Iceland Writers Retreat (IWR)
How has Covid-19 affected the event?
Unfortunately we had to cancel our 2020 event. We hope to run our 2021 as usual, though of course while observing all health and safety requirements.
How much does it cost?
The 2020 Iceland Writers Retreat costs ISK 198,000 per participant, excluding accommodation. The cost for 2021 (including the Relax, Read, and Write extension) will be published later in 2020; it will be higher in ISK but due to currency depreciation it will likely be the same or lower in foreign currencies than for 2020. Please visit our registration page for details on what is included (as well as a currency converter!).
Iceland can be an expensive country to visit, so while you don’t need to pay for many additional events yourself, things like meals and drinks can cost more than in other countries.
Where's the apostrophe?
We thought about calling this event the Iceland Writers’ Retreat, but decided to keep our brand plain and simple and wanted to avoid confusion when others wrote about it. So we’re taking a page from several famous companies, like Diners Club and the Vancouver Writers Fest, and going apostrophe free.
Who can attend the retreat?
Everyone is welcome to attend. There is no application process. We think you’ll get the most out of it if you have an interest in developing your skills as a writer, but there is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish. Whether you’re aspiring, published, or simply enjoy writing as a hobby, we think you’ll find inspiration and have something to learn from all of our small-group workshops. We are focusing on books — rather than magazines, guidebooks, or online writing — in both fiction and non-fiction. So, for example, there are no poetry or screenwriting workshops but writers who focus on those genres are still welcome. Likewise if you write in a language other than English that’s fine too, but the language of instruction is English.
Will I have a chance to pitch my novel to someone?
The Iceland Writers Retreat was founded by writers for writers. The focus of our program is to help you work on developing your writing, to introduce you to well-known writers, to give you the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, and to introduce you to Iceland’s rich literary culture. There is no specific time dedicated in the schedule for you to pitch your book to agents or publishers, although of course there will be plenty of chances to network.
I'm a poet/playwright/other writer. Is this retreat for me?
The Iceland Writers Retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instructors will be focusing on writing for both fiction and non-fiction books, rather than genre fiction or other media. Having said that, we’ve welcomed delegates who wrote primarily poetry or plays, and they still found the workshops helpful. At our 2016 retreat, our featured author Gerður Kristný was also an award-winning poet. Whether you’re working on crime fiction, memoir, or even just scribbling for fun, we’re confident you’ll enjoy the workshops. After you register, we’ll be in touch about how to prioritize which workshops you would like to attend.
I don't write in English. Can I still attend?
Workshops are taught in English, but of course the knowledge you gain should be applicable across all languages. Several of our previous delegates write in languages other than English, and they felt they gained a lot from the courses too.
How much one-on-one time will I get with writers?
The five workshops you attend will be small groups of a maximum of 15 people with one writer. Our writers will also be attending the cultural tours, receptions and meals, so there will be plenty of time to mingle.
Can you guarantee that I will attend workshops with certain writers?
As the event approaches, we will send you information on all the different workshops that will be taught, and you will be asked to prioritize your favourites. Those who registered first for the event will be given priority to sign up for workshops. We will do our very best to give you a chance to attend your top choice workshops, although due to scheduling issues and maximum class sizes, this may not always be possible. (In the past, however, almost everyone was placed in most, if not all, of their top choices for workshops.)
I'm signed up for five workshops, but the schedule has six workshop slots, with one "free" session. Can I attend a sixth workshop during that time?
Unfortunately not. There is not enough space in the workshops to make an extra sixth workshop available to all participants (though if that became possible, we would of course do so). Also we want to make sure you have a little bit of free time during the workshop days to work on your writing, spend time with fellow participants, or simply relax.
Where do your writers and delegates come from?
Our featured writers come from numerous countries, as do our delegates. You can expect to meet people from around the world, as well as plenty of locals of course!
Why are you called a retreat? Isn't this more like a conference or workshop?
We did think about calling our event Iceland Writing Workshops or Iceland Writing Conference, but we chose the word retreat instead because we wanted to convey a sense of friendliness and intimacy to the event. It doesn’t mean you’ll be isolated or on your own — although of course there is time dedicated for you to work on your writing yourself — but rather that you’ll have the chance to be in a unique environment that is conducive to creativity and have the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, rather than huge, impersonal crowds.
Do all of your facilities have disabled access?
