Iceland Airwaves is an annual music festival held in Reykjavík, Iceland in October each year. Unlike bigger festivals such as Roskilde or Glastonbury, the festival doesn't take place in a huge outdoor area. Rather concerts are held at various clubs and venues in downtown Reykjavík, which makes it quite a different experience.
The first Airwaves was in 1999, and conisted of a single concert meant to showcase a few Icelandic bands to overseas record executives and reporters. The concert was held in an aircraft hangar in Reykjavík, and it was sponsored by IcelandAir (hence the name). The bands featured were Quarashi, Gus Gus, and Sigur Rós.
The success of the first show encouraged organizers to go bigger in 2000, lining up several Icelandic acts along with some bigger international artists (including Suede, Thievery Corporation, and The Flaming Lips). The 2001 festival was even bigger, including over 60 Icelandic acts as well as Sparta, Chicks on Speed, Lake Trout, and three more international acts.
Airwaves 2002 is set to be the biggest one yet, and the recently announced lineup includes Fatboy Slim, The Hives, and Remy Zero, along with the usual swarm of Icelandic bands and DJs from around the world.
The Airwaves festival has been very successful at promoting Icelandic music. Several bands, such as Sigur Rós, Quarashi, and Trabant received international attention as a result of appearing there. It has also brought attention to Reykjavík itself as a cultural city and increased tourism (over 1500 people are expected to come from overseas specifically for this year's festival).
More information can be had at www.icelandairwaves.com