So you’re thinking of going to Fanfest 2020. Or maybe you’ve already got your tickets and you’ve never been before. Either way, it’s the biggest EVE meetup there is in one of the most unique countries you’ll find anywhere. You’ll never forget the friends you’ll make or the things you’ll see, even if it’s just playing Secret Hitler with Exooki on pilfered foam blocks in Harpa.
This article is essentially a 2020 version of CCP Darwin’s fantastic ‘Visiting Iceland’ Google Doc, although I’d highly suggest you check that out too. We’re aiming to cover everything you need to know for your trip from accommodation, to food, to travel, and to Fanfest itself without becoming unbearably long. This has been produced by Ashy of Ashyin.Space and Ben, second in command of Foxholers. Big thanks to CCP Spider and the Community team in checking to make sure our Iceland advice makes sense.
What Actually Happens at Fanfest?…
To put it simply, Fanfest is three days of EVE presentations, roundtables, and partying like you’re on top of the world. This year it takes place from Thursday – Saturday between April 2nd and 4th, culminating in a massive party headlined by Hatari! Some of the previous years’ acts have been FM Belfast, Booka shade, Basshunter, & HAM.
Really, it’s more than just partying, though. I’ve already said that it’s all about the friends that you meet and that’s entirely true. All this is hosted within Iceland’s awesome (and newly renovated) Harpa Conference Centre and Concert Hall. (How to get there) The days may be filled with fun at Fanfest itself, but you’ve still got several nights to enjoy at EVE house parties, meals, and pub crawls around Reykjavik.
Speaking of pub crawls, CCP hosts one each year. The format has changed slightly over the years, but the idea remains the same. You’re assigned to a group with dev(s) and will take a trip together to the 101 downtown area of Reykjavik for drinking and all sorts of shenanigans. There may or may not also be extra events like Viking fighting and something to do with horses… Note that you must be at least 20 years old to attend
There’s also a charity dinner which you can look into attending. I’ve never been personally, but it’s a three-course meal with devs in support of the Reykjavik University Children’s Hospital (Barnaspítali Hringsins). The Eventbrite page mentions using this as your chance to wine and dine with CCP’s CEO, but if you’re like me you’ll just grab him and talk enough until he takes a selfie with you (love ya Hilmar!).
One more special event to be aware of is the Spouse Program. This is an ‘alternative’ ticket that your non-EVE playing spouse can purchase. It includes all sorts of fun activities during the Fanfest Friday from meeting Icelandic goats to a geothermal spa visit at Krauma. Have you ever wanted to pet Icelandic goats? I know I do. Better still, there’s an invitation to join in at Fanfest on Saturday and the Party at the Top of the World.
There are plenty more details on Eventbrite itself and on CCP’s site, but I can vouch that it’s a hell of a lot of fun and one of the best events I’ve ever attended. I recommend booking a few extra nights before to explore Reyjavik if this is your first time. Fanfest is busy af 😀
And What About Accommodation & Travel?
Airbnb – This is an easy one, but you’ve got to be quick. The good priced apartments are booked up fast, and we’ve personally got room for six at £29/night each. Remember that most of your time will probably be spent out at Harpa itself.
Perhaps even easier, but with quite the price range. Centerhotels offer discounts with this link and the code EVEFAN20 if you book soon. You can also try Hótel Ísland, although that is a little further away.
For ultimate convenience, the Hotel Arnarhvoll is a literal stones’ throw from Harpa. Boasting great rooms, a wicked bar and a decent restaurant you can’t go wrong. The price does, however, reflect this.
Finally, Hotel Cabin is on the budget end of the possible hotel choices, however now fanfest has moved away from Laugardalsholl Sport Center, (my first Fanfest was here! Bring back the agent missions! – Ben) to Harpa it’s a bit out the way. However, for the price is a strong contender and perfectly acceptable place to sleep. Plus the walk is along the coast and offers stunning views for you the entire time!
