Kex, Folk, and Rock and Roll
The minute the warm recycled air of the plane was replaced with the bitter cold air of Iceland I fell in love. I quickly realised this island of a meagre 40,000 square miles was a place filled with polar opposites. In the short drive from the airport, I’d been driven along some of the most treacherous roads I’d ever encountered, surrounded by a strange and desolate landscape. My driver, a man as strange as the world around me, had driven past vast expanses of rocks and huge mountain ranges and glaciers. But eventually, the rocky terrain was replaced by the polished rocks of civilisation.
The KEX Hostel, Reykjavik
Beautiful Reykjavik is a city of extremes. Surrounded by an incredible landscape, this cosmopolitan city seems, at times, to be powered by the thermal energy at your feet.
My home for the week was a short hop from the KEX Hostel, hub of Icelandic music and backpacking travellers. Situated in downtown Reykjavik, this cheap budget hostel is housed in an old biscuit factory, and has been the stage for some of the most incredible alternative music sets to grace Icelandic shores. The list of artists who have played upon these creaky old floorboards is enough to make a music lover go weak at the knees, including Sóley, Of Monsters and Men, and Ólöf Arnalds.
Many of the big names are drawn here for the Icelandic Airwaves Festival in late October, but if you can’t wait that long, there’s an excellent alternative.
The Reykjavik Folk Festival
The Reykjavik Folk Festival takes place at the KEX Hostel between the 7th and 9th March. Jam-packed with talented musicians such as Elin Ey, Snorri Helgason and Pokkabot, you can get a ticket for the bargain price of 7999 ISK – which may sounds expensive, but it’s only about £40.
This charming little festival started in 2010 as an ode to Icelandic folk music, which has a long and varied history from old Nordic sagas to the contemporary music scene. Lasting three days, the festival has a diverse range of musicians brought together by their relationship to the wonderful world of folk.
Now if the thought of that doesn’t make you wish you were in Iceland listening to the mellow tones of Icelandic folk music while sipping an ice-cold gin and tonic, I don’t know what will.
Getting to Iceland
Granted, many of you may be concerned about getting to such an unimaginably remote location, but it’s surprisingly easy. Flights leave from a number of locations in the UK including Heathrow, Lutonand Gatwick Airports, where you can find a number of cost-effective parking options to leave your car.
Then, jump on your plane to Iceland, and head to the cool city of Reykjavik. It’s generally wise to book ahead to secure a room, and if you’re not lucky enough to stay at the cool KEX hostel, there are plenty of alternative options in the city. Then,all you need to do is sit back with that ice-cold gin and tonic and soak up some amazing Icelandic music.