Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World
Iceland Secret Solstice Festival
Heading into its fourth year, this three-day music festival isn’t so much of a secret anymore.
It’ll be held June 16 to 18 this year in the capital Reykjavik, which is also the world’s most northerly city.
The sun never fully sets here over the solstice, and the festival takes full advantage. Music plays for 24 hours a day, with 150 bands performing. Headliners have included Radiohead, Deftones, Of Monsters And Men, and Die Antwoord, plus performances from St. Germain, Flatbush Zombies and Action Bronson.
Concerts and parties are put on in only-in-Iceland locations, such as an ice cave, a crater of a volcano, a glacier and a lagoon heated by volcanic fires.
Santa Barbara Solstice Festival
The Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, first as a birthday celebration for a local artist, but then it joined forces with the city’s Summer Solstice Music Festival. Now the joint event is one of the biggest things the city does, drawing crowds of more than 100,000.
The parade features floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks, said Alyssa Schmid, a spokeswoman for Visit Santa Barbara.
“There is dancing, music, drumming and drama that enthralls the spectators,” she said.
Then the festival in Alameda Park has live music, food and arts and crafts, “a DJ area for dancing and enjoying techno music and a large drum circle keeps the beat going all afternoon,” she said.
The White Nights Festival
This celebration in St. Petersburg, Russia spans three months, from May to July, centered on the solstice.
The days with the most sun, called the White Nights, are the peak of the action.
“At this time, local people strip off the greys of winter and are joined by visitors from across the globe in a celebration of life and light,” according to advisors from the travel company Audley Travel. “Highlights include classic ballet, operas and music, and many stars from around the world also attend to perform at the Palace Square for the event.”
Inti Raymi Festival
This Incan sun festival is celebrated throughout South America, including in Peru and Ecuador.
The festival of music, costumes and food recognizes indigenous cultures throughout the Andes, according to Audley Travel advisors.
Some of the highlights are in Cuzco, where the biggest celebrations take place, and in Ingapirca, Ecuador at the site of the largest set of Inca ruins in the country.
“The ceremonies begin when the sun rises the doorway of the Temple of the Sun, and about 10,000 visitors travel there every year to join the festival,” according to the Audley Travel team.
“Hundreds of thousands of revellers take to the streets and attend the sun ritual at the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman just outside the town,” said Dan Clarke with the travel company Real World Holidays. “Although these days the ritual sacrifice is only symbolic.”
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art celebrates the summer solstice each year with music performances and late-night gallery viewings. “Solstice has become one of the most anticipated events of the summer in Cleveland, and features two stages packed with forward-looking artists,” said Kelley Notaro, a spokeswoman for the museum.
The Mii Amo Spa
The Mii amo spa in Sedona, Arizona also celebrates the solstice because of its proximity to the surrounding Native American community, said a spokeswoman for the spa.
“The resorts observe the solstice as a time of cleansing, renewal, love, and growth and offer guests an experience where they will not only learn about Native American traditions and beliefs, but get to experience them first-hand,” she said. “During each solstice, the resorts host a week of special activities and seminars for guests including traditional Native American dance performances, peace pipe teachings, talking circles, and a sacred ceremony.”
Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque, New Mexico will offer summer solstice "glamping" trips to Chaco Canyon. The canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has light patterns that are formed from the ancient sacred architecture as the sun rises.