blend of Icelandic and Balkan dance tunes.
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Free seminar Sunday closes out the festival with a seminar and open forum in conjunction with the Árni Magnússon Institute. Delivered predominantly in Icelandic, speakers will offer their perspectives on the past, present, and future of Icelandic folk music for the first session, while the second will focus on the langspil, Iceland's iconic musical instrument. Coffee and refreshments are provided.
Tickets and information
The festival pass offers access to all areas of the programme at a discounted price and is the best value option for those interested in exploring the full festival. Tickets are also available for both Friday and Saturday nights, as well as the individual Saturday workshops. The Sunday programme is free to attend, although booking through tix.is is encouraged to reserve your place.
For more information and updates please follow us on Facebook. The full programme can be
found on our website, vakareykjavik.is.