Feasting on Fresh Fish with Locals: The Great Fish Day in Dalvík

The Great Fish Day in Dalvík, north Iceland gives you an opportunity to stuff yourself with fresh seafood and join villagers for the biggest celebration of the year.

The Great Fish Day is an annual celebration of seafood that takes place in Dalvík in the northern part of Iceland. This fantastic food festival attracts people from all over the country and it’s definitely the highlight of the summer for the inhabitants of Dalvík.

A crowd of people celebrating the great fish day (Fiskidagurinn mikli) on the dock in Dalvík, north Iceland.Gorgeous day in Dalvík last summer. Travelade/Nína. 

I took part in the celebrations for the first time last summer. I wasn’t really planning on going to Dalvík but decided to give it a shot since I was staying in Akureyri, which is a nearby town. We arrived in Dalvík on a sunny day in August, parked the car in the center of Dalvík and walked to the harbour. It was still early, probably around 11 am, but the harbour was already crowded.

We were pretty hungry, so we decided to take a tour around the harbour and taste the delicacies that were being offered. In two hours time I had tasted fresh sashimi, fish and chips, fish soup, dried cod, a prawn cocktail, Indian fish curry and even a fish burger. I’m generally not a huge fan of seafood but these courses were delish! There was live music the whole time and people were singing and having a great time, which made the seafood-tasting even more delightful.

Two women dressed in traditional African clothing offering guests some dried cod on the great fish day in Dalvík, north Iceland. These colourful ladies offered dried cod to visitors. Travelade/Nína. 

After having stuffed ourselves with seafood, we decided to take a closer look at the schedule to see if there were any events that we were interested in. I quickly found something that sparked my curiosity – a demonstration of a shark being cut into pieces. When it was time, people started to flock around a large table with the carcass of a huge shark laying on top of it. A fisherman started cutting it whilst explaining the anatomy of the creature. The smell was awful, but it was surprisingly interesting to observe the operation.

A fisherman cutting up a shark. A large crowd of kids standing around him, watching him closely. The cutting of the shark. Travelade/Nína. 

Instead of going to the big concert in the evening, we decided to have a drink at a local bar called Gísli, Eiríkur and Helgi. The bar was crowded and everyone was in good humour. The weather was exceptionally good that day so most of the people sat outside in the evening sun.

Although we missed the evening concert, we had so much fun on the Great Fish Day in Dalvík. I highly recommend this mouth-watering festival, particularly for seafood-lovers and those who are interested in joining local non-touristy events.

 

Fun things to do around Dalvík

Dalvík is a beautiful town well worth exploring. There are numerous things to do in the area, in case you’d like to stay there for a few days. Here are some suggestions:
 

  • Whale watching: In Dalvík, you have exceptionally good conditions for whale watching. There's a very good chance to see humpback whales in the bay and porpoises are frequently spotted as well. You can book a tour by clicking right here
     
  • Day tour to Grímsey Arctic Island: The arctic circle crosses Grímsey Island, which is located around 25 mi (40 km) north of Iceland's coastline. Visiting this isolated arctic island is an unforgettable experience – you can book a day tour by clicking here
     
  • A quick tour to Hrísey Island: Hrísey is the second largest island off Iceland's coast. It's located in Eyjafjörður and the ferry ride from Árskógasandur (which is just 15 minutes away from Dalvík) takes just 15 minutes. Check out the ferry schedule here
     
  • The Beer Spa at Árskógasandur: The Beer Spa offers visitors to bathe in hot tubs filled with warm beer while sipping on Kaldi craft beer. It's located in the Kaldi Brewery in Árskógasandur, midway from Akureyri to Dalvík. Book your spot here
     

Q&A

When does the Great Fish Day take place?
It takes place the second Saturday of August every year.

Where is Dalvík?
Dalvík is located on the Tröllaskagi Peninsula, just some 25 mi (41 km) north of Akureyri. That’s just over half an hour by car. If you are on the other hand driving from Reykjavík, you will need to spend 5–6 hours on the road.

How much does it cost to participate in the Great Fish Day?
Nothing! It’s absolutely free to join and you can eat as much seafood as you can without paying a dime.

How is the schedule?
The festivities start in the week before the actual Great Fish Day. All sorts of event take places during the preparation week, you can see the program here.

One of the most delightful events before the actual Fish Day is on the Friday evening when locals invite visitors to their homes for some fish soup. This evening is called the Fish Soup Evening. The homes of these hospitable locals are marked with two lit torches in the front yard.

The program on the actual Great Fish Day starts at 9 am and finishes with fireworks right before midnight. You can take a look at the webpage of the Great Fish Day here.

Is it fun for kids?
Totally. There are numerous activities for children during the day and this is generally a very family-friendly event.