There’s a peculiar beauty in the way people from different lands celebrate the one long day on all of earth. It’s three days until the summer solstice, folks. And we bring you the most eclectic and earthy summer solstice festivals from around the world. From England’s neo-pagan rituals to Alaska’s beard contests, we’ve covered it all.
1. Stonehenge Summer Solstice
When: June 18 to 21, 2015
Where: Wiltshire, England
Every year, at the height of the considerably tame English summer, comes a festival/gathering of Druids, new age believers and hippies gather around and recite ancient hymns and rites in circles, while drummers play their tribal beats giving a sense of rhythm to the gathering to celebrate the summer solstice by watching the sunrise on June 21st. The celebrations start the night prior to the sunrise, that also happens to be the shortest night of the year. The Stonehenge is a popular gathering site in general, which is why Neopagans or Guardians of Stonehenge allow worshippers from everywhere to come and pay homage on what is supposed to be the most auspicious day of the year.
2. Secret Solstice Festival
When: June 19-21, 2015
Following the success of 2014’s debut, Secret Solstice will return to Reykjavik, Iceland, from June 19-21, 2015. Due to being held over the summer solstice weekend and longest days of the year in Iceland, this means the sun never ever fully sets, giving a spectacular natural backdrop and a 24 hour daylight energy like no other. Moodymann, KiNK, Erol Alkan, Route 94, Daniel Avery, Submotion Orchestra, Zero 7, and many more underground music geniuses will be performing at the festival. Check out the full line-up HERE.
3. The Summer Solstice Orgy
When: Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto
Where: June 21
Trinity Bellwoods Park is no stranger to Bacchanalia, which it’s proven by planning an orgy for the summer solstice. Almost 1,000 people had RSVP’d to the event on Facebook, which was recently deleted by Facebook itself. The event is organized by the mysterious but bureaucratic-sounding Trinity Bellwoods Orgy Committee. The Star reached out to the committee on Facebook, and although they refused to identify themselves, a person did respond from the committee’s account “The contemporary reality of city life is that we have never been so alone despite be [sic] surrounded by so many people,” wrote a person claiming to represent the committee. “An orgy requires that people engage each other, even as strangers, to work properly. It reacquaints us with not only intimacy itself, but the rules of engagement of intimacy.”
4. Jāņi Festival
When: June 23 & 24
Jāņi Festival is one of the biggest Latvian festivals, celebrating their deep rooted Pagan culture and traditions. This festival commences two days after the actual summer solstice because of the Latvians’ association with John The Baptist Feast Day. Jāņi is a time when the Latvians celebrate and embrace nature and as a homage to their Pagan culture, perform celebratory rituals with fire as an essential element. Country houses are decorated with rowan branches and thorns, women wear flower wreaths while men wear oak leaf ones and there is bounty and mirth wherever there can be.
5. Downtown Summer Solstice Festival
When: June 20
Where: Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, and so it should come as no surprise that the summer solstice is kind of a big deal. Anchorage’s Summer Solstice Festival packs the downtown’s Town Square for live music, a beer garden, and even an intriguing beard contest. Always a haven for DIY-ers, many Alaskans prefer to hike up on mountains and hills and ring in the sunset with music-making and campfires for a good view of the longest day of the year. Folks, even if you can’t make it there for the summer solstice this year, remember that the essential elements are all there – the sun, your oftimes annoying best friends, nature, food, revelry… and perhaps a flower crown or two.