Hotel Cabin over the dates Foxholers will be in Iceland (31st March to 6th April) will run you £348 / $444 / €409 / 56,421 ISK, and the Arnarhvoll will see you the best part of £813 / $1048 / €958.00 / 131,900 ISK (both based on twin rooms inc. breakfast)
Flights & Transfer
If flying from the UK the best Airports (in terms of cost/Accessibility) are Luton (LTN) and Manchester (MAN). Both Easyjet and Icelandair fly from these locations, and in 99% of cases will be the cheapest (based on direct flights, at semi/sociable times). Flight times are typically 2h 45m. The other possible airports to choose are Birmingham International (BHX), however, they are typically more expensive.
Direct flights are also available from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Thanks Steve.
Flights will be to Keflavik (KEF), as Reykjavik airport is for Domestic/light aircraft only. This will mean organising a transfer from KEF to your accommodation. There are a couple of options, though do keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for getting back to Keflavik airport, too.
- Taxi – Typical cost about £124 / $160 / €125 / 15,000 ISK and will take you 35/40 minutes, dropping you right to your door.
- Flybus – Typical cost about £40 / $52 / €48 / 6,500 ISK and will take you 45/50 minutes. However, it will likely drop you at the central bus station.
- Grayline – Another airport transfer service from €21 each way
- CCP Partybus – CCP sometimes hires out a bus which is sent to pick up attendees from KEF. See the linked Google Sheet for details
- Hire Car – The ultimate in flexibility. Pick up/drop off in multiple locations with choices to suit any budget. Just make sure to get gravel protection and sand storm protection if you can. Some places won’t offer that at all, though. If you’re flying over with 3-4 others, a car can save you a lot of money. Don’t expect to use it around town, though; Reykjavik is small and parking can be expensive.
Try Blue Car Rental for a decent price, good coverage and convenient pickup/drop off locations (have used these a few times over my Fanfest career – Ben)
Only take a little bit of cash, enough to tide you over for a day or so (~£100 / $130 / €120 / 16,000 ISK). The ATM’s give a great exchange rate (GBP to ISK) and most, if not all places accept debit/credit cards. Do also be aware that tipping is not common practice in Iceland. Pay the bill you’re given and you’re good. More on actual full-trip costs later.
As CCP Darwin stated in his doc, the currency is Icelandic Krónur and you’ll get silly looks if you pronounce or abbreviate ‘ISK’ in a shop. I have a sneaky suspicion that shopkeepers have a bingo card for hearing weird stuff from EVE players each year. Speaking of shops, though, try to avoid 1011 supermarkets if possible as they tend to be a bit more expensive. Shops like Bonus tend to be better value for general groceries and the like.
Fanfest Etiquette and Tips (What to Do)
- Shower. Holy hell PLEASE shower. It may be somewhat of a meme that gaming conventions are full of sweaty nerds, but let’s keep it that way a’ight?
- Talk to people! You’ve all got a common interest in EVE and this is a good a chance as any to just find someone and talk about their time in EVE or at Fanfest. I promise this is one of the best ways to make new friends.
- On that last point, don’t be afraid to approach your favourite Dev at the venue for a chat. They’re here for you. Go tell them about your biggest fight, maybe they helped design the mechanics that made it possible.
- Get to roundtables early if you want a spot. They fill up fast, especially when they’re hosted in the Icelandic equivalent of a broom closet.
- Stay hydrated during your stay. The temptation to drink only alcohol is real, but I promise you’ll save your wallet and your liver by drinking a lot of water too.
- There’s EVE Merch store! This is your best chance to get some loot
- Visit the silent auction for your chance to bag some really unique goodies.
- Explore Iceland. If you get bored then go sightseeing in the city or perhaps even further.
- Follow CCP’s Event Code of Conduct
How to Ruin Fanfest (What Not to Do)
- Iceland tends to follow a ZERO TOLERANCE approach to drink driving, don’t do it!
