Way back in ancient Ireland, during Midsummer’s Eve—the holiday that falls a few days after summer solstice—celebrators built fires so high they had to use ladders to throw bundles into the flames. Lovers held hands and took leaps of faith over the tamer bonfires, while the rowdy threw flaming pitchforks into the sky.
Based on pagan traditions, this Irish holiday hasn’t completely gone up in flames, as some rural parts of Ireland still illuminate the countryside to welcome the summer season.
During this summer solstice in Dublin, the city probably won’t be ablaze with bonfires, but it still knows how to party. Ring in the first day of the sunny months gamboling through a castle festival or rooting for scalawags in pirate ship battles. To spark your summer celebrations, we’ve rounded up the hottest things to do in Dublin on June 20, 2015.
All weekend: Slip into the15th-century garden walls of Ballinlough Castle to discover a dreamscape of masquerade balls, acrobatic action, and electronica vibes. Located in County Westmeath, roughly an hour northeast of Dublin, the eccentric Body&Soul festival is a 3-day whimsical affair with campsites, art trails, seaweed baths, and other curious attractions.
However, if you’re more cut out for just one day of solstice revelry, check out our Saturday itinerary instead:
Sunrise: Can’t sleep because you’re so excited about the start of summer? We don’t blame you—it’s a big day! The sun rises bright and early at 4:57 a.m. If you’re awake at the crack of dawn, take a sunrise stroll along Ha’penny Bridge before the city starts to stir.
Breakfast: Black pudding, baked beans, and grilled tomatoes are great and all, but there’s more to Dublin cuisine than its traditional Irish breakfast. Bust out of your routine and nosh at Brother Hubbard on Capel Street. You can’t go wrong with the semolina pancakes, almond and orange cake, or the Turkish eggs menemen.
Viewfinder Tip: The Irish Maritime Festival is hosting the Boyne Swim, a race from Mell to south of the Boyne Viaduct.
Afternoon: Ahoy, matey! Cruise over to nearby Drogheda for the Irish Maritime Festival. As Ireland’s largest nautical event, it welcomes summer with a splash. Extreme sport crews pull stunts on the River Boyne, pirates battle aboard vessels, and row boats race along the shore. The swashbuckling pirate-themed event runs June 19-21.
Evening: Get your Stevie Nicks kick at 3Arena Dublin. The American-British rock band, Fleetwood Mac, is storming the stage at 6:30 p.m. With summertime on its mind, the band just may croon its famous lyrics, “in the summer, in the light, with days of lazy laughter, and sweet, sweet dreams in the night.”
Sunset: Yup, the sun’s still up. After 17 hours of shining, it won’t set until 9:57 p.m., which means you still have time to steal some sunshine. Head to The Marker Hotel’s swanky Rooftop Bar and Terrace for cocktails, cronuts, and a view of the sun setting over the Dublin Bay and the Dublin Mountains.
You don’t have to party like the pagans to make this summer solstice go down in history. If you’re visiting from out of town, don’t miss the vacation packages in Dublin.
Here’s what you missed during the 2014 Dublin summer solstice:
-We rose with the solstice at Dun Laoghaire Pier and then smelled the roses at the World Flower Show.
-A visit to Dublin’s National Leprechaun Museum was followed by a cold one at the Guinness Storehouse.
-Dinner was at Chapter One.
-Hidden Dublin Walks & Tours helped us round out the longest day of the year.
How will you spend 17 hours of daylight in Dublin?
Body Copy Image Attribution: Flickr/Creative Commons/William Murphy/Via/https://flic.kr/p/4SukSW