What is the Summer Solstice?
The Summer Solstice typically occurs on June 21st, when the sun is at the highest position in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. Also known as Midsummer, it is the day with the most prolonged period of daylight, the first official day of summer. Solstice is derived from the Latin “sol” for sun, and “stitium” or “sistere” which means stopped or stand still.
The Solstice is marked all across the Northern Hemisphere with celebrations ranging from the frenetic to the Zen. Here are a few of the unique cultural festivals and events being held on and around June 21st.
Secret Solstice Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland
A three-day family-friendly event, also known as the Midnight Sun Festival. Showcasing a mix of international headlining artists and local acts, Secret Solstice also offers unique musical encounters in nature at their side events. Experience music in an aquamarine glacier cavern, in a 5000-year-old lava field or outside in the never-ending daylight with thousands of revelers from all over the world.
Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, Ottawa, Canada
June 21st marks National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, a day for all Canadians to honour and learn about the history and culture of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. The summer solstice has been celebrated by aboriginal communities for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is an annual event that attracts over 45,000 people. Communities from all across Canada are represented through dance, throat singing, food, art, and music.
Stonehenge Solstice Fest, Wiltshire, U.K.
Perhaps the most famous monument associated with the summer solstice, Stonehenge in Wiltshire England has stood for over 5,000 years. The heel stone was put in place to align perfectly with the solstice sunrise, acting as a calendar for the ancient people living in the region at the time. The Stonehenge Solstice Fest is held over 3 days at the campground nearest the Stonehenge monument. This music and arts festival begins with morning yoga, to set a quiet intention before the more intense celebrations throughout the day.
Solstice Gathering, Central Ontario, Canada
A unique, week-long electronic and roots festival held in rural Central Ontario on a private forested property, with a zero-waste philosophy and community co-operative participation. The intensity of the all-day, all-night electronic music festival can be escaped in chill-out zones, where attendees can engage in slow, gentle yoga, or listen to calm meditation music to re-center and re-focus.
Astrofest, Istra, Croatia
Most summer solstice festivals focus on the longest period of daylight, but Astrofest in Istra, Croatia does the exact opposite, it celebrates the shortest night of the year. Revelers gather at an astronomical observatory to see off the setting sun with bonfires and spiritual music. The night is spent eating, stargazing, listening to nature sounds, while honouring the calm and beauty of the night sky.
Mind Over Madness Yoga, New York City, U.S.A
Thousands of yogis of all walks of life gather in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan on the summer solstice to practice yoga on the street. June 21st also marks the International Day of Yoga, a day designated by the United Nations as a day to raise awareness of the physical and mental benefits of yoga. The intersection of 42nd and Broadway is blocked off from all pedestrian traffic, yoga mats are laid down, transforming Times Square from a frenetic and crowded environment into a more focused, quieter, Zen-like space. Dozens of renowned yogis lead classes en plein air, encouraging stillness and calm in the heart of New York City.
You can take some time where you are in this moment to acknowledge the summer solstice in your own unique way. Perform sun salutations at daybreak, take time to soak up the sun midday, breathe in some fresh forest air, meditate outside at twilight, or celebrate around a bonfire with friends!
If you are looking for some meditation music to add to your celebration, our MEDITATE channel is a perfect for calming the mind and restoring balance.