Our main venue the Radisson SAS Hotel Saga has full disabled access. The excursion sites are also mostly fully equipped for disabilities. Please contact us with any specific requests or concerns and we will confirm everything for you.
Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes, that will not be a problem. Please note any dietary requirements on our registration form.
Can I book accommodation separately?
Yes. We have secured a special conference rate at the closest hotel, the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, but you are free to reserve accommodation anywhere else you wish. Please note, however, that we cannot advise on alternatives for accommodation.
If you wish to attend with a friend, you can each sign up to the IWR and/or IRR, and then book one twin or double room. You can also sign up a non-participating partner. Details are on our registration page.
Is it possible to attend only the workshops?
No. The Iceland Writers Retreat and Iceland Readers Retreat are available only as complete packages. You may choose whether you wish to book accommodation at our partner hotel or to book on your own. Details are available on our registration page.
I want to stay longer / arrive early. Is it possible to do that?
Yes, and we highly recommend it! There is plenty to see in Iceland. When you book your hotel room, you will have the option of booking additional days. If you are flying to Iceland with Icelandair, you can use your time in Iceland as a stopover between Europe and North America (or vice versa). Stopovers of up to one week have no extra charge on ticket price.
You may also wish to consider signing up for our “Relax, Read & Write” extension, which includes two group dinners and an open mike night for participants to read from their work.
I'm only staying for one additional night in town. Can I attend just the first dinner of the Relax, Read & Write extension?
Unfortunately not. We have special deals for the meals and accommodation and it’s only possible to book the entire two-night extension.
What should I bring with me?
We’ll send you a detailed welcome kit upon registration that includes plenty of handy tips and links on travelling to Iceland. If you decide to purchase a tour to the famous Blue Lagoon, or make a visit to one of the capital’s outdoor geothermal swimming pools (and we highly recommend this), you should bring a bathing suit with you. Don’t worry if you forget, though; you can always rent one. And of course just drop us a line if you have any further questions!
What time should I arrive on the first day and leave on the last?
Things kick off later in the afternoon on Wed (around 5 p.m.), so if you’re arriving from North America you’ll have most of the day to relax and even take a nap. If your flight is from Europe it will depend on the arrival time of your flight, but you should be fine with an afternoon arrival. The only event on the first day is the welcome dinner and author reading.
Our main event finishes in the late morning on Sunday, so you have time to get to the airport for an afternoon flight, possibly with a stop at the Blue Lagoon if you wish. Many of our participants choose to stay for the Relax, Read & Write two-night extension too.
Do you offer any scholarships or grants to attend?
Each year IWR looks for ways to provide funding to those who need financial assistance to attend the retreat. We usually run a writing contest to win a spot at the Retreat. Due to the cancellation of the 2020 event, we will not be offering a writing competition or Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards for 2021, because we will send our 2020 recipients instead. We hope to be able to offer these awards again in future.
Iceland Readers Retreat (IRR) – next running in April 2021
Do I need to know anything about Nordic literature in order to attend IRR?
There is no experience necessary for IRR—our only requirement is that you like to talk about books! While Nordic literature experts will find the lectures and discussions offer new insight, the program is designed to introduce newcomers to books of this region.
Will I have to read a lot before the IRR event?
We will provide a short list of suggested books to read before the event. It is not required that you do so, though you may find the discussions more enriching if you have read some of the material.
Can my whole book club attend IRR?
Yes! Both groups and solo-travelers are welcome at IRR. Space is limited to 25 participants and allocated on a first come, first served basis.
If I’m attending the Writers Retreat can my partner join the Readers Retreat?
Yes. You can share a room with your partner and each can attend. Many programs overlap and we will spend time with both the readers and writers.
Will the IRR be held in English?
Yes, the program will be held in English.
If I’m with the Iceland Readers Retreat can I attend a writing workshop too?
If you are attending the Iceland Readers Retreat you cannot attend a writing workshop. There are many parts of the program that overlap and you will get a chance to hear from the faculty at the welcome dinner and at the final day Q&A panel.
If I’m with IWR can I hear the talks given by IRR faculty?
The Iceland Readers Retreat programs (talk by IRR faculty, Icelandic author panel, and museum tour) are only for IRR participants.
Will I get to meet the IRR faculty if I’m with IWR?
The IRR featured author will participate in the opening night reading and the final Q&A session.