Spring arrives quietly in Iceland. Sometimes a little later than the locals would like. But suddenly during this time the day becomes longer than the night and somehow the snowstorms are gone, or are at least less frequent. This is also a season of rainbows. The spring can often be a bit wet and the sun climbs the sky at a angle perfect to create the rainbow bridge Bifrost which the vikings believed to be the path to Valhalla. Springtime in Iceland is also when the locals anticipate the dreaded Easter Cold (Paskahret) a proverbial snowstorm which seems to to hit the country every year around Easter, leaving it covered in snow. And this is also the time of year that the Icelanders celebrate the first day of summer.
And it is a public holiday in Iceland!
Often this day is celebrated in a mixture of snow, rain, wind and maybe a little bit of sunshine. The folklore dictates that if the winter and the summer freeze together (meaning subzero temperatures the night before) then there will be a good summer. Also, it customary to give children their summer gift on the first day of summer, often a toy that can be played with outside. Indeed folklore in Iceland can be baffling to say the least. And it is worth remembering that it is an ancient cocktail of celtic and scandinavian storytelling. Check it out at any Reykjavik bookshop or see what the internet comes up with.
This is the time of year that Iceland’s nature really explodes with activity. Tiny arctic flowers break from the frozen ground and stretch towards the warmth of the sun. Humpback whales start basking around in fjords and bays. Birds arrive from distant places to nest in Iceland. The distinct a-aa of puffins starts to sound from grassy cliffs and the eider ducks line their nests with warm soft doun while the arctic tern takes a breather after flying all the from Antarctica. Whales are plentiful in Icelandic waters feeding from the rich bounty of the North Atlantic. Reykjavik and Akureyri are good places to go whale watching and on any given day there might be a chance to see dolphins, killer whales, minke whales, humpbacks and even bigger ones all the way up to the majestic gentle giant Blue Whale breaking the surface sending ripples glistening in the midnight sun.
In May the days really start growing longer and brighter and suddenly the darkness of winter is nothing but a distant memory. Everything is illuminated and rainbows decorate the spray above the great waterfalls of Iceland, Gullfoss, Skogarfoss, Dettifoss, Godafoss all crowned in colours. Seeing the sunlight reflect in the steam from hot springs or off the iceflows of Langjokull and Vatnajokull at midnight is true vision of otherworldly beauty. This is a wonderful time of the year in Iceland when poets go mad, lovers don’t sleep and the party goes on forever.