Iceland’s winter LGBT festival commences today, with a program full of exciting events.
Iceland is definitely not like the other girls: not content with holding its Pride Parade in August while almost every other country in the world marches in June, Iceland has actually another Pride event in winter – although much more intimate than its summer counterpart. Starting today, February 13, Rainbow Reykjavik Winter Pride (RRWP) will safely take its guests through the incoming storm and all over Reykjavik and the Golden Circle for 3 days of the gayest tours and events.
Hannes Pálsson, one of the owners of Pink Iceland, the travel company behind RRWP and many other LGBT+ events in the capital city, tells us more about the upcoming festivities.
For those of us who live in a cave: what’s RRWP?
“When Pink Iceland had just been founded, we decided that we wanted to create a small winter pride festival in Iceland during the winter months. We just thought, Iceland has ‘Ice’ in its name so why not promote a winter activity, both to spread guests throughout the year and also provide the local community with some much-needed fun and glamour during the winter months.”
“We rebranded the festival last year and made a new website and we think this year’s festival will probably be the best so far.”
How big is it? Where do the participants come from?
“All in all we’ve had a few hundred people join the festival throughout the years with participants from every continent, except Antarctica. Many of our guests have come to 2 or more festivals as they really like the vibe. We don’t really advertise it though so it’s never that big. This year for example we have about 20 guests joining the full program so it should be quite intimate, which is how we like it!”
What’s on the agenda this year? Any key moment we should miss under no circumstances?
“Today, Thursday we get together with the group and have a little meet and greet with everyone followed by our Queer Bingo Extravaganza this year hosted by Drag Queen Faye Knús. On Friday we take everyone on a city walk after which guests visit the Blue Lagoon. On Friday night we then all hang out together at dinner and go to Gaukurinn for a Drag-Súgur show and then dancing at Kiki Queer Bar. On Saturday it’s time for our very own version of the Golden Circle and private pool party in Hveragerði. The tour and pool party are open to other guests to join and we encourage people who want to take part in either activity to get in touch with us. The Masquerade Ball on Saturday night is, like always, the highlight of the festival where our guests are joined by hundreds of locals at the most glamorous queer party of the season.”
What makes RRWP 2020 different from RRWP 2019?
“We always follow a similar program, the main difference this year is incorporating the Valentine’s Day show from Drag-Súgur into the festival which we are very excited about!”
Is there any tie between RRWP and Reykjavik Pride?
“No, there is no connection between the two. Reykjavik Pride in August is a much bigger event planned by the Reykjavik Pride Committee whereas our Winter Pride event is small and organized by us here at Pink Iceland.”
The word Pride being heavily connoted, is RRWP connected to LGBT+ activism in any way?
“Not in any other sense than it being a passion project, raising visibility and awareness and injecting some fun into the community every year despite it not being profitable. If we ever got investors or other stakeholders, they would probably tell us to stop putting it on. At our biggest event, the Masquerade Ball, all proceeds from the coat check go to a local queer organization or the community. Beneficiaries have included Trans Iceland, Samtökin 78, Styrmir Sports Club and this year it will be the BDSM organization. The amount raised is usually around 100.000 ISK. Also, if we ever turn a profit from the ball that will go straight back into the community.”
Who’s behind RRWP?
“These days it’s just Pink Iceland who is behind the festival but it’s worth noting and thanking Icelandair, Icelandair Hotels, the city of Reykjavik and Reykjavik Excursions for their support when we first launched the festival.”
How did Pink Iceland, primarily known as a tour operator, come to try and boost Iceland’s LGBT+ scene with RRWP, Queer Fridays Pop-Up Hygge, Pink Parties and so on?
“As an unapologetically queer travel company and tour operator we’ve always felt it was our duty to raise Iceland’s profile as an LGBTQ+ friendly destination. As previously mentioned, we also like to give something back to the community by hosting our Pink Parties and while currently on hiatus we’ve tried to highlight queer artists with half hour concerts at our office every other Friday during the peak season. These are not entirely selfless acts; we of course hope to one day make some profit from the Rainbow Reykjavik Festival and the Masquerade Ball, with proceeds from the latter going back into the community.”
It’s been 9 years since the first edition of RRWP: how far have you come?
“The festival has become like an old friend we see once a year. We love hosting it, we love meeting new people, we love to party at the Masquerade Ball. We’ve evolved through the years and changed a few things to make sure our guests’ experience is as good as it possibly can be. We rebranded the festival last year and made a new website and we think this year’s festival will probably be the best so far. We intend to build on this moving forward.”
What’s your ambition for RRWP in the future?
“Now that we have the recipe just right, we’d like to grow the festival, but not too quickly. Maybe by about 20 people a year until we’re at a place where we’re certain that everyone can enjoy the intimate and personal experience that we want people to have at Rainbow Reykjavik.”
So make sure to check it out! Tickets are still available here.