Harpa is one of Reykjavik‘s greatest and distinguished landmarks. It is a cultural and social centre in the heart of the city and features stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the North Atlantic Ocean. Harpa is an enchanting destination for intrigued travellers and its grand-scale award-winning architecture has attracted 7 million guests since its opening, May 4, 2011.
Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre offers the best facilities for concerts and conferences in Northern Europe. Harpa has received numerous awards and prizes. Harpa was chosen one of the best concert halls of the new millennium by the prestigious music magazine Gramophone magazine and was chosen the best performance venue in 2011 by Travel & Leisure magazine. Autumn 2012 Harpa received the prestigious award as the Best MICE Centre in Northern Europe.
Numerous concerts have been held in Harpa from the opening of the building. Diversity is at the forefront and all musical genres can find home in Harpa. Various music festivals are held regularly in the building including Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik Midsummer Music, Dark Music Days, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Reykjavik Jazz Festival, Sónar Reykjavík, Tectonics and Harpa International Music Academy. Harpa is the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera and the Reykjavik Big Band that hold numerous concerts annually which are very well attended.
Harpa is a powerful conference centre that has established itself internationally. Among the international conferences that have been held in Harpa from the opening are EUWIN 2011, EABCT 2012, STS XXVI Congress 2012, You Are in Control, VestNorden, Peace Congress in Reykjavik, Poptech 2012, Via Nordica 2012, EOS 2013, Pen International 2013, Artic Circle 2013, World Congress of Esperanto 2013, LREC 2014, the Eve Online Fanfest 2012, 2013 and 2014, ConneXion 2014 and Spirit of Humanity Forum 2014.
Harpa is in demand as a venue for various events as the usability of the building is countless. Harpa Catering Service plays a important role in achieving excellence. Among the major events and exhibitions that have taken place in the house are Læknadagar, UT Messan, Design March, Reykjavik Fashion Festival, Reykjavík Chess Tournament 2012-2017, Nike Sneakerball, Food and Fun, Expo Pavilion, Wild Reindeer in Iceland, Pop-up Market, Búrið Christmas Food Market, Yoga Soundscape, painting and art exhibitions, vehicle premieres, weddings and other banquets.
World famous orchestras, dance and theatre groups have visited Harpa. Berliner Philharmoniker played in Harpa led by Sir Simon Rattle, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, San Francisco Ballet danced under the direction of Helgi Tómasson, St. Petersburg Festival Ballet danced the Swan Lake and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre brought us Hamlet. Among the international artists and musical icons that Harpa has presented are Kraftwerk, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Patti Smith, Cyndi Lauper, Jamie Cullum, Bryan Ferry, Tony Bennett, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, the pianists Maria Joao Pires and Daniil Trifonov and Maxim Vengerov, violinist and conductor. Among well-known Icelandic musicians who have appeared in Harpa include Björk, Bubbi, Stuðmenn, Nýdönsk, Of Monsters and Men, Múm, Hjaltalín and Mugison.
Múlinn Jazzclub plays weekly in Björtuloft and The Tin Drum appears montly in Kaldalón. Classical Sundays, variety of classical chamber- and vocal concerts, can be heard every week in Norðurljós or Kaldalón. Harpa grants an annual award, the Upbeat, a prize for children and youth compositions and Ómkvörnin, where composition students from the Iceland Art Academy showcase their most recent works, takes place twice a year. Maximús, the music loving mouse, is regularly seen walking around the building.
Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre is designed by Olafur Eliasson, Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið Architects. Harpa has won multiple awards for architecture including Mies van der Rohe in 2013, Best public space – Arkitekturmassan Awards 2012, World Architecture Award 2010.
In Harpa there are two restaurants, Smurstöðin on the 1st floor and Kolabraut on the 4th floor as well as Harpa Catering Service. Harpa shops offer a great range of Nordic design, books, flowers and other gift items. They include Epal, Sterna travel agency, Geysirland and Be Inspired. Guided tours of the building are available daily.
The name of the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre was made public on 11 December 2009. The name Harpa was the winning name out of 4,156 proposals entered by 1,200 citizens. The demand was that the name should be in Icelandic but easily articulated in most languages. The name Harpa has more than one meaning. It is an old Icelandic word that refers to a time of year and is in fact a month in the old Nordic calendar. The first day of that month is celebrated as the first day of summer and marks the beginning of a brighter time where nature comes to live and the colours of the environment sharpen. Harpa also refers to the instrument that refers to the activities and operations within. In the opinion of some, Harpa looks likes a drawn harp from a certain angle.