- Read up on Icelandic driving laws before you go. E.g. you need to keep headlights on at all times and the inside of a roundabout has priority.
- Smoking is not allowed in Public Buildings, Pubs, Restaurants etc.
- Whale based products may be purchased in Iceland, however, they are illegal to import into the UK!
- We recommend buying your alcohol for the trip in duty-free but pay attention to Icelandic alcohol import laws. Use this calculator to make sure you don’t buy too much.
- CCP Devs are just people too and want to enjoy the event like the rest of you, despite their Non-Disclosure Agreements and employment at CCP. Don’t do anything creepy like visiting their homes or following them around.
- Don’t stick stickers all over Harpa. I’ll confess that I’m guilty of placing a couple last time and I felt like an idiot afterwards. Harpa is a famous convention centre and concert hall for many more people than just you!
- Likewise, don’t steal flags/capes/things you can find etc. If you do find something misplaced then be an adult and take it to someone who looks important and get it to lost & found.
- Leave your rivalries at the door. As I’ve always said, we’re all just humans at the end of the day. Nobody wants to see a fight break out because that guy stole your Rattlesnake.
- CCP office tours aren’t something you’re going to be able to just walk in on because you’re in the country, least of all during Fanfest. It takes a lot of work to wipe CCP Fozzie’s next big plan off the whiteboards. As such CCP decided it was best to shut down their offices for the time being.
What is there to see?
Before visiting the places below, you might want to consider a Reykjavik City Card. You’ll also be able to obtain much more information from their booklets for a comprehensive view of the city. Topping all of these, though, we also have CCP Explorer’s Google Map. It’s from 2018, but should be mostly up to date.
- Geysir – Fancy geothermal park. You can get right up to the geyser and get soaked by it!
- Gullfoss – One of Iceland’s best waterfalls. Endorsed by Suitonia 😉
- Blue Lagoon – Tourist Trap, but for good reason. The most popular geothermal pools and spa in Iceland.
- Nauthólsvík – Less touristy geothermal beach in Reykjavik. Have and dip in the Sea, it’s COLD AF
- The Aurora Borealis – Check out the forecast at the NOAA or the Icelandic Met Office.
- The Golden Circle – More about this later
- EVE Online Monument – Look for your name on this page.
- Sun Voyager – A lovely sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason
- The Phallological Museum – Uhhhhh, yes. It’s a penis museum.
- The Saga Museum – Mostly around the history of Iceland, should be interesting.
- The Perlan Museum – A nature exploratorium.
What & Where to Eat & Drink:
- The English bar – Beer Wheel!
- Frederiksen Beer House – Einstöck beer flight!
- Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – Best hotdog on a drunken night!
- Eldsmidjan – Great pizza
- Hamborgarabúllan – Great burgers
- Kiki Queer Bar – Iceland is very LGBT friendly
- Magic Ice Bar – Because I’ve been asked if one exists ;D Smoke is gay
- Reykjavik Fish – Some of the best Fish & Chips to be found!
- Laundromat Cafe – Great Cup of Tea, and nice food. May have changed since previous visits.
- Röntgen Bar – New and promising little bar.
- Bryggjan Brugghús – Final stop of 2018’s pub crawl with good music and good drinks. Right next to the EVE Monument.
Note: Supermarkets don’t sell alcohol… unless you like 1% low alcohol beer. You can pick up the proper stuff at a Vínbúðin such as the one at Austurstræti 10a in downtown Reykjavik. Opening hours are between approx 11:00-18:00 and a bottle of decent Scotch is about 5,000 ISK. I personally recommend giving Brennivin a go if you can get it ice cold.
What is The Golden Circle?
The typical tourist thing to do in Iceland gets you access to see Gullfoss, Geysir plus Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, all from the comfort of your own tour bus. If this is the first time you have set foot in Iceland and are looking for some direction on what to do, you cannot go wrong here. Having been on the tour myself once with CCP and another couple of times driving myself (-Ben), the sights you get to see are worth it, hands down.
