The summer solstice has been a significant date, 21st June here in the Northern hemisphere, across the world for thousands of years. It’s no surprise then that it is still celebrated every year in many places to this day. But where is the best place to enjoy it? Here are a few of the top spots in Europe where you can celebrate the solstice this summer.
The solstice is a big deal in Norway. Head to any town or city in the country and you will be able to join in with some form of celebration. However, the festivities are not only connected with the longest day: June 24 marks the birthday of St John the Baptist, and parties are held across the country on June 23, known as Sankthansaften.
One of the best places to visit is Grimstad, a picturesque seaside village where the festival goes on all night. Also worth visiting is Hammerfest, the most northern town in Europe, where you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible spectacle of 24-hour daylight.
People often think of Newgrange when they think of the solstice, but this impressive passage tomb near Dublin, which dating back over 5,000 years, is actually designed for the winter solstice on December 21 where the tomb aligns with the sunrise.
A better option is Carrowkeel, near Sligo, Megalithic Cemetery in the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo which consists of 14 tombs. It is 700 years older than Newgrange, and on the summer solstice the sun comes in through the roofbox of Cairn G to illuminate the chamber. It may be smaller than Newgrange but the experience is very unique.
Not much needs to be said about Stonehenge, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world which dates back to 2,500 BC. But if you want to experience a truly mystical celebration of the summer solstice then you can join the crowds to watch the Heel Stone align with the sunrise. Sometimes as many as 30,000 people attend so you certainly won’t have it all to yourself, but it is a very special celebration – and a great party.
Spain also celebrates the birthday of St John the Baptist in the Festival de Sant Joan, also known as the Verbenas de Sant Joan, La Revetlla de Sant Joan and various other names. The best place to experience this is throughout Catalonia, and especially Barcelona, where on June 23 lots of drinking, dancing and fireworks form part of the celebrations. Fire has been associated with the solstice for centuries, and to mark this bonfires are lit in the streets creating an intense and exciting atmosphere.
Experience the Summer Solstice Across Europe
There are plenty of places to visit in Europe if you want to celebrate the summer solstice, so take your pick from the above locations. Whether you join the crowds at Stonehenge or head to Spain for some fiery celebrations, make sure you mark the solstice in style.