Workshops & Panels

Chigozie Obioma leads a workshops during the 2019 Iceland Writers Retreat. 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

2023 Faculty

Amanda Smyth

Amanda Smyth

NAACP Award nominee
Carol Leonnig

Carol Leonnig

Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chloe Aridjis

Chloe Aridjis

PEN/Faulkner Award winner
Claire Messud

Claire Messud

Guggenheim Fellowship Award Recipient
Danny Ramadan

Danny Ramadan

Canada Reads nominee
Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi

Royal Society of Literature fellow
James Wood

James Wood

Harvard University Professor
Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid

Booker Prize nominee
Omar Mouallem

Omar Mouallem

Wilfred Eggelston Nonfiction Award winner
Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Booker Prize nominee
Rúnar Helgi Vignisson

Rúnar Helgi Vignisson

Creative Writing professor


All workshops, readings, panels, and meals and will be at the Fosshotel Reykjavík. We have secured several rooms at the special conference rate for participants who wish to book accommodation at the venue itself. Please visit our Registration Page for details on the conference rate.


Explore Iceland

IWR participants take part in an exclusive full-day outing into the Icelandic countryside, in addition to a literary walking tour of Reykjavík (the latter is for all participants). IRR participants attend two unique all-day tours. 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. UPDATE: We will replace one tour with a brand-new tour for 2023! Stay tuned for details.

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. All IWR and IRR can take this tour.

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”).

One of a kind Reykjavík City Tour

This trip showcases some of the best highlights Iceland’s capital has to offer, including a special visit to view the preserved manuscripts of the Icelandic Sagas (not usually open to the public) and stops at the National Museum, Árbæjarsafn open-air folk museum, and the brand new Icelandic Lava Show, the first exhibition in the world where you get to see real, liquid lava close up (and safely!).

Reykjavik Literary Walking Tour

During the retreat, all participants are also invited to join a literary walking tour of Reykjavik, organized 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, Read, & Write Optional Extension

This optional, two-day extension gives you 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 mic 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 & 2018 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 enrolment includes breakfast (for those who have booked accommodation at the hotel), three lunches and one dinner, plus coffee during breaks and cocktail receptions.

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 & 2017 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

If you are two people who wish to share a room and take part in the IWR / IRR or a combination of the two, you’ll be able to book a double room as part of registration.

If you’d like to bring a guest with you who will not take part in IWR workshops or IRR lectures, tours, and panels, that’s fine too. A “non-participating partner” can attend the welcome drink and dinner, all receptions, literary walking tour of Reykjavík, pub night, and one all-day tour in the Icelandic countryside. We can also advise on how they wish to book additional tours while you are busy in the workshop sessions and panels. Full details are available on the registration page.

My partner felt very welcome and accommodated.”

–Renate, Ottawa, Canada, 2014 participant

Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award

Fatin Abbas with the other Alumni Award winners
2018 Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipients

Due to the cancellation of the 2020 event in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the 2021 being held virtually, we regret that we will not be able to offer Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards for 2022; the 2020 award recipients will be able to attend our 2022 event. We are unsure yet if we will be able to offer additional grants for 2022, but will post any updates here as soon as we find out.

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.

In previous years we have 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. (We may be able to offer for 2022.)

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 sjöunda sinn dagana 29. apríl – 1. maí, 2021. 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 2023

April 26 – 30, 2023

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