annual social events

Þjóðhátíð, Vestmannaeyjar's national festivalThe Festival, as it is simply called, is unquestionably the best known festival in Iceland, attracting the greatest number of mainland visitors. Held in Herjólfsdalur on the first weekend in August, it is a 3-4 day outdoor festival where having a good time is everyone's easily fulfilled aim. The whole weekend is packed with entertainment of all description, including the traditional bonfire, fireworks and the famous "hillside sing-along". Specially built structures fill the valley, not to mention the large white tents of the locals who literally move house during the festival and prove their famed hospitality by welcoming guests to coffee, smoked puffin and other delicacies.

Celebrating the end of the eruption.This has become a fixed event in Vsetmannaeyjar's social life. It is held on the weekend following 3rd July, the day in 1973 when the eruption was officially declared at an end. On Saturday night the island's pubs open their doors and floors to musicians of all descriptions who are encouraged to sing and play to their hearts delight. A great number of former islanders choose this weekend to come back home for a visit.

The thirteenthThe 13th day of Christmas, traditionally a festive day in Vestmannaeyjar. A torch-lit parade of fascinating creatures: The ancient Icelandic ogress Grýla and her less than lovely husband and sons, as well as elves, fairies, demons and trolls join the locals at a huge bonfire and splendid fireworks.

Sailor's daySailors' Day, although a national day of festivities, has always been particularly dear to the hearts of the people of Vestmannaeyjar, not surprisingly so, considering their history. Festivities are held on the first weekend of June with a full programme on both Saturday and Sunday, emphasising seamanship connected sports as well as various entertainment for the general public.

17th JuneIceland´s national holiday. This day was for a long time not given as prominent a place in Vestmannaeyjar as on the mainland. The reason presumably was their own national holiday in August, a considerably more important event in islanders' minds. During recent years, however, Iceland's national holiday has been shown the respect it is due with a parade and outdoor festivities.

The puffling time

An annual event, unique to the Westman Islands and a particular favorite time of year for the children. It is impossible to put a more precise date to it than early to mid-August, as it is determined by the pufflings themselves. Leaving their cliff nests, they fly into town attracted by the electric lights and discover a harder and considerably more complicated world than they have been used to. Everywhere, however, saviours are waiting: The local children, armed with their cardboard boxes, prepared and ready to gather the lost and totally bewildered pufflings, rescue them and take them down to the shore to release them into the sea. In recent years whole families have visited Heimaey to take part in the puffling adventure, a unique event, full of joy.