Posted by: neilh10 | March 13, 2011

The worlds remotest rock festival!

One of the main misconceptions people have about the Westfjords is that, because of its geography, the place must somehow be full of narrow minded rednecks and hillbillies.

Yep, its true that it is a basically a town of 4000 people, at the end of a very long road. But if you thought that the mountains that surround the villages has somehow stifled peoples creativity, you would be wrong.

Instead, Isafjordur (the main urban centre), and the villages that surround it, are in contrast one of Icelands most culturally diverse regions. This can be witnessed first hand, in its music scene.

And, every easter, it is home to one of the worlds most interesting music festivals: Aldrei for eg sudur(in Icelandic) (translation: I never went south).

Completely free, with discounted beer, one music fanzine described it as ‘a direct antithesis and complete remedy for anyone bored the O2 Wireless styled events where rosters are shared and everything is franchised’.

The festival was started up several years ago by Mugison, a local musician who lives in nearby Sudavik, who has gone on to become one of Icelands most famous artists.

Its basically one massive party, of the kind that Iceland is famous for. But the great thing about this party is that this does not have any of the snobbishness (and expense) of the annual Iceland Airwaves festival, in Reykjavik.As the bassist of one one of my favourite Icelandic bands admitted, in a slightly drunken conversation last year, ‘Aldrei for eg Suour is for the farmers. Reykavik Airwaves is for the snobs’.

Personally, if you like Icelandic music as much as I do, both festivals have their attractions. But, from an outsiders perspective, I never went south has a particular attraction, and frankly, that is its bizarreness. The idea of converting a cement factory in to a music festival, where anyone, no matter how famous, can play but for 20 minutes only, in (what seems to outsiders like) the middle of nowhere, and can then go on to become so legendary that the economist lifestyle supplement dispatch a journalist to cover it… It is something that could only happen in Iceland.

This year, the festival takes place over the easter weekend (22nd, 23rd April 2011). The apartment is not yet booked that weekend, and sadly I cant make it out myself this year, so it could well be a good opportunity to make a trip up to the Westfjords.

Flights from London to Iceland around the easter weekend are still below the £200 mark (Icelandair – April 19th – 29th). And, it is possible to rent a car for as little as £25 per day – or alternatively you could fly from Reykjavik to Isafjordur from 39 euros each way – and so it is actually possible to visit the festival for little more than the cost of admission to a dull english ‘indie’ festival, together with its overpriced beer and food stands.

What are you waiting for!

Update 17/03
West tours, the main travel agency in Isafjordur, are also offering a special daytrip over to the abandoned peninsula of Hornstrandir, on the 22nd April – at the same time as the festival.

This is your only chance to visit the abandoned village of Hesteyri outside the summer season, and is all the more reason to visit over the easter weekend. The tour costs 7300 kr. More info HERE

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