The Eyrarrósin Award
In early May, we traveled to Hvammstangi in Iceland's northwest to celebrate the local award ceremony known as Eyrarrósin.
The Eyrarrósin award is given to an outstanding cultural project in the rural areas of Iceland and has been running since 2005, inspired by Reykavík's time as a European City of Culture in 2000.
The aim of Eyrarrósin is to encourage diversity, innovation and development in arts and culture, outside of Iceland's capital. The award is a collaboration between Reykjavík Arts Festival, the Icelandic Regional Development Institute, and Icelandair, and the patron is Iceland's First Lady, Eliza Reid. We are proud sponsors of the award, which celebrates the spirit of Iceland's creativity and innovation in all corners of the country.
Eyrarrósin is now awarded every other year, with winners invited to participate in the biennial Reykjavík Arts Festival, next scheduled for 2024.
The Eyrarrósin 2023 award was given to the cultural activities at Alþýðuhúsið (the Public House) in Siglufjörður, North Iceland, led by artist Aðalheiður S Eysteinsdóttir. Aðalheiður purchased the building in 2011 with the goal of creating a workspace, home, and a playground of sorts for the arts.
In the decade or so that the building has been in operation, around 200 cultural events have taken place there. The goal of the activities is to bring culture into people's everyday lives, giving old and young the opportunity to experience the arts within their community.
Photo: Alþýðuhúsið's owner, artist Aðalheiður S Eysteinsdóttir (left), with daughter Brák Jónsdóttir (center), and Eyrarrósin's patron Eliza Reid (right). Photo credit: Hjalti Árnason.
The Eyrarrósin Encouragement Award is given to projects that are 3 years old or younger, and was granted to 3 projects in 2023:
- Hnoðri í norðri, a theater and art group for children, based in Akureyri, North Iceland
- International Westfjords Piano Festival, Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords
- Raddir úr Rangárþingi (Voices from Rangárþing), a concert series in the regional town of Hella
The winner of Eyrarrósin in 2020 was Skjaldborg, the Icelandic documentary film festival held in Patreksfjörður each May/June. The Skjaldborg cinema was the venue for the 2021 awards, and Icelandair operated a special flight to transport guests and award-winners from Reykjavík to Bíldudalur airport in the Westfjords.
Eyrarrósin 2021 was awarded to Handbendi, a professional puppetry and theater production company based in Hvammstangi in Northwest Iceland. Greta Clough, pictured below, is the artistic director and creative producer of Handbendi, which tours nationally and internationally with puppetry and theater productions for all ages. The company is also behind the HIP Festival - the Hvammstangi International Puppet Festival, held in October.
Applicants for the Eyrarrósin award can be an institution, a temporary project, a museum, or a cultural festival, and they must be in the rural areas of Iceland. Selecting the Eyrarrósin awardee is primarily based upon the impact the project has made so far on art and culture in its local community, in addition to the project's operational integrity and a clear vision for the future.
Check out the full list of past winners, and consider adding them to your Iceland itinerary or holiday calendar for a winning taste of what makes regional Iceland buzz with creativity. We have a handy map locator below.
2020: Skjaldborg, the Icelandic documentary film festival staged in Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords, in a restored cinema by the same name.
2019: List í ljósi, a winter festival that celebrates art and light in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland.
2018: Fresh Winds, a month-long art biennale held in winter in Suðurnesjabær on the Reykjanes peninsula.
2017: Eistnaflug, a four-day summer music festival heavy on metal, hardcore, punk and rock, held in Neskaupstaður in East Iceland.
2016: Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri, an exhibition space in an old herring factory north of Akureyri in North Iceland.
2015: The Freezer, a combined hostel and cultural center in Rif on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.