Known as the Summer Solstice, June 21st marks the official start of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere with the longest day of the year – regarding hours of sunlight. For centuries, this day has been celebrated all across the globe with rituals, parties, dances, and more
From bonfires in Austria to boat races in China, here are five of the best places in the world where you can spend your next Summer Solstice and make the best of the longest day of the year.
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to spend the Summer Solstice. The Secret Solstice Music Festival in Reykjavik is a three-day music festival to celebrate the Midnight Sun with a blend of A-list and local artists playing electronic, rock, hip-hop, reggae, and local folk music, among others.
This is 72 hours of sunlight and non-stop partying, so make sure you have enough energy to see it all!
Beyond partying, you can take advantage of the long days – only three hours of night – to see the most you can of Iceland.
Stonehenge has always been cloaked in mystery. Was it a burial site, a calendar, a place for ceremonies? It is still unclear what was the purpose of the ancient site, but one thing is clear; during the Summer Solstice, the sun rises perfectly aligned to the stone circle.
While the historic site can only be visited with paid admission year round, on June 21st, Stonehenge is free of charge to allow visitors to celebrate the moment as a day of rebirth in pagan and druid cultures and to greet the longest day of the year as the sun rises – around 4:50 am.
Just 4.5 miles from the stones is a campsite, aptly named Stonehenge Campsite, where you can celebrate a four-day festival with music, food, drinks, and yoga workshops. This campground gets full well ahead of time, so make sure you reserve your spot to join the celebration.
As one of the most important events of the year in Sweden and one of the most popular Summer Solstice celebrations in the world, the Midsummer’s Eve is a day rooted in pagan rituals of decadent indulgence that you can’t miss. In fact, tourists and Swedes love this day so much that is it now a national holiday. Flower crowns, drinking, and dancing around the Maypole are the order of the day, so make sure you’re up to party on and frog-jump around the Maypole with all your energy.
While the day is celebrated all over the country, one of the best places to celebrate it at the Skansen Museum in Stockholm. While very accessible, it keeps the traditional roots of the celebration with folk music and its famous Maypole revelry.
This celebration almost looks like something taken out of a Lord of the Rings book or ancient story. Well, the lighting of mountain fires to mark the solstice is actually a tradition that dates back to medieval times. Back then, the native tribes used the fires to worship Earth while twirling and singing around it.
Today, you can hike or take the cable cars up the mountains to participate in the celebration while admiring the view of the surrounding mountains (the Alps!) – also lit with bonfires. This celebration happens all over Austria, but the best place to experience it is in the mountains of the Wilder Kaiser region of Tyrol.
The Duanwu Festival, also often known as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a traditional summer solstice celebration all across China. It commemorates fealty and filial piety. While it is a summer solstice celebration, it doesn’t necessarily fall right on the summer solstice day as it is based on the Chinese Calendar. The festival now starts on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar.
China’s three-day Dragon Boat Festival dates back 2,000 years and still draws huge crowds every single year. As the name implies, there is a series of dragon boat races to display the masculinity associated with the sun and the dragon.
For us, visitors, we can enjoy watching the race while eating zongzi, drinking realgar wine –the traditional food served during the festivities– as well as everything else including street food and local beers.
Where else would you go to celebrate the longest day of the year?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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