Ways To Celebrate The Summer Solstice

Summer solstice is the longest daylight day of the year in our Northern Hemisphere. Here are some ideas to make the most of it.

By Courtney Johnson
Explore Ambassador

The summer solstice is the longest day of daylight in the year — approximately 16.5 hours. It is a time of celebrating planting and the harvest season. Folklore says the solstice is a time when fairies cross into the modern world. Pagans used this day to honor the sun god and ward off evil spirits. Across the world, traditions vary from spending the day in the fields to drum circles. In modern times, people commemorate the day by spending time outdoors and being grateful for nature’s beauty. Here are seven simple ways to celebrate the summer solstice or spend it enjoying the outdoors.


Play On The Water

The summer solstice is the perfect time to take advantage of the extra daylight with a paddleboard, kayak or canoe. Transition into the time of year when friends and family gather for celebrations and time together enjoying the abundance of sunshine and the great outdoors. It’s hard to not see nature’s beauty when you are surrounded by water and the beautiful colors of the sky. 

Pagans used water in their solstice celebrations for cleansing and healing. Its importance comes from the very root of the solstice as a time of bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables. Water is a precious natural resource that we are losing. By making a commitment to use less water, protect our waterways and value water, we can also celebrate the solstice.


Get Your Hands Dirty

Spend the day visiting a farm and perhaps volunteer to help in the fields, feed the animals or tackle other tasks they may need help with. Pick berries or gather freshly cut flowers or cold-weather vegetables that are starting to be ready for harvest. It’s not too late to plant a simple garden or spend some time tending to the garden you may have already established. All of these things fall within the traditional meaning of the solstice.


Take In The Night Sky

A perfect way to celebrate the solstice is to take in the night sky. Start with viewing the sunset and begin to search for planets on the horizon as dusk settles in. If you are more of an early bird, you may be able to spot the conjunction of the moon and Jupiter in the early hours of the summer solstice if the skies are clear. The two objects in the sky will be near each other as they pass at their closest proximity for the year. 

Check out this Simple 7 article on night-sky viewing for some tips on maximizing your experience.


Have A Sunset Picnic

Dine alfresco at a park, mountaintop or another favorite outdoor location to take in the sunset. Choose your most loved foods, create a summer-themed dinner or even grab takeout from your favorite restaurant. There is just something about eating outside picnic-style that makes the world slow down. Just be sure that you leave no trace by throwing away or packing up your trash to toss when you get home. 


Do Yoga

Show your gratitude for the sun and your own mind and body by doing some sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar. A sun salutation is a series of 12 yoga poses that are great for giving an all-body stretch. Choose a time of day when your mind is most at peace — perhaps at sunrise or sunset. If the poses are too numerous and/ or challenging, even spending some quiet time in mountain pose or seated with hands at the heart is a way to honor yourself and the earth.


Play From Sunup To Sundown

Make it a full day of play, from sunrise to sunset. Try out a new park, head to the pool for a day in the water or spend time on the banks fishing. It’s a perfect time to break out the sidewalk chalk and make a summer scene on the driveway. Blow bubbles and try to catch them, or see who can blow the biggest one. Fly a kite or take a bike ride around the neighborhood. Lie down and look for shapes in the clouds as you take in the summer sky. 

Be sure to take some mindful time to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and the sun as it sets. End the evening with some s’mores and stories around the fire. Or, if you happen to live where fireflies (lightning bugs), frogs or other creatures come out at night, think about spending some time catching them before you call it a night. Enjoy a full evening’s rest as your body restores itself from a full day of fun.


Create Gratitude-Filled Summer Resolutions/Summer Bucket List

Most outdoor-oriented people fill their summer bucket lists with hikes, camping trips, days of fishing or days on the water. The summer solstice is known as a time to show gratitude toward others and our earth. Why not combine days in the sun with some summer resolutions and good deeds, too? Maybe be extra conscious when camping to make sure all the trash is picked up. Spend a day cleaning up a park or waterway that is a favorite of yours, and then celebrate by spending time playing, fishing or paddling at those spots. Sign up for a trail-maintenance project or make a donation to a favorite charity that helps preserve the outdoors. Make it a summer of enjoying nature’s beauty and a summer of giving back.

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