In 2023, the summer solstice will occur on Wednesday, June 21, at 14:58 UTC. This means the summer solstice will happen in the Northern Hemisphere at 10:58 AM EDT or 7:58 AM PDT. Learn more about the solstice and welcome the summer with this list of fun summer solstice traditions and celebration ideas! (First published in June 2015; This post is regularly updated and republished to keep the content current.)
What is the summer solstice, and how is it celebrated? People from cultures from all over the world have held summer solstice celebrations to celebrate the full return of the light of the sun for thousands of years. The summer solstice, or Litha on the Celtic Calendar, is one of the four solar festivals (quarter days) that fall within the Wheel of the Year in the annual cycle of seasons. And while it marks the astronomical beginning of summer on the Gregorian Calendar, people in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and a few other parts of the world celebrate “Midsummer” on the solstice.
Since ancient times, summer solstice traditions have included gathering with family and friends to celebrate the return of light, sunlight, life, fertility, and the potential for a good harvest. And today, people worldwide still celebrate summer’s arrival, or midsummer, with outdoor feasts and festivities, including singing, dancing, musical performances or concerts, bonfires, and by enjoying delicious food and drinks. Learn all about the summer solstice–and make the most of the longest day of the year–with this list of fun summer solstice rituals and celebration ideas to do with kids, family, and friends! Or, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, check out this list of Winter Solstice celebration ideas.
Related: Summer Bucket List
When is the Solstice?
There are two solstices every calendar year; one is in June, while the other is in December. The exact time that the solstice occurs is the same across the globe, while the season that you welcome, summer or winter, depends on which hemisphere you live in–northern or southern.
People in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the summer solstice or Midsummer on the June Solstice, while those in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate the winter solstice. In December, these are reversed. In other words, the June solstice marks the astronomical end of spring and the start of summer for the northern hemisphere, while the December solstice marks the astronomical end of fall and the beginning of winter for the southern hemisphere.
Related: Fun Summer Activities
When is the Summer Solstice?
In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice usually falls between June 20 and June 22. While in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice most often occurs between December 20 and 22.
The changing date of the summer solstice each year involves slight changes in the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar has 364 days in a calendar year to represent the time it takes to travel around the sun. And this means an extra day must be added every fourth year to keep time with the seasons. This added day creates a “leap year” that causes the solstice date to shift a bit each year.
When is the Summer Solstice in 2023?
In 2023 the summer solstice will happen at 14:58 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (source) This means the summer solstice will occur on Wednesday, June 21, at 7:58 AM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) or 10:58 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) in the Northern Hemisphere.
What is the Solstice?
Planet Earth is tilted at about 23.5 degrees. And as it rotates around the sun throughout the year, each hemisphere, northern and southern, experiences half a year tilted toward the sun and the other half tilted away from it. And this produces the cycle of the seasons that we each experience. Albeit some more dramatically than others, depending on where they live.
The solstice marks the point in time that one of the Earth’s poles is at its maximum tilt toward the sun while the other is at its maximum tilt away from the sun, as shown in the graphic of the summer solstice in the image below. In other words, the differences in the tilt mean that varying radiation levels from the sun strike both hemispheres over the year. And these differences in the sun’s radiation cause the seasonal changes we experience while the temperatures near the equator remain relatively constant.
So when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun Canada, the United States and Northern Mexico experience the longer, warmer days of summer, while those in the southern hemisphere experience the darker, colder days of winter–and vice versa. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and will welcome the winter this June, check out this list of Winter Solstice celebration ideas.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice is thus an astronomical event that occurs when one of Earth’s axis, or poles, is at its maximum tilt. This means the sun reaches its highest point in the sky on the summer solstice. And the sun’s position relative to the Earth also explains why the summer solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The reason for this remarkable fact is also a super fun science lesson for kids because it’s all about the tilt of the earth and its rotation around the sun in a single calendar year.
The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year because the sun is at its highest elevation in the sky. And once this maximum sun elevation is reached, it will change very little from its position at noon for several days surrounding the solstice.
In other words, the solstice marks the peak of the Solar year, with the Sun literally at the height of its life-giving power. And in ancient times, that was indeed something to celebrate. The sun is so high in the sky that the Arctic Circle will experience 24 hours of sunlight each day while it remains at its height. But after the summer solstice. The days will once again become shorter and shorter until the shortest day and the longest night of the year is reached on the day of the winter solstice.
Related: Outdoor Activities for Kids
What is the difference between the Solstice and the Equinox?
