Today, June 17th, is Iceland’s National Day, which celebrates the country gaining full independence from Denmark in 1944. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of national hero Jón Sigurðsson, who was at the forefront of Iceland’s independence movement.
National Day is typically celebrated across Iceland “with parades led by marching bands and scouts following a color guard,” explains the official National Day website. “Ceremonies often include an address or poetry reading by a woman dressed as fjallkonan, the Mountain Woman, wearing Iceland’s national costume. Fjallkonan represents the Icelandic spirit and nature and became a symbolic figure in Iceland’s fight for independence.” This year, Fjallkonan will be portrayed by Iceland’s preeminent Drag Queen, Gógó Starr.
There will be a full schedule of events for the whole family in and around downtown Reykjavík, starting at 10:00 AM with “the chiming of all church bells in Reykjavík,” and followed by a mass at the National Cathedral. At 11:10, there will be a governmental ceremony in Austurvöllur Square, including a parade to Hólavallagarður cemetery on Suðurgata, where a wreath will be placed on Jón Sigurðsson’s grave. There will be parades from both Hlemmur and Hagatorg at 1:00 PM, and all sorts of family entertainment in the park near Tjörnin pond, including a puppet show, concerts, and performances and entertainment by the Icelandic Circus.
Read more about National Day and the schedule of free events (in English) here.