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Into the Midnight Sun: How to Spend a Sunlit Night in Reykjavík

Atlas Obscura’s Iceland Week is in partnership with Icelandair, who will fly you to this unreal wonderland for surprisingly cheap

article-imageReykjavík’s Hallgrímskirkja at night in July (photograph by scuba_beer/Flickr user)

Centering around the Summer Solstice this June 21 will be the Midnight Sun.

The phenomenon casts a perpetual twilight rather than an evening as the sun just barely dips below the horizon in northern regions of the world. This is especially beautiful in Iceland, and in the capital city Reykjavík people often choose to not sleep and party all night.

There’s no shortage of bars and clubs around the main street of Laugavegur, but that’s not the only way you can spend a sunlit night. While you of course have the option to stroll some of the strange and stunning architecture of the small city by the wavering light such as the futuristic Hallgrímskirkja church, you can also engage in some unique activities during the continuous sunset.  

For example, there is the Midnight Sun Run for those who like the feeling of running beneath the never-dark sky, or you can play golf at the Arctic Open. You can also take a bike tour and see the city sights at 3 am as if it was still the afternoon.

This year is the debut of the Secret Solstice, a June 20-22 festival utilizing the 72 hours of daylight to showcase bands like Massive Attack alongside festivities celebrating Norse mythology. Another option is the wonderful midnight summer solstice party at the Blue Lagoon, a spa set in the run off of an electrical power plant.

article-image Blue Lagoon (photograph by Christophe Pinard)

article-imageWhale watching in Iceland (photograph by Antonio Picascia)

Another fantastic Midnight Sun activity is whale watching at midnight with Elding tours that runs the Midnight Sun excursions to see humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, and other marine creatures from mid-June until July.

Finally, for something more traditional, head out of the city limits for the Jónsmessa festival on June 24 where families and friends construct bonfires for the saint day of St. John the Baptist. This was traditionally seen as a special time for nature, when animals could gain voices and people were encouraged to take off their clothes and roll in the grass under the surreal Midnight Sun. We encourage the continuation of such behavior. 

The midnight sun (photograph by Gudny Olafsdottir)

Atlas Obscura’s Iceland Week is in partnership with Icelandair, who will fly you to this unreal wonderland for surprisingly cheap