Planning activities for the longest day of the year in London
On any given day in London, England, it’s not uncommon for the heavens to open with a torrential downpour. But the summer solstice is the one day of the year we all sincerely hope for a pop of sunshine. If the clouds abide, the sun should shine in London-Town for more than 16 hours during this year’s solstice on June 21. Every Londoner knows that much consecutive sunshine is certainly something to celebrate! Here are some activities to consider for the Big Day:
Stonehenge. Adventuresome solstice-seekers can trek roughly 80 miles outside of London for sunrise at Stonehenge. Though mystery still lies around the official purpose of this prehistoric and ceremonial site, what we do know is that during the summer solstice, the area serves as a celestial observatory. Join the crowds and marvel at the sun rising at 4:40 a.m., local time. When you stand within the circle, you’ll see the sunrise align with the Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone, showcasing an unrivaled natural spectacle.
Primrose Hill: For those early birds who would rather stay in the heart of London, saunter over to Primrose Hill to witness daybreak within the city limits. Pack some croissants and a thermos of breakfast tea to enjoy while you look out on a spectacular view of the city. From up here, the London skyline looks small.
English breakfast fix: Whether you rose with the solstice sun or you choose to catch some zeds instead, greet the longest day of the year with brunch at Duck & Waffle. Home to the highest restaurant in all of London, this English eatery sits on the fortieth floor of the Heron Tower and boasts panoramic views of the city. Treat your taste buds to a traditional English breakfast of baked beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggs to fuel up for the first day of summer festivities.
Taste of London: Come hungry to toast the onset of summer at the Taste of London in Regents Park. This 4-day event, from June 18-22, invites you to sample cuisine from more than 40 of London’s best restaurants. With both lunch and dinner sessions, this foodie affair serves up cooking demonstrations, meet-and-greets with top chefs, and artisan and brand vendors, too. Whether you consider yourself a cooking connoisseur or you simply want to sample some of London's famous fish and chips, this summer kick starter is for you.
River cruise: If you’re still full from your hearty British breakfast and can’t yet face another meal, take to the water until you regain your appetite. London offers a number of Thames river cruises, all of which provide you with a different perspective of some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Set sail under the solstice sun from your choice of piers at Westminster, London Eye, Tower, and Greenwich.
Tea time: It’s pinkies out and bottoms up at the Dean Street Townhouse. Do as the English do and cheers the solstice with tea and crumpets or sip on Prosecco in the chic French-inspired parlor. If you prefer to be outside, take to the terrace for fresh air and high tea small plates.
St. James’s Park: When you’ve had your fill of English tea and scones, make your way over to St. James’s Park for some peace and quiet under the summer sun. You’ll feel like royalty strolling between flower beds, as this park is nestled between three palaces: St. James’s Palace, the Palace of Westminster, and Buckingham Palace.
Viewfinder Tip: If you're traipsing around London, be sure to purchase an Oyster Card; these cards enable you to use buses and The Tube quickly and easily.
Opera on a midsummer night: As the evening starts to settle in, revel in summertime serenades with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and soprano Deborah Norman at Hampton Court Palace. This first-day-of-summer event is a part of the Hampton Court Palace Festival. Though the bows won’t hit the strings until 8:30 p.m., arrive around 5:30 p.m. to picnic and indulge in some bubbly in the East Front Gardens before the show.
The Shard: If singing solos and sopranos aren’t your English cup of tea, embark on your own solo route, and catch the setting solstice sun from the 72nd floor of The Shard. As London’s tallest building, The Shard towers over Smoke City with sweeping views of more than 40 miles in every direction. Around 9:21 p.m., once the moon takes over for the solstice sun, hit up one of the three restaurants, Aqua Shard, Oblix, or Hutong, in this sky-scraping landmark.
What are your favorite ways to spend a day in London?
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