Summer Solstice is celebrated in places such as Stonehenge, Santa Barbara, California (a paradise destination) and in many weird places. There were 23,000 people who attended the celebration of solstice and viewing of the sunrise this year at Stonehenge, 80 miles southwest of London. New-age participants danced, performed yoga, kissed the stones, some stoned themselves, enjoyed the drums, the freedom and the celebration of the longest day of the year.
Santa Barbara in the Californian central coast celebrates Summer Solstice as one of its two largest events during the summer. The first of these is Fiestas Rancheras a three-day celebration of the town’s Spanish heritage. Summer Solstice is the largest one day celebration hosting over 100,000 visitors. In preparation for this festival, a community workshop is open all year-long where artists create floats for the parade that rolls through State Street, Santa Barbara’s main avenue. The parade features a lot of colors, creativity, paper mache, and fun contraptions. The celebration to the layman is an excuse to have fun, kick-off the summer celebration, bring out the water guns, balloons, and super soakers.
Solstice, as the locals call it, is an accepted day for silliness, heat and fun. Similar to Santa Claus ending each parade, the inflatable fiery globe with dancing men and women close out each of Santa Barbara’s Solstice parade. During its history, it has not all been juvenile fun and games, however. This wild party held in high Santa Barbara temperatures gave way to occasional nudity which became more frequent until complaints reached the necessary decision makers, who then banned nudity from future parades. Although there is no nudity allowed, there are plenty of performers that adhere to the least sufficient definition of clothing to make it onto the parade route, which culminates in a community celebration in Alameda Park.
In addition to California’s paradise, another weird place for a fun Summer Solstice celebration is Fremont in Seattle. The celebration lasts the entire weekend and includes music stages, beer gardens, food trucks, a craft market with over 300 vendors and, of course, two parades. The first parade is colorful and strange, while the second parade is a dog parade that allows individuals to stroll on display along with their best friend, all dolled-up in Solstice gear. A planned activity of the festival includes yoga, which will occur on National Yoga Day. The large party will also feature street performers, magicians, chalk artists and other buskers. The biggest difference between these and the Santa Barbara festival is that nudity in moderation is still permitted, as long as it is confined to the group bike ride, Solstice Cyclists, where a butt-painted group of more than 1,500 rides together, prior to the parade, to Gas Works Park where the parade route concludes.
Other unlikely or weird places that throw large-scale Summer Solstice parties, in addition to paradise and Fremont, include Iceland with a three-day festival, Times Square in New York and Ottawa, Canada. What is interesting about each of these celebrations is that they are so vastly different. The Ottawa festival is none other than the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts festival, which celebrates the National Aboriginal Day. Times Square will host yoga practice from sunrise to sunset. In the mountains of Tyrol, Austria solstice celebrations run into the night and host humongous fires. Named after the Slavic goddess of fertility, Kupala, Poland celebrates the Summer Solstice with revelry, music and flowers. Croatia, Stockholm in Sweden, and Menorca, Spain also hold events of their own to celebrate the longest day of the year with festivals, rituals, and fun.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Time – Thousands Mark Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Cheap Flights – Top 10 summer solstice celebrations around the world
The Charlotte Observer – 5 super spots to celebrate the summer solstice
Stonehenge Image Courtesy of Paul Townsend’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Fremont Image Courtesy of Peter Stathakos’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Santa Barbara Image Courtesy of David Vo’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License