The summer solstice certainly was something I celebrated as a child. After all, it was (and still is) the longest day of the year! Those extra minutes of sunlight signified what felt like an eternal day of sunshine until the giant orb in the sky set, my parents called me in, and the fireflies illuminated my way home.
My child self wasn’t the only one to rejoice in this celestial event. In fact, for thousands of years, cultures from around the world have celebrated the sun’s splendor on the longest day of the year. According to History.com, during the summer solstice the Ancient Greeks paid tribute to their agriculture god, Cronus, to greet the first day of their calendar year; while the Ancient Chinese honored earth, femininity, and the force of yin. The festivities continued across the globe, as the ancient Northern and Central European tribes built bonfires to welcome the onset of summer.
While we modern humans may not find ourselves playing childhood games or following pagan rituals of the past, we can celebrate summer solstice in our own grown-up, modern ways. On June 21, soak up those additional precious minutes of sunshine and revel with the masses on the longest day of the year. From the 3-day festival and parade in Santa Barbara, California, to the solstice celebration in New York City’s Times Square, here are just a few of the countless summer solstice jubilees taking place this year:
Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebrations
Santa Barbara is turning up the summer heat with magnificent floats, eccentric costumes, and artwork galore at a multiday festival and parade. The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration rings in the summer with drum circles, choreographed dances, arts and crafts boutiques, and more.
Edmonton Summer Solstice Celebrations
Edmonton, Alberta, greets the summer months with the sweet melodies of the Edmonton Chamber Music Society. A 3-day event, the Edmonton Summer Solstice Festival presents haunting Spanish serenades, celebratory Hungarian folksongs, and lively and dramatic string quartets.
Boston Summer Solstice Celebrations
Welcome summer with open arms and open ears on the solstice at the Make Music Harvard Square free music festival in Boston. This music gala features 75 local musicians playing genres from rock and folk to gypsy and blues.
New York Summer Solstice Celebration
New York City presents a number of summer-themed bashes saluting the onset of sweltering summer days. Decorate poles at the Swedish Midsummer Festival in Battery Park City, or join the downward dog-posing crowds at the Solstice in Times Square: Mind over Madness Yoga.
Los Angeles Summer Solstice Celebration
Though Southern California is known for its seemingly perpetual sunshine and warm weather, Los Angeles still joins in on the summer solstice shindigs with various events. Browse art exhibits and jam to DJ Jeremy Sole at the 2014 Summer Solstice Party at the Hammer Museum, or join the celestial carousals with Make Music Los Angeles 2014 citywide concerts.
Follow our Summer Solstice series for more details and in-depth coverage of the best solstice celebrations taking place this June across the globe.
In what city would you most like to celebrate summer solstice?