The Hof Cultural and Conference Centre, also known as Menningarhúsið Hof, is a beautiful building and attraction in the capital of north Iceland, Akureyri.
Those who rent a car and travel north will be able to reach it independently, as will those who book certain self-drive packages such as this 10-Day Summer Adventure. If you’d rather not drive, packages like this 10-Day Vacation will also allow you a chance to visit.
Construction on the Hof Cultural and Conference Centre began in August, 2010, inspired by the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. Like many buildings in Akureyri, it was excellently designed and is now one of the town’s most iconic features. Its architecture is beautiful and modern, and its position is perfect, being right by the town centre and harbour.
It boasts a beautiful lobby and two auditoriums. The first has capacity to fit 500 comfortably, with raised seating for the enjoyment of guests when watching theatre and musical performances. It also has an array of modern features, such as a projector, wifi and a sound system, for business conferences.
The second auditorium is smaller and more intimate, with space for 200. It should be noted, however, that the room is level, so those on the shorter side should be sure to get seats at the front for concerts and acts. Both auditoriums are renowned for their excellent acoustics.
The Hof Cultural and Conference Centre also has a fantastic restaurant that utilises local, fresh ingredients. Up to 150 people can be seated here at once, although for special events, the room can be extended to fit up to 500.
Because it is the most immediately distinguishable cultural centre in Akureyri, the spaces in Hof are utilised in festivals throughout the year. Even many outdoor events occur on its doorstep.
The first major festival on the calendar is the Iceland Winter Games, where the town utilises the seasonal snows to host an array of skiing, snowboarding and similar competitions and displays; it occurs at the end of March or start of April.
Next is the VAKA Folk Arts Festival, usually in May, that utilises the building perhaps more than any other. Over five days, artists from across the spectrum from the Nordic world and Ireland flock to Akureyri to showcase their works, whether they are concerts, exhibitions, dance performances, theatre acts or handicrafts workshops.
June 17th is the anniversary of Iceland’s independence from Denmark in 1944, and a National Holiday; in Akureyri, many events relating to the celebrations occur in Hof. The estimated anniversary of Akureyri’s founding is also celebrated throughout the town, on a Friday in late August.
The Iceland Summer Games also occur in August; though no events go on inside the conference centre, many can be seen just outside it. Hof is also a great place to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve, due to the fact that it is so central and they are set off all across the town.
Akureyri has a wealth of other cultural attractions, making a stroll through the town a great way to spend at least half a day in north Iceland. Other than the Hof Cultural Centre, the town boasts a spectacular church, the world’s northernmost botanical gardens, an art museum and a motorcycle museum.
The town also has the Gallery Box, the Art and Design Walk and the Arts Alley, which all have great appeal to those with an appreciation for culture.