Icelandic festival celebrates 85 years in Gimli, 127 years in Manitoba
The free event also offers woodworking, leather crafting and other provides an opportunity for people to learn about traditional Icelandic culture. (File image)
Marta Czurylowicz, CTV Winnipeg
Published Saturday, July 30, 2016 1:06PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, July 30, 2016 1:14PM CST
The world’s second-largest Icelandic population calls Manitoba home and every summer, thousands gather in Gimli to celebrate in an Icelandic festival known as Islendingadagurinn.
This year crowds are expected to reach about 50,000 people.
Chris Brown, the executive director of Islendingadagurinn, said 40,000 people had already dropped by on Saturday afternoon.
“There’s no way to gauge how many people we’ve got other than these unscientific methods since we don’t ticket people. Everything is free,” said Brown, with a chuckle.
Their unconventional way of measuring is seeing how many streets have cars parked bumper to bumper.
“Looks to me to be extremely busy in town,” said Brown. “There are 80 to 100 Vikings from around the world.”
Islendingadagurinn features a traditional Viking village where dozens of reenactors depict typical scenes from Viking culture throughout the centuries.
He said every day at 3 p.m., there is a huge battle where the Vinland Vikings fight with swords and other weapons.
“They train all year for this. This is their Olympics,” he said.
The free event also offers woodworking, leather crafting and other provides an opportunity for people to learn about traditional Icelandic culture.
The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba was originally held in Winnipeg in 1890, marking 127 years of the festival.
In 1932, the festival moved to Gimli, where it has been held every August long weekend since.
“The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba "Islendingadagurinn" as far as we have been able to determine, is the second oldest continuous ethnic festival in North America,” the festival’s website said. “The first Icelandic festival in North America was held in Milwaukee in 1874.”
For more information, including event times, head to the festival's website.