The National Theatre of Iceland is a vibrant theater in Reykjavík designed by Gudjon Samuelsson – the same architect behind the famous Hallgrimskirkja Church. Stop by to catch a show and view its stunning architecture!
The National Theatre of Iceland is now one of the two main theatres in Reykjavík. In Icelandic, they are referred to as Þjóðleikhúsið (the National Theatre) and Borgarleikhúsið (The People’s Theatre). The National Theatre, the one we will be covering in this article opened in the year 1950 and was designed by the great Guðjón Samúelsson, the designer of Hallgrímkirkja Church and many other remarkable buildings.
Everything about the building is grand and royal-like with red carpet floors on the inside and gilded artwork with gold and silver. Ever since its opening in 1950 the baronial structure, the brilliant shows and awards winning plays have sparked an ever-growing interest with the Icelandic nation for theater and arts.
Iceland’s National Theater in Reykjavik has three stages within the actual original building and one behind it in a separate building. The biggest one is the Main Stage, seating over 500 people, the second one is the Black Box seating 140, the third one, the Theatre Cellar with seats for 120 people. The fourth, the one in a separate building is Kúlan, or the Ball seating only about 80 people at full capacity.
The National Theatre has a very active performance season, each session with around 30 productions. The season is comprised of various performances balancing between new ones, old classics, foreign and locally written scripts, musicals, dance pieces and more.
The theater produces around ten new productions each year. It also collaborates with dance groups, independent theatres and performers. A production of Iceland’s National Theatre will be an intimate experience, even though it’s the biggest theater in the Icelandic theatre scene.
If you are looking to catch a show it is important to note that the theatre is closed during the summer months. Also, the majority of the productions are in Icelandic. Still, even for non-Icelandic speaking visitors the experience of going to a show can be magical!
The National Theatre in Reykjavik is located downtown on Hverfisgata 19, the neighboring and parallel street to the famous Laugavegur shopping street. It is easy to spot as its dark grey art-deco architecture really sticks out amongst white buildings and the occasional colorful corrugated iron houses.
GPS coordinates of National Theatre of Iceland: 64.1471° N, 21.9314° W
The National Theatre is in walking distance from most accommodations downtown and located right next to Safnahúsið bus stop. It’s about 9 minutes walking from Harpa Concert and Conference Hall, 8 minutes from Hallgrímskirkja church and 12 minutes from Hlemmur Food Court.
Reykjavik city is known to have a buzzing art scene, creativity and lots of color. So it’s no surprise that there’s more than one active theatres in Reykjavik. There is of course Þjóðleikhúsið “The National Theatre” but another big Reykjavik Theatre is Borgarleikhúsið.
Borgarleikhúsið was founded to compete with the National Theatre, which is run by the state. Another small one is Tjarnarbíó, which mainly showcases independent shows and plays.
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