Secret Solstice 2017

Reykjavík Secret Solstice 2017

 

Growing Secret Solstice

Nestled in the heart of Reykjavík is the lush Laugardalur valley. The residents maintain that it’s the city’s most temperate neighbourhood (although the residents in every neighbourhood in Reykjavík will claim the same about theirs) and it has long been the centre of outdoor activity and sports. Four years ago, Laugardalur took on a new role as the site of Iceland’s most ambitious music festival, Secret Solstice.  The festival has grown in size and popularity and this year saw over 20.000 guests visiting the festival site to hear some amazing bands play in the Midnight Sun.

 

 

Secret Solstice takes place on five stages all named after places and characters from the Norse mythology. There’s the main stage, Valhöll, the biggest stage ever set up in Iceland, the smaller ones, Gimli, Askur and Fenrir and then the after hours, an indoors rave venue, aptly named Hel. The festival has a great variety of bars and food trucks, in fact one could spend more than four days there just sampling all the delicious food on offer. They have everything from lobster soup to juicy burgers and delicious craft beers and cocktails to wash it down with. Festival style and people watching is always fun and Secret Solstice gives Coachella a run for its money in that respect. Although festival goers in Iceland are less about shorts and bikini tops and more into what can be dubbed “rainwear chic” there is still plenty of glitter and face paint going around. Who says you can’t look cool and keep warm at the same time?

 festival style

 

Magical endless daylight

There is something magical about a music festival where it never gets dark. You tend to lose track of time in the endless daylight and the extra energy you get from the long days means that you can go on dancing for as long as your feet will carry you. And the bands are stripped of some of the mystique that comes with playing in the dark with a full light show, making them feel closer, more intimate to the audience.

 

What's special about Secret Solstice?

But that’s just one of the things that makes Secret Solstice special. They’re known for their amazing side events, where musicians play inside glaciers, volcanoes and lava tunnels, and in 2016 they launched their kid’s festival Kátt á Solstice (Fun at Solstice) with events catered specially to the kids ranging from face-painting to beatboxing and skateboarding lessons. But children aren’t confined to the kid’s area. During the day parents are encouraged to bring their children along and children under ten get free admission. This lends the festival area a family vibe during the day that fits in with the overall chilled out vibe of the festival.

 

Music Festival Baby

 

Nowhere was this family vibe more apparent than during headliner’s Foo Fighters gig on the Friday night. After playing a mix of new songs and their old classics, singer Dave Grohl brought his eight year old daughter Harper on stage to play the drums for two songs. She did great, which is not surprising when your teacher is one of the best drummers in the world, and the audience went wild.

 

Foo Fighters

 

Bring both sunglasses and umbrellas

Saturday was Iceland’s Independence Day, a day notorious for less than perfect weather. And true to form the day was a perplexing blend of sun and torrential rain. Festival goers took this in stride, swapping out their sunglasses for umbrellas and back again like seasoned pros. By the time the eagerly anticipated The Prodigy took the stage the crowd was drenched. Perhaps feeling the need to warm things up a bit the band quickly launched into their 90’s classic Firestarter and after that there was no turning back.

Hip hop artists from all over the world were prominent this year. The Icelandic hip hop scene was well represented by the majority of hip hop artist working in the country today, led by the charismatic Emmsjé Gauti who dominated the Valhalla stage on the Sunday. Legends Roots Manuva, Big Sean and Rick Ross unsurprisingly drew big crowds.    

 

Rick Ross Secret Solstice

 

It’s safe to say that Secret Solstice is a unique experience in the mystical environment of the little island by the arctic circle.

 

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