Iceland Independence Day around the world in 2024

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Iceland Independence Day
  Dates of Iceland Independence Day around the world
2025 IcelandJun 17
Iceland Tue, Jun 17National Holiday
2024 IcelandJun 17
Iceland Mon, Jun 17National Holiday
2023 IcelandJun 17
Iceland Sat, Jun 17National Holiday
2022 IcelandJun 17
Iceland Fri, Jun 17National Holiday
2021 IcelandJun 17
Iceland Thu, Jun 17National Holiday

Also called Icelandic National Day, June 17th marks Iceland's move to complete independence from Denmark

When is Icelandic Independence Day?

This holiday is always celebrated on June 17th.

Also called Icelandic National Day or simply 'the seventeenth of June', the day marks Iceland's move to complete independence from Denmark.

History of Icelandic Independence Day

Iceland was proclaimed an independent republic on June 17th 1944.

Iceland actually gained independence from Denmark much earlier, on December 1st 1918 with the signing of the Act of Union with Denmark. The Act recognised Iceland as an independent state under the Danish crown.

The formation of the republic in 1944 was based on a clause in the 1918 Act which allowed for a change to the relationship between Iceland and Denmark in 1943.

Due to the German occupation of Denmark in 1943, a vote on the revision to the Act was delayed until after the Second World War finished.

The referendum was held in at the end of May 1944. Voters were asked whether the Union with Denmark should be abolished and whether to adopt a new republican constitution. Both measures were approved with more than 98% in favour and a voter turnout of 98.4%.

Although he would have preferred a different outcome in the referendum, King Christian X of Denmark sent a letter on June 17th 1944 congratulating Icelanders on forming their Republic.

The June 17th date was already a significant date in Iceland's history as it is the birthday of Jón Sigurdsson who was the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement which led to the 1918 Act of Union. Sigurdsson died in Copenhagen in 1879.

June 17th, was therefore chosen as Iceland's National Holiday as a fitting date to mark the Independence from Denmark, the proclamation of the Icelandic republic and to recognize Jón Sigurdsson's efforts toward Icelandic independence.

The day has been a legal public holiday since 1971, though it had been a tradition for most employers to give their workers a day off since 1945. 

How is Icelandic Independence Day celebrated?

Icelanders take to the streets to celebrate independence. Colourful ceremonies are followed by parades, street theatre, sideshows and outdoor dancing in the midnight sun all over Iceland.



Did you know?

Three facts about Iceland Independence Day

Vatnajökull glacier is the largest ice cap in Europe. It is actually larger than all the other glaciers in Europe combined.

In Iceland, there was no television broadcast on Thursdays until 1987.

Þingvellir National Park, a World Heritage Site, is one of the only two places in the world where two tectonic plates drifting apart are clearly seen. (The other one is the Great Rift Valley of East Africa.) The plates move apart about 2 centimeters annually.

More facts about Iceland Independence Day

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