Centenary of Icelandic independence and sovereignty

Centenary of Icelandic independence and sovereignty

– the people’s celebration!

Iceland became a free and sovereign state on 1 December 1918, when the Union Treaty with Denmark came into effect. That day may be seen as one of the most important landmarks in Iceland’s campaign for self-determination, which had then been in progress for nearly a century.

In 2017 the Alþingi (parliament) passed a resolution on how the centenary of Icelandic independence and sovereignty was to be celebrated – with the emphasis on culture and language, and with wide participation by the people of Iceland. On 18 July 2018 the Alþingi will commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Union Treaty on that date in 1918, with a celebratory session at Þingvellir, Iceland’s ancient parliamentary site. The Union Treaty was approved by the Alþingi on 9 September 1918, and the decision was confirmed by the people in a referendum on 19 October. The Union Treaty  took effect on 1 December 1918. The parliamentary session on 18 July at Þingvellir will be televised live. The centenary of Sovereignty Day will be celebrated on 1 December all over Iceland, with extensive TV and radio coverage.

 Centenary programme planned in collaboration with the people of Iceland

The programme of the centenary year began on 1 January 2018 when a new short documentary film about Icelandic sovereignty 1918-2018 was premiered. The film tells the story of of Iceland’s campaign for self-determination, focussing on the huge step forward taken in 1918 when Iceland became a sovereign nation. The film can be viewed here on this website in Icelandic,  Danish and English. The centenary is being celebrated throughout 2018 with a diverse range of commemorative events all over the country.

In late 2017 the people of Iceland were asked to contribute to planning celebrations during the centenary year. The focus is on a diverse range of high-quality events with relevance to what is being celebrated – whether past, present or future. The programme embraces all aspects of society – education, culture, sciences, health, politics, economic development, communications, transport and daily life in Iceland. A hundred events were selected for the centenary year programme, and in early December 2017 that selection was made public.

The programme is constantly changing and evolving from day to day: throughout the year new events can be added to the programme here on the centenary website . The events on the centenary programme now number nearly 300, and more are always being added.

The centenary of Icelandic sovereignty on 1 December 2018 will be celebrated all over the country. The Icelandic government is planning a programme that is being developed in collaboration with young people, reflecting their interests and their ideas about the future of sovereignty. The campaign for self-determination in the 21st century will be the leading theme of artists, designers, scholars and scientists who contribute to the festivities with a range of works and events. In Reykjavík the nation’s leading cultural bodies will be holding art- and culture-related events, and there will also be events in every region of the country. Iceland will be looking ahead to the next 100 years, equipped with the lessons learned over the past century.  

Let’s celebrate 100 years of sovereignty together

The centenary programme spans huge variety of events, and the centenary committee hopes that everyone will find something to suit them, and that Icelanders and our guests from abroad will join together to celebrate the centenary of Icelandic independence and sovereignty. Now we have an opportunity to stop and think: to look back and recall what has been achieved in Iceland in the past century, and look to the future. Many of the events on the centenary programme look ahead, presenting the young generation’s refreshing and creative visions of the future.

Would you like a weekly update of the centenary year programme?

The centenary year website fullveldi1918.is is regularly updated as new events are added. Don’t miss out – sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, with details of each week’s events. 

Follow us on Facebook!

The centenary year programme is publicised on social media, with reports on preparations for events and the events themselves. Go to the centenary year Facebook page here. 

Memories to treasure – #fullveldi1918

Are you organising a centenary year event? Or are you taking part, or attending an event? Tag your photos with #fullveldi1918  and help us build up a store of treasured memories from the centenary year.


Greeting from the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Read Greeting from the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Sovereignty for us all

Read Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Einar K. Guðfinnsson

Centenary programme in the hands of the people


Read Einar K. Guðfinnsson