Pingdom Check
10/17/2018 | 12:00 AM

Iceland Airwaves: The biggest moments over 20 years

It’s hard to believe that Iceland Airwaves has grown from one show in an airplane hangar to taking over every nook and cranny in downtown Reykjavík. These photos celebrate some iconic moments from Airwaves over the years. We look forward to seeing you this November 7–10 and hope you make some fantastic discoveries of your own.

2004 Eivør 

Eivør first visited Airwaves way back in 2004, and some 14 years later she makes a welcome return for 2018. In the time since, she’s become a creative figurehead in the Faroese music scene, touring all over the world. Reykjavík was her adopted home for a short while and she’s well loved by Icelanders and international fans alike. Her music continues to blend traditional Faroese balladry with left-field pop and more and more people take notice.

Photo by Billi.

Musician Eivor pictured performing on a stage with pink lighting behind

2008 Florence and the Machine 

Airwaves has always been proud of being ahead of the curve, and in 2008 Florence and the Machine was beginning to ride the first waves of success onto global superstardom. Other bands that have gone on to great success worldwide after the festival include Of Monsters and Men, Kaleo and last year’s special discovery, Sigrid from Norway.

Photo by Emma Svensson.

Florence and the Machine performing on-stage with her arms spread wide in dance

2011 Björk 

Over a decade into Airwaves, Björk finally paid Airwaves a long-awaited visit, bringing the wondrous Biophilia project to the Harpa Concert Hall. Taking all sorts of instrumentation and a barefoot Icelandic female choir, the show was certainly one to remember and one of the most ambitious the festival has hosted.

Photo by Ari Magg.

bjork pictured with a bright red hair style, wearing a black and gold jacket and facing side-on to the camera in a dark room

2012 Retro Stefson 

Retro Stefson were at their creative and commercial peak around 2012, with a couple of number one singles in Iceland and a hit self-titled album. You can see how wild the crowd were for the band as Haraldur Ari crowd surfs way out into the audience. Though Retro Stefson is sadly no longer, both Unnsteinn and Logi Pedro from the band will be performing with their new projects at this year’s Airwaves.

Photo by Þorgeir Ólafsson.

a lively crowd lifts somebody up above head and allows them to crowdsurf

2014 The Flaming Lips 

After a long wait—the band formed in 1983—The Flaming Lips finally came to Iceland with a show of mad ebullience that had the crowd grinning from ear to ear in total joyous party mood. Replete with their trademark balloons, streamers and props, the show was a completely unforgettable experience.

Photo by Matthew Eisman.

The Flaming Lips performer releases a large silver balloon that reads 'F*ck Yeah Iceland' into the crowd

Travel notes

Text by Will Larnach Jones.

Images supplied by Iceland Airwaves. 

Check the official festival website for more info and the full lineup:

This article also appears in the Icelandair Stopover magazine, Fall 2018