Oh, Iceland. When I went in late June for the fledgling Secret Solstice Festival (the first was held in 2014) it was my fourth trip to the tiny island nation of 350,000 in the North Atlantic. It won’t be my last. You see, I’m an unabashed Iceland fetishist. Seriously, just ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you how borderline obnoxious I am about Iceland. Constantly spamming their Instagram feeds with photos from there, on top of imploring them — and others, including random people I meet within minutes of meeting them — that they should really, really go to Iceland.
“If you’re traveling to Europe, fly Icelandair because they allow you to do a stopover in Iceland for up to seven days,” I’m known to tell people. “Just carve out like 48 hours during your trip and check it out. I swear, there’s no place like it on Earth. It’s like being on another planet. You can thank me later.”
I know something about this. It’s how I first became hooked on Iceland, how the wee little nation adorned with freakishly breathtaking scenery first set its hooks in me. I was flying to Paris for a friend’s wedding and right around the time I was going to book my ticket and I read something about the stopover thing. It didn’t hurt that Icelandair’s fares to Europe are usually among the cheapest of any airline flying in and out of the U.S. So I took the plunge and booked a stopover that was to last almost exactly 48 hours — my flight in to Reykjavik landed at around 7am on a Saturday morning and my departing flight to Paris left at around 7am on Monday morning. Little did I know that I would barely sleep at all during those 48 hours. And it wasn’t because I was on any kind of drug-fueled bender or something. Rather, I just couldn’t get enough of Iceland and I wanted to use every moment I had available to me to take it in. I caught up on sleep when I got to Paris, which is saying something on its own. Obviously, 48 hours was not going to be enough, so I’d returned a couple of times after.
But this Iceland trip I took in June — man, this may have been the best one of all.
Secret Solstice takes place — as you might have guessed — during Iceland’s summer solstice. This year’s solstice featured 96 hours of straight daylight, and the whole experience was bizarre and disorienting in the best possible ways. You really haven’t lived until you’ve gotten up at 2 am to go to the bathroom and the sun is shining in through your window and drunken Icelanders are kicking a soccer ball around on the street outside. I’d long wanted to experience this extreme daylight event (I’d already experienced nearly 24 hours of straight darkness in Iceland a couple of years back during the winter) and centering a music festival around it in one of the world’s most unique places is a minor stroke of genius on behalf of the festival’s founder. (Side note: If prolonged daylight isn’t your thing, the Iceland Airwaves Festival coming up in November is a great time to go as well.)
That all said, here are some thoughts/feelings I’d like to share about Secret Solstice, and about Iceland, arguably my favorite place on the planet.