Happy first day of fall!
Iceland celebrates the arrival of autumn with the ancient farming tradition of réttir. During this annual event sheep and horse farmers band together and set off on horseback to gather their flocks. The sheep and horses have been roaming free in the highlands and grazing on green grass all summer long.
The flocks are identified by their earmarks and sorted into pens according the farmer they belong to. This entertaining process can take up to a week as the sheep population in Iceland is more than double the human population. There are over 800,000 sheep in Iceland in a country with only 330,000 citizens.
The entire farming community gets involved in the lively herding action including every family member, even children who love chasing the sheep. The activity is not reserved exclusively for Icelanders. Visitors are welcome to join in and tour operators such as Icelandic Farm Holidays and Laxnes Horse Farm offer réttir tours where participants ride along on horseback. Fall is a wonderful time of year to discover Iceland’s backcountry in places like Skagafjörður, the traditional heart of horse breeding in the north.
Sheep and horse herding has been around in Iceland for centuries and there are over 200 réttir events located throughout the country. Réttir is a major event on the farming calendar and culminates with a large celebration of Icelanders dancing, drinking and singing traditional farming songs late into the autumn evening
To find a réttir event near you, Trip Creator has developed an interactive map that shows all the various locations where the round-ups take place. When you click on the map marker you can view date and times. You can also search by date which is very convenient for travelers. Although in Icelandic, you can also see réttir dates and locations on bbl.is.
So don’t be sheepish! Join in on the fun of réttir and discover rural Iceland during the colorful fall season.