February may be one of the coldest months of the year in Iceland, but the LGBT travel company Pink Iceland hopes to warm things up with their winter pride festival.
Pink Iceland’s seventh annual Rainbow Reykjavík festival will take place from February 8-11, with an exciting program that includes social events in the city, tours outside the city, the legendary Pink Masquerade Ball at Iðnó Theatre on February 10, and much more.
Pink Iceland’s co-owner Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange says she’s looking forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world for the festival.
“We have around 50 guests signed up for the Rainbow Reykjavík package and then we have guests taking part in some of the activities and events. The Pink Masquerade Party being the most popular event with around 350 local and international guests,” she says, when asked how many guests are expected to attend the festival this year.
“Rainbow Reykjavík is no typical winter pride with six packs and sun! The focus is more on waterfalls, erupting geysers, tectonic plates, and good warm winter clothing.”
How have people generally responded to visiting Iceland for a pride festival in the winter?
“It’s been a life-changing experience for many people since Rainbow Reykjavík is no typical winter pride with six packs and sun! The focus is more on waterfalls, erupting geysers, tectonic plates, and good warm winter clothing. We even cover up for the queerest party of the season, the annual Pink Masquerade Party, where participants and locals alike dress up in their finest, adorned with masquerade masks. Most of our guests throughout the years have not necessarily known what to expect but I’m glad to say that they’ve been super happy and their experience has exceeded their expectations.”
What distinguishes Rainbow Reykjavík from other queer-oriented events in Iceland, such as Reykjavik Pride or Bears on Ice?
“Firstly — the season! February is not a very busy month when it comes to queer events in Northern Europe and it’s in during some of the darkest days in Iceland, at a time when we need some colours to brighten up our lives.
Secondly — this is a much smaller event than both Bears on Ice and Pride and guests always mention how personal it feels.
Thirdly, the season again — our tours and sights take on a very different appearance and experience in winter than they do in summer!”
This will be Rainbow Reykjavík’s seventh year. Why did Pink Iceland decide to start hosting a winter pride festival?
“From the very first days of Pink Iceland we knew we wanted to create a winter event. After all, we live in a country called Iceland, but back then most of the tourism happened during the summer, which didn’t make much sense to us. We also wanted to create an event where local and international guests could meet, not only on the dance floor but also while hiking, or over a cup of coffee, or over Queer Bingo, which is a new addition to this year’s festival!”
What are some highlights from past years of Rainbow Reykjavík?
“When 80-year-old Carol joined the festival after coming out of the closet shortly before her trip. Her daughter gave her the trip as a coming out-birthday present!
A Eurovision party at Harpa with Iceland’s most famous Eurovision stars all gathered in one place.
The then queer-friendly mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, surprised us with a visit during one of our lunches!
That time when we didn’t think we would make it back to the city due to a snowstorm but it then turned out to be a very adventurous and fun day!”
How have annual events such as Rainbow Reykjavík impacted the amount of queer tourists who visit Iceland?
“We think the impact is much more than can be measured in the number of guests participating in Rainbow Reykjavik. Since our first festival in 2012 we’ve had numerous guests returning many times to Iceland and some of them more than 10 times in these six years! In a way, we’re creating “friends of Iceland” who not only travel to the country regularly but also buy Icelandic music, design and products and visit friends they’ve made. We like to refer to them as Pink Iceland ambassadors.”
There are a whole range of events at this year’s festival, from dinners in the city to tours around the country. How can people get involved?
“For the tours please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you book the tour you are interested in. For the locals, that’s most often the Blue Lagoon tour. We encourage Icelanders to take part — it can be a refreshing feeling to become a tourist in your home country for a weekend, even for the Golden Circle!
“Since our first festival … we’ve had numerous guests returning many times to Iceland.”
The evening events hosted at Kiki Queer bar are open to all and all you have to do is simply show up. The most popular event is the Pink Masquerade Party and we strongly encourage you to visit Pink Iceland’s website and get your ticket pre-sale as this event has been known to sell out.”
The official Rainbow Reykjavík program runs from February 8-11, although Pink Iceland is offering some events as early as February 6. For a full schedule of events visit www.rainbowreykjavik.is.