Iceland’s most cherished music festival Iceland Airwaves is in a “do or die” situation according to festival organizers. If the festival continues to be run at a big loss, we might soon see the last Iceland Airwaves festival.

This year’s Iceland Airwaves will be the 21st and hopefully not the last one as for the past few years, the festival has operated at a major loss.

In 2018 the deficit was 30 million krónur, which is not as bad as the previous two years when it was around 60 million. The organisers are thus looking at ways to reduce the loss even further.

Iceland Airwaves has been a yearly event since 1999, and it draws visitors from up to 50 countries to Iceland.

See also: Festivals in Iceland

 In addition to the many excellent Icelandic bands that perform at the festival each year, there are also a number of big-name international acts as well. Artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Florence and The Machine, Hot Chip, The Flaming Lips, Kraftwerk, Mac DeMarco, Mumford & Sons, and Fleet Foxes, to name but a few, have all played at Iceland Airwaves.

To keep the festival going, the promoters have decided made a few changes. For example, some lesser-known artist featured in the festival last year were unpaid “showcase artist”. This is a controversial move as artists worry that they will be taken advantage of. However, Iceland Airwaves is undeniably a great place for emerging artists to get seen.


Hatari, playing at Gamla Bíó. Photo Credit: Mummi Lú. Iceland Airwaves Facebook.

There were also fewer Off-venue concerts, and Airwaves cracked down on venues that advertised “Off-venue Airwaves concerts” without having permission to do. Official Airwaves venues have to pay a participation fee to be allowed to use the Airwaves brand.

See also: Music Venues in Iceland

 Other changes Airwaves goers might expect to see this year are fewer bands but cheaper tickets, a move the promoter hope will increase ticket sales.

If you’re one of the many people who want to see this festival live on, now is the time to book a flight to Iceland and get tickets to Airwaves. It’s a matter of life and death for the festival.