9 terms to help you get your Viking on at the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba

Posted June 25, 2017 | Author Breanne Sewards

Once you have the pronunciation of Islendingadagurinn down pat, it’s time to start studying other terms that might come in handy at the 2018 Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, taking place from August 3 to 6 in Gimli, Manitoba. From Viking villages to sweet treats to initiation rites, here are 9 terms, words and sayings to get to know before taking a step into the Viking territory of New Iceland…


Don’t let the armor and swords fool you: Icelanders are a friendly bunch, so get used to hearing the word Velkomin, meaning ‘welcome’ in Icelandic. The word encompasses Islendingadagurinn, a celebration of Iceland and Canada as one. No matter who you are, while you are at the festival, consider yourself both Icelandic and Canadian.


This one involves a few new words, so pay attention. Getting dinged is the best way to start your Islendingadagurinn experience, because it means you get to become an honourary Icelander for the weekend. Head to the Lakeview Hotel and Resort at 3:00 pm on August 5 to get started. First, don traditional costumes and helmets. Next, eat a piece of Harðfiskur (dried fish) and wash it down with a shot of Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps). Finally, chant Islendingadagurinn three times before roaring like a true Viking would. Ding – you’re officially ready for the Icelandic Festival!

Borgs and hjeims

Do you dare enter the village of the Vikings? The Icelandic Festival’s borgs and hjeims (forts or villages) demonstrates the lifestyle of 9th and 10th century Western European nations of Danish, Norse, Swede, Finn, Anglo – Saxon, Hiberno Norse, and Dane law (Central England and Scotland), ie; the people who were collectively known as Vikings. Enter the village to meet characters of all types and to get to the know the lifestyle of the time.


Bardagi, or battle, is a handy Icelandic word to know as you enter the festival, considering the fights you might witness and encounter. Warrior training will take place from 1-5:00 pm in the village, in preparation for the coming battles. Watch Viking combat demonstrations from 3:00 to 3:45 pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday in the field by the village.

Drinking Horn

Drinking horn made by Ragnar the Trader

No fancy term for this one – it’s exactly how it sounds! And what’s more Icelandic than sipping your Thule (Icelandic beer) from a drinking horn? Craft vendors will be set up at the harbour area from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM during the Icelandic Festival, selling everything from crafts to jewelry to yes, drinking horns. The beauties pictured above are by Ragnar the Trader, who is getting ready to be in Gimli for Islendingadagurinn.


The Fjallkona (or Lady of the Mountain) is one of the most important figures in Icelandic Festival culture, acting as a personification of Iceland itself. The tradition of appointing a Fjallkona at the Icelandic Festival dates back to 1924 and remains as one of the highest honours in Manitoba’s Icelandic community. This year’s Fjallkona is Tami Schirlie (Nee Jakobson), a third generation Fjallkona who devoted much of her volunteer life to the Icelandic Festival. Schirlie will make an address during the Traditional Program on August 7 at 2:00 pm.


What would a festival be without delicious food? Amma’s Kitchen at the Gimli Park Pavilion is the place to go to try authentic Icelandic desserts such as Vínarterta, a multi-layered cake with layers of white vanilla (or shortbread) and plum jam. While you’re at it, be sure to try Piparkökur, Kleinur, and Plokkfiskur. Amma’s Kitchen is open Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Monday from noon to 4:00 pm.


While not Icelandic in origin, the game of Fris-nok has become an Icelandic Festival tradition and a favourite summer pastime by those in the Interlake. The best part? All you need is a post, an empty bottle and a Frisbee to play. The tournament kicks off on August 6 (registration at 12:00 pm, tournament at 1:00 pm).


Elves? Trolls? In Manitoba?! Gimli’s Viking statue will be lonely no more as a brand-new Viking Park is set to be unveiled on August 5 at noon during the Icelandic Festival. The garden will feature characters from Icelandic lore including boulders carved into troll-like shapes, representing the nocturnal creatures that would turn to stone if caught in the sun. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for huldufólk (elves in Icelandic folk belief) and their tiny garden homes.

About The Author

Hey! I'm Breanne, Editorial Content Specialist for Travel Manitoba. First to jump in the lake and last to make it down the River Trail. Lover of croissants, cats, and croissant-shaped cats. Got a story idea? Email me at bsewards@travelmanitoba.com.

Editorial Content Specialist