The summer solstice on June 21 may be a regular Friday for other countries, but it’s a completely different story in the UK. Countless Britons will be taking to the countryside to light up bonfires, maybe do some yoga, and greet the rising sun.
Don’t confuse this all for the Sun’s birthday or anything--that’s the winter solstice, and you’re six months late. If you were to dedicate a card to the Sun for the summer solstice, maybe a simple “ Lettuce Celebrate” would be a better fit.
Ready to join the festivities and get funny looks from the rest of the world? Here are 5 prime places to celebrate the summer solstice.
5 Places to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
1. Head Over to Stonehenge
The summer solstice is one of the few times that Stonehenge is open to the public. That means you can actually go up the stones and give them a curious poke as if you’ve never heard of Stonehenge before.
Go on an access tour and watch some pagan and Druid festivities, or set up camp on the Salisbury Plains to catch the sunrise. You’ll probably end up partying along at the Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival overflowing with good music, great eats, and terrific cider.
2. Chill Out at Avebury
All right, it can get quite crowded at Stonehenge. If you’re not comfortable with sharing a meter of space with at least two other people, you might find yourself cursing the dawn instead.
Good thing there’s laid-back Avesbury nearby. This stone circle is the largest one in England, so you’ll be able to move around more freely, phew. Grab an ice-cold drink at the Red Lion pub, watch a fire performance at sundown, and sit back among fellow revelers and clouds of smoke until the sun rises.
3. Go Up the Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor is one more relatively quiet spot if you’d like to watch the sun rise without the crowds. Get to the top for a 360-degree view... assuming you’ll be the only person up there. Fine, you might need a selfie stick to get unobstructed shots.
Legend has it that not only was Excalibur was forged in Glastonbury, but King Arthur was laid to rest here as well. Other legends add that the terraced hillside may hint at an underground labyrinth. Still other sources say that Glastonbury is part of a giant zodiac. You might want to take a history or mythology geek with you for this one.
4. Get Your Fill of Curry and Chai at Leeds
Craving Indian cuisine? Stuff yourself silly at South Asian Arts UK’s Summer Solstice Festival in Left Bank Leeds. You’ll get to enjoy the ethereal classical music of India while you’re at it.
This year’s Summer Solstice Festival at Leeds features a professional Kathak performance by Pt. Rajendra Gangani. With precise hand movements and a lot of twirls and rapid stomps, Kathak is definitely a change of pace from our own Morris dance.
5. Join Lowestoft’s First Light Festival
Want to really stand out for the summer solstice? Make your way to the most easterly town in England for the pioneer edition of the First Light Festival. Don’t be surprised if you’re disoriented by all the beach huts and Victorian gardens--that’s part of the charm.
The party starts at noon on June 22 and runs until noon of June 23. That’s right, the First Light Festival will be running for 24 hours straight. Booze isn’t allowed on site, but the festival more than compensates with a dance party, a night market, a sandcastle record attempt, and a well-being zone along the shore.
If you’re only allowed to smash your sleep schedule once a year, you’d better save it for the summer solstice.
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