‘It’s great to see’: Icelandic Festival returns to full glory

Vikings are taking over the streets of Gimli, Man. as the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba hosts its fully in-person first event since the pandemic.

The festival was held virtually in 2020 and through a hybrid model in 2021.

This year, the festival is back to full capacity — including the Viking Village, vendors and a special strongman competition featuring legendary Icelander Magnús Ver Magnússon, four-time World’s Strongest Man.

“I’ve been coming to this festival for many, many, many, many years and missed it a lot when it wasn’t here for the last couple of years, so it’s been great,” said Julia Ewanchuk, who was enjoying the festival on Sunday.

“It’s great to see the festival happening again and, you know, just have that little summer event,” said Lexi Violi, who was also there on Sunday, “I really missed it.”

A sentiment echoed by festival organizers.

“It’s been great. You could just feel the spirit of Iceland here in Gimli, which of course is our theme this year,” said Thora Palson, manager of the Icelandic Festival.

The festival brings many people to the Town of Gimli.

Mayor Lynn Greenberg said the temporary boost in business is great, but the festival has many longer-term benefits as well.

“There’s a lot of people to our community, and some people come back for other visits, and sometimes they end up purchasing property here and becoming residents,” noted Greenberg.

On top of economic gains, the Icelandic Festival is happy to be back and sharing Icelandic culture with the masses.

“[Gimli] is sort of the first establishment of Icelandic culture outside of Iceland, so it’s really important for us to share that tradition and just enrich the Canadian experience by sharing our culture,” said Palson.

The event runs from July 30-Aug. 1.

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