Gullfoss is a spectacular moving wall of water that falls 32m, flowing between 105m3/sec to 140m3 typically. The paths around the fall will get you up close and personal with this natural wonder.
Geysir is my (Ben) favourite part of the golden circle. A natural Hot Spring that fires a column of water 30m into the air. But you can get right up to the pool the eruption comes from. Being able to get this close and experience nature at its most raw is a memory that will last a lifetime.
The route is popular with tourists and as such is well serviced with toilets, vendors for food/gifts, and parking for cars/coaches. You can book a day out with CCP this year from this link. It’ll be happening on Wednesday 1st April, the day before Fanfest. (I will be going some other time and using Fanfest to meet people and drink -Ashy).
What to Pack & Weather Conditions:
The weather changes faster than a Nestor popping its MJD to get out of non-consensual PvP – Wormholer BTW. Regardless, you should be able to get away with one good-sized carryon plus ‘personal item’ if you pack right. It’s always going to depend on where you’re from, but being an English woman I felt like a light jacket was just fine last year and I didn’t get much use out of a big heavy coat. Go with many light layers rather than one thick one and focus on clothing that will better resist the wind. I would suggest that if you get too cold then use it as an excuse to buy some nice Icelandic clothing.
Make sure to bring a nice hat, and maybe a scarf if you’re worried about the cold. If you plan on going swimming at any of the hot springs (or the ocean, like Foxholers) then bring a swimsuit and towel for sure. It’s unlikely that you’ll need special snow boots unless you plan on heading out to the glaciers. Sensible shoes are always better though (and who even like stilettos anyway?) It should all be common sense, just don’t overpack. You want to bring home lots of goodies, right?
Keep an eye on the weather here or here.
Safetravel.is is also useful for driving out of town.
For your electronics, it’s the standard fare. Iceland uses a type F socket with a 230V AC supply at 50Hz so Google it! The Americans out there want to be particularly careful as your voltage and frequency both differ. This can cause damage to US device circuits or you may find that devices which utilise that frequency in their mechanism act differently. A US plug-in clock, for example, could run slower in Iceland.
One last thing is that there is a cloakroom at Harpa. I personally wasn’t sure the first time and didn’t know what to wear on the first day. You WILL be able to dump your bag and coat in a little room and pick them up later. Use this as a chance to store the swag bag and whatever else you might buy or be given (like Quafe!).
Typical Costs (Non-CCP Package):
For a six-day trip so you can get the most of Iceland without being rushed. Figures are based roughly on what we are paying and what you might want to budget for, but not necessarily spend.
|Travel & Parking at Airport||£50||Budget for fuel/parking/public transport|
|Flights||£200||UK to Iceland return without luggage|
|Transfer to Reykjavik||£150||Cheaper if you can car share|
|Accommodation||£175-600||Depends on hotels vs AirBnB and if you are staying with others|
|Fanfest Tickets||£155||Plus any extra events you want to attend|
|Food & Drink||£300-400||The city can be expensive so be careful, especially with alcohol.|
Total: £1,100 // €1,300 // $1,400 // 180,000 ISK. These prices can reasonably come down to as low as perhaps £650 + Fanfest Ticket depending on if you can share costs for a hire car and AirBnB. Staying in a hotel and flying from an expensive part of the US is going to easily launch these prices skywards so watch out!
Hopefully, this guide has given you a bit of a better idea of what to do and how much things are going to cost. There’s plenty more to explore, though, so have a dig through some of the more formal travel sites, too. I’ve already said that Iceland is lovely and Reykjavik is a beautiful little city; you’ll have a great time no matter what you do. You’re going to meet so many great people if you go alone, but going with space friends is something else entirely. Meeting those fleet mates finally after so many years is the best feeling ever.
If you find any inaccuracies or mistakes in this guide then please, as always, let me know. You can do so either by comments right here, or by messaging me on Twitter @Ashypaws.