Iceland: Land of Shocking Beauty and Surprising Contrast

Pack your bags, and get ready to visit a verdant green land, with rugged mountains, hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, beautiful waterfalls, friendly people, delectable food and a rich culture filled with art, architecture, and music. Become inspired by Iceland. This island, the least densely populated country in Europe, is slightly larger than Scotland  or Ireland and boasts some of the most intriguing natural and created works of art in the world.

The natural arts in Iceland encompass the gamut from snowy glaciers to volcanoes; ice-blue hot springs, like the famed Blue Lagoon; unique basalt formations; stunning mountainous vistas; the curtains of lights of the aurora borealis; and, thunderous waterfalls like Gullfoss. These unveil a breathtaking backdrop for the amazing created arts.

Consider the brand new Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Center. This contemporary building sits by the harbor in Reykjavik, its grand glass structure mirroring the combined majesty of the surrounding sea, sky and city in its reflective geometric designs. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is home here while musicians, such as Björk, Messoforte, and Kristinn Sigmundsson, frequent the four exquisite halls.

More into the visual arts? Grab a famous hotdog made of lamb before enjoying a relaxing walk through the city. Near the City Hall, beside the intimate Tjörnin pond, visit the National Gallery of Iceland to view one of the many changing exhibits. The Einar Jónsson Museum, named for Iceland’s first sculptor, seeks to share his passion with other respecters of the art.

Starting this month, the annual Reykjavik Arts Festival gets underway. Started in 1970, this celebration of the arts is one of Northern Europe’s most respected festivals with the purpose to promote both Icelandic and international culture by offering a wide range of activities such as theater performances, dance, opera, concerts and exhibitions. Want to experience true Icelandic culture? Ten poets and writers will be welcoming visitors into their homes to share in a reading of their work. Many sessions will be held in the Icelandic language with three readings performed in German.   On June 3rd, treat yourself to a concert by Buika, one of the most original Spanish artists around, as she expertly weaves jazz, flamenco, soul and blues into a tantalizing musical tapestry. Opening weekend (May 18-21) a large scale collaborative international visual arts project is birthed at many different venues throughout the city and continues throughout the festival and the summer, focusing on art from the Baltic and Nordic countries. This massive project, entitled (I)ndependent People, integrates the work of 29 artist collectives involving over 100 participants. Continue the theme of collaboration during Journey on May 18 & 19 when Iceland Dance Company, GusGus, Fillippia Elisdottir, and Reynir Lyngdal take the audience on a magnificent journey into a new world of  unexpected life occurrences through the interplay of dance, music and film.

Iceland is an exciting place and continues to stand apart in its appeal to those of all ages hoping to participate in a larger more global arts community.

Jason Holland

About the Author

For seven years, Jason has been planning personal adventures all over the world to places like Japan, Australia, French Polynesia, Honduras, Puerto Rico and Iceland. In early 2009, Jason and his wife, Sandy, started Travel Simplicity to share their passion for travel with others and have been planning professionally as personal travel advisors. With a continual focus on education, Jason earned his professional CTA designation with The Travel Institute, started in 1964 to set standards of excellence for the travel community. He continually studies with local, regional, and international visitor’s bureaus to achieve additional specializations some of which encompass Peru, Thailand, the UK and more. He is an author for the Travel Simplicity travel blog and is an official travel blogger for Harrisburg Magazine.

Jason is a member of multiple national professional organizations such as ASTA, NACTA and CLIA. He is a certified Accessible Travel Advocate with the belief that everyone should be able to travel regardless of any physical difficulties a person may have. Jason is involved with the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of both the Golf Committee and Women in Business Roundtable Committee. Jason is a member of the Harrisburg and York Young Professionals group.

Jason loves spending time with friends, playing competitive volleyball, sitting around his fire table with a glass of wine or beer, watching movies, meeting new people, enjoying a great meal, and of course, traveling to see the world and experience what this beautiful place has to offer.