Islendingadaguirinn sounds rather otherworldly, but in fact is very much of this world, or should I say, of the Interlake in Manitoba. I like to show off what Winnipeg and Manitoba have to offer, like Lower Fort Garry and Ballet in the Park– although we may not have the drama of the mountains or the ocean, we are beautiful in our own calm way and we know how to enjoy our time together! (Especially when the weather doesn’t call for eighteen layers of clothing…) Islendingadaguirinn is an annual tradition for us here in Manitoba, and this August long weekend marked the 126th anniversary of the festival. Time to channel your inner Viking!
For anyone who isn’t entirely familiar with rural Manitoba, we have a large lake here- Lake Winnipeg. Covering over 24,000km (or almost 9,500 miles for my American readers), the lake is home to countless communities and has been for well over a century. The reason that Gimli is such a busy and well-known town for it’s relatively tiny size (5,000 people in the winter, 10,000 in the summer) is because it is the largest settlement of Icelanders outside of Iceland itself. Icelandic immigrants settled here in 1875, and the town was incorporated shortly after the turn of the century.
Islendingadaguirinn celebrates Vikings, Iceland, and everything that Gimli has come from! Because our cottage is nearby, I’ve gone every year since I can remember. The highlight is certainly the Viking village- reenactors from all over North America gather to live in a small camp near the harbour for the August long weekend, and give all of us a glimpse into what life would have been like for Vikings back in the day. It’s completely free to see, and they even have battle demonstrations that happen throughout the weekend! It’s a pretty popular festival that often sees the President of Iceland visit, as well as the Icelandic ambassador to Canada. We even had Jonathan Rhys Davies, aka Gimli from LOTR, make an appearance one year!
We took the dogs to see everything, and they were the most popular people there. (Yes, they are people.) I would say that probably ninety percent or more of the reenactors made their way to the doggos to give pets and love. Turns out that several of the Vikings have huskies and sled dogs of their own, and seeing Loki, Thor, and Thorn was a nice way to remember their dogs at home for the weekend! All three are sucks for belly rubs and scratches at the base of their tail, and they were not disappointed…
After the Vikings had their fill of three huskies stealing all of the attention we took the dogs quickly down the sea wall in Gimli and then to Winnipeg Beach to get some time in the water. Thor, who is part Lab, would have NO part of it all, refusing to put so much as a toe into the water. However, Loki had an awesome time as usual and took the opportunity to drink more lake water than his body should be able to hold. Thorn and Loki played together a bit, but Thorn mostly stood in the water looking at us all. It’s funny how much some dogs love the water and other dogs hate it. Still, a wonderful day out for the dogs!
Two Viking puppers, just living that Viking life!
What is your favourite local festival to attend?