A report from the 2023 Heystfagnaður

Written by Martin Kristoffur Kristiansen. Translated from the original article in Faroese.

Heystfagnaður is an annual festival that celebrates everything Faroese relating to Autumnal activities and traditions.  The following is a first-person report from the Saturday of Heystfagnaður 2023.

Saturday is the main day of any Heystfagnaður festival and the schedule is packed with various activities.

The clock has just passed 1 pm as I make my way to the main festival area. The main stage catches the attention of the many attendees who have braved the cold this afternoon, their eyes fixed on the yarn winding competition which is in full swing. The boat houses in the harbour area are well decorated for the festival, and a positive spirit lies in the air. Everyone seems to be in the Heystfagnaður spirit.

Walking around the main festival area, it’s as if there is something new wherever you look, and there are plenty of opportunities for purchasing food and drink.

One of the novelty food items this year was the deep-fried sheep testicles, or “Lamb Fries”, to give the dish its culinary, and frankly more appealing term. They were provided by Faroese chef and media personality Gutti Winther, in cooperation with local 7th-grade pupils. When asked how they liked this item, most patrons responded positively, with one comparing the texture to that of “lippur”. The chin meat of a cod. A Faroese delicacy.

The crowd looks on as the sheep slaughter competition progresses. 

Eventually, the crowd sets up on the main stage once again, where one of the main events of the festival, the sheep slaughtering competition, is about to begin. There is excitement in the air, as the competitors enter the stage, and the judges explain the rules. Cleanliness of the slaughter counts for a large percentage of points total, and 40 % of the total is allocated to time management. After two rounds, it’s time for the final. The eventual winner was Eivindur Eyðunsson from the village of Trøllanes.

Sprinkled throughout the day are a few concerts aimed at children and adults alike, with the main attraction being Dynamitt, a very popular Faroese band that never fails to get the crowd going. This time was no exception, as they crowd sang along to their many hits.

Earlier in the week, the festival organisers held a dance class for anyone interested. This was to get people dancing on the final event of this saturday, namely the big dance in the Hólmahús event hall. A fitting end to the 10th annual festival.