Greinasafni: Icelandic Times
Akureyri - Winter Sports Capital of Iceland final
Akureyri is, in many ways, one of the most idyllic towns in Iceland and is sometimes compared to the cosy alpine villages of Switzerland. Set deep in the far reaches of Eyjafjörður, this close knit-town is the second largest in Iceland with a population of 17,800, and is the centre of culture, education and leisure activities of the North. Blessed with relatively warm summers, cold winters and plenty of snow, its location has one of the warmest summer climates in Iceland even though it is a mere 100 km from the Arctic Circle.

It's got that ‘small town’ feel to it, laid back and unruffled, yet a surprisingly stimulating cultural life with many art galleries, art museums, and a theatre company. The town centre comes to life - especially on Friday and Saturday nights - with restaurants, nightclubs, bars and hot spots which rev into gear, catering to tourists and locals alike.
 
Akureyri, the ideal conference town

The new Hof Cultural and Conference Centre, opened in August 2010, is the latest addition to Akureyri's growing cultural life, providing a state-of-the-art venue for music concerts, the performing arts, conferences, exhibitions, special occasions and events. The centre comprises two auditoriums, a restaurant and various conference rooms, with facilities for groups of all sizes. The Hof is also the new home to Akureyri’s Tourist Information Centre, located just inside the front entrance.

Akureyri’s compact centre makes getting around town on foot enjoyable and healthy, with hotels, the main swimming pool, restaurants and shops all clustered in an easily accessible radius. The free bus service is another welcome addition and way to get around.

Akureyri, the ideal sports and leisure town
With healthy annual snowfalls in recent years, Akureyri is, without a doubt, one of the top skiing spots in the country. The Skiing Centre provides all that you need to indulge in downhill and cross-country recreational skiing, including ski rental and a ski school. The ski area is located just above the town and is a 10 minute drive from the airport and the city centre. See their website: www.hlidarfjall.is

Swim in Winter!
Icelanders love their geothermally-heated pools and even go swimming on a snowy winter's day. One of the most popular swimming pools in the country is the Akureyri Swimming Pool. The pool area has two large outdoor swimming pools with temperatures around 28°C along with four geothermal hot pots, a Turkish bath, water slides, a children's pool, and an indoor swimming pool. Next to the pool is a play area with playground equipment.

The Annual Éljagangur Winter Sports Festival

Éljagangur, is the name given to a new, four-day winter festival to be held in Akureyri from the 10th to the 13th of February 2011. Highlights of this exciting event will include:
●    snowcross competition
●    mountain climbing
●    snow track racing
●    ski touring courses
●    giant snowman on the town square
●    ice sculptures at the Hof Cultural & Conference Centre
●    sledding races
In addition to all these activities, there will be an outdoor winter sports fair featuring local and national companies. For more information, see their website at: www.eljagangur.is

Spring Adventures at Easter

Every Easter there are a great variety of events in and around Akureyri. The locals celebrate by taking some time off for hiking, skiing, and treks into the surrounding mountains, afterwards attending a local concert in town or having a few drinks with friends in their favorite downtown restaurant or nightclub. Easter is a beautiful time in North Iceland with many spring flowers beginning to bud in local gardens and the longer days giving promise of the onset of summer.

In the wake of this popularity surge that Akureyri has been enjoying as a top winter destination in recent years, new accommodation has opened and still more is on the way. A new Icelandair Hotel will open there in the Spring of 2011 and plans for new holiday accommodation on the slopes of Mt Hlidarfjall are on the drawing board, including a variety of new studio apartments and holiday flats.
 

websites: www.visitakureyri.is

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