Reykjavik has not experienced lava flows since the Elliðaárdalur lava field was formed some 4800 years ago. But now visitors of all ages can enjoy red-hot molten lava in a safe environment by visiting Lava Show's new experience.
For the first time in almost 5000 years, lava is flowing in the city center of Reykjavik. Reykjavik has not experienced lava flows since the Elliðaárdalur lava field was formed some 4800 years ago, now a historic landmark and popular hiking trails.
As of now, however, visitors of all ages can enjoy red-hot molten lava in a safe environment by visiting Lava Show's new experience in the Grandi Harbour District in downtown Reykjavík.
The Lava Show opened its doors in Reykjavík on the 10th of November of this year. This unique Lava Show, the first of its kind in the world, first opened in Vík on the South Coast of Iceland in 2018.
The show recreates a volcanic eruption by heating real lava up to 1100 degrees Celsius (2000° Fahrenheit) and then pouring it into a showroom where the audience sits. This experience makes it possible for everyone to get up close to real molten lava in a safe and controlled environment and learn a thing or two about Icelandic geology in the process.
The founders of the Lava Show are husband and wife, Júlíus Ingi Jónsson and Ragnhildur Ágústdóttir, who were inspired by the volcanic eruption at Fimmvörðuháls that they witnessed in the spring of 2010 and its incredible 200m (600 feet) high lava fall.
“Witnessing this eruption was unforgettable, and we immediately started thinking how we could recreate this experience in a safe environment and make it available to as many people as possible. It took us years to figure out how and it was not until 2018, that we finally opened the Lava Show in Vík,” says Jónsson in a press release.
Dream come true
Since opening in Vík, it has been a dream for the couple to branch out and open an additional exhibition in Reykjavík.
“We now have a showroom in Vík and Reykjavík, two Lava Shows that are independent of each other but work great together as well. We are thrilled to bring this remarkable display of molten lava to the capital city of Iceland,” says Ágústdóttir.
In the few years the Lava Show has been operational, it has been a well visited attraction in Iceland, according to the couple. The show has also been acknowledged with local and international awards.
Grants and awards
In 2016, the Lava Show was among the winners in the Golden Egg competition, the largest entrepreneurship contest in Iceland and was picked out of hundreds of applicants to be one of ten participants in the Startup Reykjavik startup accelerator the same year.
Since then, the Lava Show has received several innovation grants, been awarded the prestigious Travel Industry Entrepreneur Award in Iceland in 2021 and in 2022, the founders received the international Global Wiin Award.
As one can imagine, no ordinary furnace can handle melting lava. A custom-made furnace is used by the Lava Show in its Reykjavík showroom, which was designed by a company known for making rocket components for SpaceX and Blue Origin. The power source for the furnace is also quite interesting.
“Sustainability is very important to us and we use environmentally friendly methods to heat up the lava. The energy source is methane gas, produced from organic waste by the local garbage company. We are literally heating up the lava with rotten banana peels,” Jónsson says proudly and Ágústdóttir adds:
This is very green lava.
“We also recycle the lava that we use between shows and use the excess heat from the furnace to heat up the entire building. This is very green lava.”
The Lava Show not only offers an epic volcanic display with flowing lava, but also provides extensive knowledge and trivia about Icelandic geology and volcanoes, presented in a fun and understandable way.
“We want this to be the most entertaining geology lesson in the world,” says Júlíus Jónsson, and adds:
“I think we have nailed it!”