The solstices and equinoxes are astronomical events that divide the year into four equal parts, with each representing one of the four seasons. As explained above, the solstice marks the peak of the solar year when one of the Earth’s poles is in its maximum tilt toward the sun while the other is tilted away from it. This means that the hemisphere tilted toward the sun will experience long, warm summer days. While the hemisphere tilted away from the sun will experience short cold winter days and long dark winter nights.
In contrast, the spring and fall equinoxes occur between the winter and summer solstices when day and night are said to be approximately equal. Hence the name Equinox. These four events are also known as the solar or quarter-day festivals on the Celtic Calendar. Learn more about the spring and fall equinox and their associated festivals at the links below!
What is the Longest Day of the Year?
The Summer Solstice is always the longest day of the year, no matter which side of the equator you live upon. In other words, if you live in the northern hemisphere, the year’s longest day will be on or around June 21. And, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year will be on or around December 21. Because occasionally, the day that the solstice happens will sometimes fall before or after the 21st.
However, the number of daylight hours will get shorter and shorter each day after the summer solstice until the day of the autumnal equinox, when day and night are said to be equal. And after the equinox, the days will continue to get shorter until the winter solstice. And this makes the winter solstice the shortest day of the year.
Related: Summer Activities for Kids
How do you celebrate the summer solstice?
Many cultures have held summer solstice celebration rituals for thousands of years. Traditional summer solstice rituals and celebrations were influenced by the spiritual meaning of the summer solstice and other cultural influences, including but not limited to paganism. Scroll down to learn more, and read through the fun things you can do to celebrate the summer with kids, family, friends, or your community.
The Spiritual Meaning of Summer Solstice
The summer solstice symbolizes ascension and the rebirth or return of the light on our planet and within each one of us. Because what happens on the Earth and in the heavens is a reflection of what happens within us. “As above, so below.” And spiritually, the sun’s light is considered the same light that shines within each being on Earth.
For these reasons, summer solstice traditions also include rituals to help release old, dark energy. So it’s a great time to consider the grand scope of your life and the spiritual path you are on. It is also a great idea to focus or meditate upon the light to create more abundance in your life.
As you do so, note what is in and out of alignment. And do your best to bring light back into your heart, body, mind, soul, and earthly endeavors. So you can be the bright shining star you were born to be and cast this light upon the Earth and everyone you meet. May you reap an abundant inner and outer harvest this summer!
Summer Solstice Traditions
Traditionally people celebrated renewal, life, fertility, the potential for a good harvest, inner and outer abundance, ascension, and the complete return of the sun’s light on the summer solstice. And today, people worldwide continue to celebrate Litha and the arrival of summer, or Midsummer, with outdoor feasts, singing, dancing, and bonfires. So scroll down for a list of summer solstice celebration ideas, rituals, and fun traditions to help you join the fun!
Fun Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice in 2023
Make the most of the longest day and the shortest night of the year by celebrating the summer solstice with the fun ideas below! The list of ideas in the next section is for young and old alike and includes several fun ways to celebrate the summer solstice with kids. But remember, this is not a MUST DO list but a FUN DO list.
In other words, don’t do it if it’s not fun. You don’t have to do anything on the solstice if you don’t want to. Just pausing momentarily and reflecting on the light within is a great way to celebrate the sun’s return. No summer festival is needed but the one deep in your heart. Because feeling guilty about what you do or don’t do to celebrate the summer solstice won’t help feed the light of your soul, and that’s what’s most important. So no matter what you do, fill it with love and light.
Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas and Fun Things to Do
Have you wondered, “How do you celebrate the solstice? Or “What do people do to celebrate the solstice? Or “What are some summer solstice traditions?” We have several solstice rituals, and traditions, with the best ways to celebrate the summer solstice with friends, kids, or family on the list below.
Make any of these ideas a solstice tradition in your home or community. Or bookmark this list to come back next year to find something different to do to celebrate the summer and the return of the light. For more ideas, check out our summer bucket list full of fun activities, arts, and crafts to try. Or, if you live in the southern hemisphere, hop over to look at how to celebrate the winter solstice.
1. Pause and Reflect on the Light Within
Take a moment to pause and reflect on the light within to honor the return of the light both within and without. Each of us reflects the sun’s light within our hearts, so take a moment to feel connected to the light above, the light within, and the light we share. “As above, so below.”
2. Visit Stonehenge or Watch The Stonehenge 2023 Live Stream Event!
Many experts and archeologists believe that the ancient architects of Stonehenge purposefully placed each rock in this ancient Neolithic structure to showcase the solstices twice a year. Because on the morning of the summer solstice, the sun rises from behind Stonehenge’s Heel Stone, which stands on the avenue leading up to the monument’s Stone Circle. Its morning rays shine from the northeast, directly into the center at the heart of the monument. While on the winter solstice, the sun sets in the southwest, so the effect is reversed as the sun’s rays shine through the stones on the opposite side.
