For over half a century, Reykjavík Arts Festival has nourished and advanced cultural life in Iceland. It took passion, daring and a coordinated effort to establish such an event - those same values have sustained the festival ever since, through growth and development.
Reykjavík Arts Festival was founded in 1969 by the Ministry of Culture, the City of Reykjavík and the Federation of Icelandic Artists. Icelandic artists had long hoped to see such an event in Iceland and it was eventually initiated by conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who remains its honorary president, and Ivar Eskeland, then director of the Nordic House in Reykjavík. The festival was held biennially from 1970 to 2004 and annually after that until 2016, when it became a biennial again. In the context of Reykjavík Arts Festival, hundreds of artists from all parts of the globe have performed or exhibited in Iceland. It is one of the oldest and most respected arts festivals in the Nordic countries.