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Verslunarmannahelgi is getting underway

30.07.2021 - 16:32
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Ágúst Ólafsson - RÚV
The weekend leading into the first Monday of August is called Verslunarmannahelgi (Tradesmen’s weekend) in Icelandic. It is the final public holiday before Christmas and is traditionally the country’s biggest travel weekend of the year. Despite assembly limits that have cancelled nearly all festivals, this weekend is nevertheless going to see huge numbers of Icelanders hit the open road.

The weekend started with a broken-down lorry and long delays in the Hvalfjarðargöng road tunnel early on Friday afternoon, but the traffic soon started to move again once the truck had been cleared. 

At the time of writing, campsites are already filling up and some hotels are fully booked. Verslunarmannahelgi is, on the other hand, traditionally the quietest weekend of the year in the capital city.

The famous Þjóðhátíð festival on the Vestmannaeyjar islands has been cancelled, but police there are expecting roughly half the expected guests to come anyway—such is the islands’ connection to this particular weekend in the minds of people across the country. The good weather forecast is another reason the police there have decided to put three-times more officers on duty than a normal weekend. 

Likewise, Akureyri’s Ein með öllu festival has been cancelled, but organisers say there will still be several events and a good, festive atmosphere in North Iceland’s biggest town. Ein með öllu (One with everything) is a reference to an Icelandic hot dog with all the various sauces and toppings. This year’s event is therefore jokingly being referred to as Ein með ýmsu (One with various things). The festival organiser says he is thankful this year’s event was cancelled with more notice than last year. 

With a good weather forecast and Europe’s second-largest island at their disposal, the 200-person assembly limit and lack of festivals will not dampen people’s thirst to get away from home for a few days and relax. 

Originally a holiday intended to give shopkeepers and others in the service industry a rare and welcome break, Verslunarmannahelgi has since grown into a major national event that ironically brings bumper business to shops, restaurants, and other service businesses around the country; preventing staff from taking the weekend off. Luckily, however, times have changed and staff have the legal right to far more holiday than just this one long weekend per year. 

Whatever your plans are this weekend, have fun and stay safe! 

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