10 interesting summer solstice traditions from around the world

Summer solstice traditions- bonfire celebration

10 interesting summer solstice traditions from around the world

The summer solstice occurs on the 21st of June and is an important day for everyone around the world as it’s the longest day of the year. This means that everyone has the longest amount of daylight, and it marks the beginning of summer. There are many ways to celebrate this day and enjoy the outdoors and many hours of daylight. All over the world people come together to celebrate through traditions old and new.

Discover how the world enjoys the solstice with our 10 interesting summer solstice traditions from around the world. Share with your pupils to show the importance of the summer solstice and how different cultures celebrate.


Stonehenge UK- Watching sunrise

Stonehenge is a popular summer solstice tradition for the UK as it is designed to showcase the ascending light of the solstice. However, sunrise is when the magic happens at Stonehenge as it aligns with a circle carved into the stone. Many people go to see this wonder early in the morning to celebrate the start of the longest day.

Stonehenge is still a mystery to this day and to see this magical moment when the sunrise hits the circle is a great experience. It really shows off the architectural wonder of the mysterious Stonehenge.


Spain- bonfires and festival of St Joan

When midsummer comes along Spain typically celebrates through bonfires and firework displays. In Spain they also light special beacons too as a way to bring the start of summer in. The solstice is tied to feelings of belonging in Spain and also marks the path to adulthood for adolescents.

Spain tends to mix Christian culture and pagan ritual when it comes to summer solstice celebrations. This is shown through the festival of St Joan that occur in Barcelona, Menorca and other Catalan speaking regions.


USA- all day yoga and summer solstice parade

Due to the size of the USA, there are many summer solstice traditions that take place across the country. One of the most popular traditions is the all-day yoga event that occurs in times square, New York. This event involves hundreds of yoga lovers come together to practice all throughout the day.

Another popular tradition for the USA occurs in Santa Barbara which is the summer solstice parade. The parade has a different theme every year to excite everyone to participate and kickstart the summer in a fun way.


France- Fete de la musique

One of the most popular traditions that is known around the world is La Fete de la Musique in France. All across the country from cities to small villages, people in France take to the streets to play music or enjoy the musician’s work. Anyone with a passion for music can participate from soloists, groups, instrumental musicians and acapella singers. The only rule to the day is people participating should find a spot that doesn’t compete with any other musician. Crowds of people celebrate the start of summer enjoying the long hours of daylight and listening to various music throughout towns, cities and villages.

Fete de la Musique started off the worldwide celebration that is known as world music day. It coincides on the same day as France’s summer tradition and so has become a worldwide version of the festival. Get your pupils involved in music and celebrating the solstice and world music day with our percussion instruments.


Russia- Ivan Kupala

After a long harsh winter, Russia have the best reason to celebrate the summer solstice. A few days after the longest day, an event called Ivan Kupala occurs. This is traditionally in early July when the celebrations start. A sculpture is created out of plants and grass that is later burned to make sure that the summer will be great for harvest.

On the solstice, it is tradition for children to have water fights and throw water at passerby’s too. This is a way to celebrate good weather away from the dark and dull winter that Russia encounters.


Summer solstice traditions- stonehenge sunrise in the circle




Iceland- Secret solstice

Iceland have a unique and fun way to bring summer in which has occurred for the past five years. It is another country that has difficult and very cold winters so their summer celebrations are very important. People come together to party at a musical event called secret solstice which happens in Reykjavik. Musicians from all over the country and world are a part of the lineup. Previously, the festival had a tour of an ancient lava tunnel and partygoers were invited to celebrate inside a giant glacier.


Austria- bonfires

Austria celebrates the long hours of daylight with bonfires in the mountains. These bonfires are inspired by ancient tribal customs and are a perfect way to celebrate summer. Multiple bonfires spread across the rural areas as a form of earth worship which attracts many people especially those into mysticism and paganism. To attract modern revellers, there is a part around bonfires that comes with amazing views.


Croatia- astrofest

In Tican, Croatia people celebrate the summer solstice through the festival astrofest. It brings together astronomy enthusiasts who have a passion for the history of astronomy. Modern music collides with the wonders of astronomy to create the festival. The summer solstice has many beliefs and legends for the people of Croatia so it’s especially important to celebrate.

Astrofest focuses on honouring the shortest night of the year rather than the longest daylight. People who go stay awake throughout the night, saying goodbye to the sunset and stargazing until sunrise. It is an opportunity to honour the link between the sun and sustainable life. Throughout the short night, it is believed fairies, elves and supernatural beings are amongst you.


Canada- Summer solstice indigenous festival

For people in Canada, the summer solstice is the perfect chance to celebrate first nations peoples through an indigenous festival. This festival occurs in the capital Ottawa but spreads to the traditional territories of the Algonquin peoples and their descendants. The festival includes everything from cooking workshops to music and arts entertainment and awards. Celebrations continue every year showcasing indigenous culture to ring in the start of summer.


Alaska- Midnight sun baseball game and mayors marathon

One of Alaska’s most hallowed summer solstice traditions is the midnight sun baseball game. This game started over 100 years ago and has been played ever since. The first pitch is at 10:30pm and is played in its entirety using natural light. It occurs in Fairbanks which is 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle. When the sun begins to set in the north the game starts and rises when it ends. This means that they never play in the dark really and when it’s midnight people witness a midnight sunrise.

In Anchorage, the longest day of the year means participating in a long distance run at the mayor’s marathon. It has been a summer solstice tradition for 40 years and still continues to be popular for Alaskans and even people from all over the world. Over the course of the day, 5 races are held such as the half marathon and the midnight sun marathon that people can be involved in.


Share these summer solstice traditions with your pupils and encourage them to learn about other cultures. Recreate some of these traditions as a classroom activity or base a lesson on one of these traditions. You can do this for the lead up to the summer solstice and even on the day. Allow children to explore how these traditions work for them to understand why they occur that little bit more.

Teach children more about how the summer solstice works with our sun and earth orbit model so that they understand why the solstice is celebrated.

Heading outdoors to enjoy the summer solstice? Keep your pupils protected from the sun with our UV protection: sun safety for kids guide.

<a href="https://blog.hope-education.co.uk/author/amber-vaccianna/" target="_self">Amber Vaccianna</a>

Amber Vaccianna

Hope blog writer

12 June 2023

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