Workshops & Panels

Adam Gopnik leads a workshop during the 2015 IWR.  Photo: Roman Gerasymenko.
Adam Gopnik leads a workshop during the 2015 IWR. Photo: Roman Gerasymenko.

Over the course of the retreat, each participant is enrolled in a total of five two-hour small-group writing workshops (max. 15 participants) led by internationally acclaimed authors, a Q&A panel with all faculty, and numerous readings and social functions.

Each of our Featured Authors teaches two different workshops, and you have plenty of time to interact with faculty, including those with whom you do not have any workshops.

Workshops were amazing. Down-to-earth discussions in a small group atmosphere.”

– Sam, Canada, 2015 participant

2018 Faculty

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman

New York Times bestselling author
Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason

Icelandic Literary Prize winner
Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson

Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee
Gwendoline Riley

Gwendoline Riley

Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction nominee (2017)
Hallgrímur Helgason

Hallgrímur Helgason

Icelandic Literary Prize winner
Hilton Als

Hilton Als

Pulitzer Prize winner
Lina Wolff

Lina Wolff

August Prize winner
Pamela Paul

Pamela Paul

The New York Times Book Review editor
Rory Maclean

Rory Maclean

Bestselling travel writer
Susan Shreve

Susan Shreve

Guggenheim Award winner
Terry Fallis

Terry Fallis

Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour winner

Past Faculty


Hotel Reykjavik Natura

The Sóley Natura Spa at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura (free admission for guests in premium rooms).
The Sóley Natura Spa at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura (free admission for guests in premium rooms).

The retreat is based out of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, a comfortable, modern hotel next to a popular wooded area, just a 20-minute walk from the city centre and five minutes from a geothermal beach. All the workshops and panels will be held here.

The food was spectacular. The service of the hotel was great, courteous, professional.”

– Anon, Canada, 2015 participant

Explore Iceland

Participants can choose between three exclusive full-day outings into the Icelandic countryside, in addition to a literary walking tour of Reykjavík. All the day tours are led by and feature contemporary Icelandic writers, and include a stop and reading at Gljúfrasteinn, the former home of Nobel Prize winning author Halldór Laxness.

Literary-themed Golden Circle Tour

A unique variation on Iceland’s most popular excursion that includes stops at Geyser geothermal fields, Gullfoss waterfall, and the UNESCO-listed Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), as well as a visit to Iceland’s ancient seat of learning, Skálholt.

Literary Borgarfjörður

This trip travels west to the Borgarfjörður region, setting of the famous Egil’s Saga, as well as numerous other Icelandic sagas. We’ll circle the picturesque Hvalfjörður “Whale” fjord and visit the cultural centre Reykholt, where chieftain and writer Snorri Sturluson lived in the 13th century. Natural wonders on this tour include Europe’s largest hot spring, Deildartunguhver, and the waterfalls Barnafoss (“Children’s Falls”) and Hraunfossar (“Lava Falls”).

Geology, Ecology, and Literary Inspiration

This trip begins near geological wonders in the Reykjanes peninsula, including the spectacular Lake Kleifarvatn (made famous in Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel The Draining Lake) and the Krýsuvík geothermal area. We’ll also have a reading at the Strandakirkja Church, a visit to the Sólheimar Eco Village, and a stop at the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa to sample some delicious rye bread baked in the hot geothermal ground.

Reykjavik Literary Walking Tour

During the retreat, all participants are also invited to join a literary walking tour of Reykjavik, sponsored by the UNESCO City of Literature.


Focus on Writing

Once you’ve been inspired by Iceland and by the writing workshops, why not spend some additional, quieter time in Reykjavík to work on your writing and enjoy the continued company of some of your fellow writers? We’ve dedicated blocks of time for writers to focus on writing. Participants can choose to stay in the quiet hotel or wander over to a café in town.


Relax & Write Optional Extension

This optional, two-day extension includes two additional nights’ accommodation. You will have free time during the days to take additional tours, walk through town, shop for souvenirs, or write in a local café. The group will then gather in the evenings for dinner together. At the second dinner we’ll have an open mike night where you’ll have an opportunity (if you wish) to share some of your own work with your fellow IWR participants.

The extension was a great idea, good mix between time off and gathering.”

– Martine, Netherlands, 2015 participant

Music, Food, & More


Late night offerings include a chance to hit the streets of Reykjavik to see live music, listen to readings by local writers, and dine at some of Reykjavik’s best eateries. And you’ll be well fed: IWR enrollment includes breakfast, three lunches and one dinner, plus coffee during breaks and cocktail receptions.

We hope to include receptions hosted by Icelandic leaders and will confirm details closer to the event.

The one-on-one contact with the faculty during meals and at the extracurricular activities made this a completely different conference experience.”

–Megan, Iceland, 2014 participant

I love the internationality of the participants. I met people from so many different countries and it was wonderful hearing about their experiences.”

–Muddy, USA, 2017 participant

Spouse & Partner Program


Bring a guest with you—he or she can attend all the receptions and tours—everything except the workshops and lunches on those days. Your guest will be able to book additional tours while you are busy in the writing and workshop sessions. Full details will be available on the registration page.

If you and your partner both want to attend as full participants, that’s fine too, and you can select that option on our registration page.

My partner felt very welcome and accommodated.”

–Renate, Ottawa, Canada, 2014 participant

Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award

IWR_Day3_005 © Roman Gerasymenko

We offer a special IWR Alumni Award granted based on merit and financial need. This program is open to all, and funded entirely by our great alumni. We will open the application process in about September.

We will once again run a writing contest to win a spot at the Retreat (excluding flights). Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest information on how to apply.

Also, check out arts bodies in your home country. Many of our participants have attended thanks to support from arts councils in countries like Switzerland, Australia and Singapore.

The IWR was not only a world-class writing retreat. It was … a chance to cut to the heart of my writing and immerse myself in five glorious days of literary splendor.”

–Megan Ross, 2016 Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipient

Á Íslensku


Ritlistarnámskeiðið Iceland Writers Retreat verður haldið í fimmta sinn dagana 11.−15. apríl 2018. Á þessari alþjóðlegu ráðstefnu og vinnustofu gefst rithöfundum og fólki sem hefur bók í bígerð kostur á að taka þátt í námskeiðum og vinnustofum sem þaulreyndir höfundar og ritstjórar sjá um. Námskeiðið verður á ensku.

Auk námskeiða og vinnustofa fá ráðstefnugestir að kynnast hinum ríka bókmenntaarfi Íslendinga. Þeir munu hitta íslenska höfunda, halda á söguslóðir og njóta sérskipulagðra ferða að náttúruperlum landsins.

Iceland Writers Retreat er ætlað að höfða til erlendra gesta sem vilja æfa sig í skrifum og kynnast um leið sögu, menningu og náttúrufegurð Íslands. Heimafólk getur líka skráð sig á námskeiðið.

Ég held að IWR sé mikill hvalreki fyrir íslenska bókmenningu. Leiðbeinendur á heimsmælikvarða ásamt þáttakendum færa heim fjölbreytt og góð áhrif.”

–Andri Snær Magnason

Iceland Writers Retreat 2018

April 11-15, 2018

Register Now

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