The dos and the don’ts of Gimli’s Icelandic Festival

Posted August 07, 2018 | Author Reba Lewis

Gimli is the sort of place that people love to flock to during the summertime, especially on the weekends.

But if you’re looking to experience Gimli for a true taste of its Icelandic culture, then Icelandic Fest is undoubtedly the best time to go. And while the curtain on this year’s festival has already been called (this year’s Icelandic Festival ran from August 3 to 6), there’s always next year. In the meantime, here are some tips on what you should and should not at Islendingadagurinn.

Do…become an honorary Icelander

For those who secretly wish they could be a Viking, Icelandic Fest makes the dream come true. For the entire weekend of the festival, you can become an honorary Icelander and all you have to do is Get Dinged! All it takes to get dinged and gain this well-appointed status are these five things:

1. Put on the traditional Viking garb, which includes a helmet

2. Eat a piece of dried fish called Harðfiskur

3. Have a shot of Brennivín, also known as Icelandic schnapps

4. Say the word Islendingadagurinn as fast as you can three times

5. And the best of the tests? Prove you deserve the bestowed honour by roaring like a true Viking

And kids never get left out of the fun as substitute tasks are created for age-appropriateness.

Don’t…bite your tongue trying to say ‘Islendingadagurinn’

In your quest for honorary Icelander status, best practice saying Islendingadagurinn in the mirror, with friends and even with your pets before the true test begins.

Do…cheer on your favourite Islendingadunk combatant

The Gimli Harbour gets busy for this one! Islendingadunk definitely knows how to draw the crowds and the cackles. As a large, slippery, soapy pole is suspended over the harbour, two combatants slide on facing each other. The first to knock his or her opponent into the water, using the black sack provided for the challenge, wins.

Don’t…fall in while cheering said Islendingadunk combatant

Everyone wants the perfect vantage point for Islendingadunk and many times that means sitting on the edge of the harbour. Whatever you do, don’t get so excited cheering or laughing that you fall in with one of the combatants!

Do…explore the Viking Village

The queues in to the Viking Village are long, but they flow and soon enough, you’ll feel like you’re entering a medieval world where Vikings did everything masterfully by hand and craftily with primitive tools. Stop by as many of the tents as you can, as each one has something different to offer; from cooking, to ironwork, to garment making, to combat, Viking Village will teach you the ways of the Viking to go along with your newly minted Viking status. And speaking of combat, don’t miss the chance to see the Viking battle that’s coloured with comedy.

Don’t…touch the Viking fires

“The fires are real!” As you enter Viking Village, you will hear the foreboding warnings of the Vikings who stand guard at the gates. Don’t even bother letting your curiosity get the best of you. Just take the word of the Vikings!

Do…shop and chat with the festival vendors

Tonnes of vendors line the streets of Gimli during Icelandic Fest and you’d be sorely disappointed if you didn’t at least stop by a few of them. From honey to jewelry to Viking-styled bags and the like, you’re likely to find a brand new treasure to take home with you.

Don’t...leave without a slice of Vinarterta cake

And whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, leave this festival without a slice of Vinarterta, a traditional Icelandic multilayered cake made up of prunes and other yummy things in-between.

Do…dine at the local eateries

Visiting Gimli without stopping by one of the local diners is almost as pagan as the Vikings of old. And really, why would you want to incur the wrath of your tummy by denying it a sumptuous meal, especially when there are so many great options to choose from? So by all means, dine in and discover just how good the grub is in Gimli.

Don’t...leave Gimli without a food truck stop

And of course, this is a festival and festivals mean food trucks galore. Take your pick of the many food trucks, or stop by a few and treat your taste buds to what life at a festival is all about.


Icelandic Festival takes place in early August every year in Gimli. From the sandcastle contest, to the volleyball on the lake, to the wonder shows and midway rides in Gimli Park, there is something that will thrill every member of your family.

Mark your calendars!

Gimli's Icelandic Fest 2019 will take place from August 2 to 5.

Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by partner Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, who did not review or approve this story.

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