As the Niceland Seafood brand highlights, fresh fish runs deep within the Icelandic community. Every year on the second weekend of August “Fiskidagurinn Mikli,” which translates to “The Mighty Fish Day,” is celebrated in Dalvík, the main town in Dalvíkurbyggð. The relatively small town, with a year round population of about 1,400 people, hosted over 40,000 people at this years’ festival, and we are going to tell you all about it!
What is a Mighty Fish Festival?
The festival is a celebration of all things fish! Dalvík is a town that is economically powered solely by the fishing industry. They have fisheries, processing plants and packing houses. The fishermen go to sea and many of the wives or significant others work in the processing plants. It has gone on like this for generations, tradition and heritage, knowledge that is shared during this memorable weekend. On the first day of the festival, the festival is set by all the kindergarteners in the town singing songs. Everyone in attendance forms a “vináttukeðja” or a “friendship chain,” and the opening ceremony ends with a giant group hug to set the tone for the rest of the festivities. SO NICE!
During the Mighty Fish Festival the whole town is transformed into a street-food heaven. Every household offers “their” home-made fish soup. Guests can walk from house to house, or yard to yard, tasting all the different variations of fish soup, free of charge. This way everyone can chat, get to know the tradition of each home and exchange recipes. “The atmosphere during the fish soup night is delightful, you can almost touch the coziness. The day after is the official fish day, and we have dozens of menu items for every guest to taste along with a star studded concert in the evening. This is all free of charge, the best things in life are free! Bubbi Morthens was a surprise guest and finished the show of with an unbelievable set.” Júlíus Júlíusson.
Every item on the menu uses fish as it´s main protein, the secret is that behind every menu item, there is a story. Every fish is fresh and prepared with hands that have been taught by years even decades of tradition. This rich cultural fabric has drawn such extraordinary attention, because with amazing skill comes curiosity, and every Icelandic person longs to be a part of it.
At this moment Dalvík is the center of Iceland, booming with creativity and heritage.
Over the last 16 years Skarphéðinn Árnason has been an important part in teaching the future generations about the sea. He has developed a very broad educational display of every species of fish that is caught off the coast of Iceland. His team have spent most of the year preserving the fish that are now carefully displayed for the audience to understand, see, and explore. The sea is to many a mystery, it is important to understand our resources in order to protect them and treat them with respect. To optimise these educational moments, marine biologists are on sight and are able answer every question the curious guests might have.
A Family Festival
During the weekend all sorts of entertainment is available, most of which is family friendly, as the this is primarily a family festival. A fish drawing competition, a 50 meter long obstacle course and “Björgunarsveitin” or the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue performed demonstrations of sea rescues, just to name a few.
At the end of the evening, the star studded show Júlíus and his team put together, delights a fully packed and well-fed audience. Performers range from folk artists, hip hop artist, to our biggest pop stars, it is a who’s who of Iceland’s most popular artists. “Then for dessert there is a huge firework show!” Júlíus says proudly, “it is amazing to watch and to see all our work come to life at this festival.”
This little town was amazingly well prepared for this excessive traffic, going from their daily 1,400 people to their 40,000 guests! “When you do not sell tickets and everything is free, it is really hard to keep count of exactly how many people showed up, we like to keep things interesting!” Julíus says and chuckles. The police on the other hand was quick to estimate that there were about 40,000 people there.
“There was a traffic jam from Dalvík all the way up to Hámundastaðaháls,” which is to the east of Dalvík, because of the Mighty Fish Festival. The heavy traffic meant that the police had to reiterate the importance of being careful on roads that are not used to this kind of traffic, Iceland is so small that the police uses Facebook to communicate with the public!
On the whole, the festival went off without a glitch. Although, an all honesty, one small mishap occurred when the massive firework show ignited a small fire. However, in true Icelandic fashion and a “þetta reddast” or “It will all work out” Icelandic attitude, it didn’t even stop the ongoing concert. The fire was put out so quickly that the singer on stage never even noticed the blaze in the first place! “I am not surprised I set the place alight with my performance,” said Bubbi Morthens and laughed, “This was an incredible life experience, there must have been more than 30,000 people there in this tiny town. Unbelievable dedication.” He concluded.
“My favourite meal at the festival would have to be the fish and chips, although I cannot stop thinking about the cod pizza! Maybe that was my favourite…it was all very very good!” And with that, and a small recipe from Júlíus, we thank Dalvík and congratulate them on a wonderful weekend.