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Trip Ideas

8 Epic Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Time for a little Summer Solstice 101: it’s the longest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere, that is), and in 2016 it falls on Monday June 20th. Here, we share 8 ways to capitalize on that sweet summer sun.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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Millennium Park Summer Music Series, Chicago, IL

Lucky little Chi-Town locals have all summer to hit the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the Millennium Park Summer Music Series as it runs from June to August with shows every Monday and Thursday. But Monday June 20th, the show pays special tribute to the solstice with improvised jazz from Kelan Phil Cohran and genre-defying dancehall/reggae mixes from DJ Spooky. Afterwards, head down the block to the Navy Pier to grab a snack (dulce de leche churros, anyone?) and get a little closer to the sun on the Centennial Wheel.

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Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga New York, NY

Yogis from all around the world will trek to midtown Manhattan for the annual yoga solstice celebration, Mind Over Madness. While it's never dark in Times Square (take a look at a light pollution map), more than ten thousand practitioners unroll their mats early to make the most of the extended daylight hours (classes start at 5am and run till 8:30pm). If you're not one for sun salutations or half lotuses, it's still fun to observe (take it from us).

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Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival Ottawa, Canada

It’s not all about the summer solstice in Ottawa. June 21 marks National Aboriginal Day and celebrations honor Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities. Head for Vincent Massey Park June 17-19 for a festival full of fire hoop dances, throat singing and an aboriginal marketplace with traditional foods (if you love fried dough, don't miss the bannock), fashion and artwork. Check out the intertribal Pow Wow competition when singers and dancers, young and old, whip out every move they've got in the hopes of snagging a $75,000 prize.

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Secret Solstice Music Festival Reykjavik, Iceland

Based on previous Iceland Airwaves fests, we know that Reykjavik is always poised for a throwdown. But even if it wasn't, we'd be willing to put musical considerations aside for the nation's killer front row solstice seat. Tucked right under the arctic circle, Iceland's locale pretty much guarantees three beautiful days of midnight sun (while the southern Antarctic Circle experiences polar night – the complete absence of sun – during their winter solstice). On the music front, 2016's Secret Solstice (held June 16-19th) is headlined by both longtime faves and promising up-and-comers – namely Radiohead, Of Monsters and Men, Deftones, and Die Antwoord – so get your sunnies ready!

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival, Salisbury, UK

What’s better than waking up to glimpses of the summer sun as it peeks through the historic Stonehenge monument? Spending four whole days camping (or glamping), eating, and drinking beforehand. This year, the 8th annual Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival sets up shop the 18th-21st at the Stonehenge Campsite, all in anticipation of that sweet 4:15am sunrise on the last day. The camp already holds the title for the closest caravan park to Stonehenge (it's just 4.5 miles down the road) and shuttle service is provided between the adorable wooden camping pods and the iconic site. While you wait for the solstice, try a yoga workshop, sip some cider or gather around the campfire for singing and storytelling.

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Midnight Sun Festival Fairbanks, Alaska

Each year, 30,000+ people show up for the Midnight Sun Festival in Fairbanks to celebrate the solstice block party-style – so they must be doing something right. If you live in the lower 48, you're about to get real jealous as the festival runs for 12-hours (from noon to midnight) with a BBQ cook-off, lots of live music (36 acts to be precise) and fluffy sled dog puppies (need I say more). Among the 160 vendors, look for old timey pop from Alaska Soda Jerk (try the peach and cranberry combo, Smokin Redhead) and refreshing brews from the Lavelle's Taphouse beer garden on 2nd Ave – pick your poison and raise a drink to the first day of astrological summer.

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The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration Santa Barbara, CA

Alameda Park in SB is the place to be if your idea of a solstice done right includes outrageous floats, Carnival-style costumes, spirited dancing, and live music. The three days of festivities are strung together with a musical pulse – DJs pump out techno and house music, drum circles pop up, and Afro-Cuban jazz performances spur latin dance among a hyped crowd. The festival and parade have been ringing in the summer season since 1979 and yearly themes have brought even more excitement to the celebrations. This go-around it's all about 'Legends' so get pumped for covers of blues, glam rock, and funk trailblazers like BB King, David Bowie, Prince, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

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Watch the sunrise or sunset (from wherever you are)

No matter where you are – whether you’re kicking it poolside, lying in the grass at a local park, or lazing in a rocker on your front porch – make sure to catch the twisted pinks and oranges of a solstice sunrise or sunset. Check out this handy chart for local solstice times worldwide.



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