Traditionally, hundreds of visitors, including new-age druids and pagans, travel to Wiltshire, England, on the solstice to witness this magnificent event. But in 2020, the summer solstice at Stonehenge was live-streamed for the first time in history. And this year, in 2023, the Summer Solstice celebration at Stonehenge will be from sunset at 7 pm on Tue, June 20, to 8 am on Wed, June 21. And like they have for the last few years, English Heritage will offer a combined virtual and in-person event.
The organizers will live-stream the sunrise on the official English Heritage YouTube channel on the solstice so those unable to join the festivities in person can enjoy the occasion from the comfort and safety of their homes. However, they ask everyone who attends in person to consider safety guidelines, respect the stones, and remember that this is a spiritual occasion for many. Updates will be posted on the website HERE–>English Heritage.
3. Take a Walk in the Morning Dew
Collecting the morning dew to wash one’s face, and walking barefoot in the morning dew, is a traditional ritual on May Day and the days thereafter. For this reason, many people also enjoy collecting dew before sunrise on the morning of the summer solstice. So, put out a bowl the night before the solstice, kick off your shoes, and go for a meditative barefoot walk or wander in the grass first thing on the morning of the solstice to celebrate this fun summer ritual.
4. Bathe in the Light of the Sun
Visit a beach, pool, or park and bathe in the sun’s light for 20-30 minutes. Your backyard would also be perfect. Be sure to make it a quick sunbath, or apply a reef-safe chemical-free sunscreen so you don’t get burned!
5. Craft a Flower Crown
Making a flower crown is a traditional way to celebrate the summer solstice in many countries, particularly in Switzerland at their Midsummer celebrations. Our step-by-step tutorial teaches how to make a flower crown with faux flowers. Or use the DIY flower crown craft tutorials below to make a flower crown with fresh flowers.
Another fun idea is to make a paper crown craft with a giant sunflower on the front to celebrate the solstice. Remember, when sunflowers are as tall as you, it’s a sign that summer has arrived. So, invite the kids to wear a sunflower tiara on their heads! Or, try either of the fresh flower crown craft tutorials below:
- Learn to make a flower crown with fresh flowers 2 Ways | Say Yes
- Easiest DIY Midsummer Crown | Willowday (photo below)
6. Make a Solstice Suncatcher
Suncatchers make a fantastic craft idea for the summer solstice. My family loves making suncatchers to put in our windows and decorate our homes. A suncatcher with a prism will help you capture the sun’s light to send rainbows all over the house, but the other suncatcher craft ideas below are just as fun!
- Rainbow Suncatcher with a Prism
- Heart Prism Suncatcher
- Sea-Glass Wind Chime DIY
- Flower Suncatcher Craft Ideas
- Rainbow Suncatcher Crafts
7. Design a Nature Mandala
Creating a nature mandala is a fun outdoor process art activity for kids and adults of all ages and a great way for children to learn about nature and the seasonal changes that occur within the “Wheel of the Year.” Because as the seasons turn, the natural materials available to make mandala crafts change. Crafting nature mandalas outdoors is also a therapeutic spiritual practice with several educational and psychological benefits for young and old alike. Click the link above to learn how to make a nature mandala and see a few gorgeous nature mandala art and craft ideas.
8. Get Creative with Sun Crafts
Make some easy sun crafts with your kids for a fun way to celebrate the beginning of summer. Click on the creator of the craft to see the step-by-step tutorial.
- Fingerprint Art Magnets – Make a Fingerprint Sun Magnet
- How to Make a Mini Felt Sun | Bugs and Fishes
- Easy Fingerprint Art Necklace – Make a Fingerprint Sun Necklace
- Sunshine Weaving | The Nurture Store
- Sunburst Sensory Bottle | Rhythms of Play
- Fingerprint Art Keychain and Backpack Charms – Make a Fingerprint Sun Keychain
9. Do Some Gardening
As mentioned above, the summer solstice is traditionally a time to celebrate the potential for a good harvest. What better way to celebrate the light of the sun and the potential of a good harvest than by getting out in the garden? Start a garden, bring new life to it by planting something new, or spend some time tending it and giving your plants the attention, love, and care they need. Use any of the gardening tutorials below to get started:
- How to Grow A Fairy Garden
- Plant Flowers Organically
- Growing Sunflowers & How to Grow a Sunflower House (photo below)
- How to Plant Tomatoes
- Composting at Home: What, Why, and How to Compost
10. Enjoy Summer Arts, Crafts & Activities
- Creating summer arts and crafts is a great way to celebrate the rebirth of light and the summer season. Here are a few more summer art and craft ideas to get you started:
- Make nature art and crafts with natural materials.
