The first Moorland International Children’s and Youth Literature Festival was held in the autumn of 2001 and was called Cat in the Moorland. The festival was a success, leading the organisational committee to go forward with a second festival, with the aim of making this a biennial event as a counterpoint of The Reykjavik International Literature Festival, which is also held biennially. From the start, the focus has been on the festival being international and authors and scholars have come from the Nordic countries, European countries including Great Britain, Germany, France, Poland and the Baltic countries, and from the United States and Canada.
The association responsible for the festival is called Mýrin. It has representatives from IBBY Iceland, SÍUNG (Association of Children’s Book Writers in Iceland), The Writer’s Union of Iceland, The University of Iceland, Reykjavík City Library and the Nordic House.
It has become a tradition to name the festival after the Moorland (Vatnsmýri) where the Nordic House stands. Each festival has a special focus point or a theme. The festivals were named: Cat in the Moorland (2001), Magic in the Moorland (2004), Kids in the Moorland (2006), Ghosts in the Moorland (2008), Pictures in the Moorland (2010), Food in the Moorland (2012), Peacock in the Moorland (2014), In the Moorland (2016) and In the Moorland – The North (2018). The tenth festival Together in the Moorland has been postponed from 8-11 October 2020 until 14-16 October 2021.
The festival programme is diverse, with participation of authors and scholars from Iceland and abroad. Among different events are:
- Panels and literary programmes at the Nordic House
- Author talks and discussions
- Lectures by literary scholars
- Exhibitions and workshops
- Culture programme according to the theme