- Create magnets, necklaces, or keychain charms with cute fingerprint suns.
- Make a butterfly tree or some Monarch butterfly peg dolls.
- Enjoy this fantastic collection of Flower art projects.
- Make a gorgeous sea-glass windchime.
- Create shell sunflowers or shell daisies.
- Make mud pies.
- Design a nature mandala.
- Create shadow sidewalk chalk art.
- Make felt flower crafts or lei necklaces.
- Color and wear a paper sunflower crown or tiara.
- Make a seasonal handprint and fingerprint tree – This is a great activity to do with your child to introduce the idea of seasonal changes. Feel free to do all seasons or just a summer handprint tree. (photo below)
11. Add Greenery and Summer Decor to your Home
Decorate the inside and outside of your house with fresh greenery, flowers, and summer decor to welcome the sunlight back into your heart and home. The solstice suncatcher craft ideas and summer crafts listed above make a great choice. Or try these nature crafts and art activities.
12. Make a Summer Alter or Nature Table
Create a summer altar in your home to celebrate the sun and the return of the light. Fill it with natural items representing the sun, the light within each of us, or anything the sun nurtures, such as freshly harvested foods and flowers. Crafting a small nature mandala on your summer altar can also be fun. Or, make a summer nature table as a fun way to honor this sacred solstice ritual with kids at home or in the classroom.
13. Make a Human Sundial
Making a human sundial is a fun summer activity you can try on or around the solstice. My daughter and I are doing this science experiment on each of the solstices and equinoxes to see how our shadows change during the day and throughout the year. It’s been a super fun learning experience for both of us, so we encourage you to try it. For even more fun, paint your sundial with DIY chalk paint, take pictures of your sidewalk chalk art, and write the results of your experiment in a homemade nature journal.
14. Read Books about the Summer Solstice
Help children understand what the solstice is all about with the books on the list below. These beautiful books about the summer solstice for kids are a great way to share the significance of seasonal changes. A few options are listed below:
- Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun
- The Midsummer Mouse: Midsummer Tales of Tiptoes Lightly and the Summer Queen
- The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice
15. Visit a Local Berry Picking Farm Or Go Foraging
What better way to celebrate the sun than to eat juicy berries ripened by it? Please pop over to read our article about berry picking and wild foraging with kids for more information.
16. Enjoy a Summer Solstice Feast
Host or attend a summer solstice picnic or dinner party to celebrate an abundant Midsummer harvest like they did in ancient times. Traditional summer solstice foods are seasonal foods and drinks grown, raised, and harvested locally (or brewed in the case of beer, ciders, and wine). So, invite friends and family for a summer solstice feast filled with your favorite seasonal locally raised and grown foods to celebrate the abundance of summer.
Visit a farmer’s market, a local farm, a local bakery, a brewery, or a vineyard to gather all the goodies you need for your solstice gathering. Fresh ripened fruit, berries, and seasonal vegetables make a great option for the summer solstice. Or, have a solstice potluck by inviting each one of your guests to bring something they prepare (or pick up) made with seasonal local foods. And you will surely have an abundant summer solstice feast like they did in the old days!
17. Host or Attend a Bonfire
Attending a solstice bonfire night is a traditional way to celebrate the summer solstice. Dance, sing, beat drums, play music, or enjoy the music made by musicians, and celebrate the official beginning of summer–or Midsummer if you are in Norway or Sweden. But please be safe and follow city or county laws and regulations if you choose to have a bonfire night. And if you light it, be prepared to fight it. For more information, see 10 Tips for a Safe Bonfire with Kids.
18. Practice Yoga and Meditate
Did you know that the summer solstice has been named International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly? That makes this the perfect day to practice yoga! And, of course, sun salutations (also known as sun salutes) are the perfect way to honor the sun on the solstice. Have kids? Invite children to practice yoga with this list of FREE yoga videos for kids!
Meditating and practicing yoga is a great way to release old energy, welcome the light, and heal the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. So spend time filling your body with light and creating inner and outer abundance as a part of your summer solstice celebration with yoga or meditation. You can even attend the summer solstice in Time Square, where participants practice yoga from sunup to sundown.
In 2023, the Time Square Summer Solstice Yogathon organizers hope to offer a combined virtual and in-person event. Practice yoga virtually or in New York City to honor the light and find calm within the chaos of life. Experienced yogis and first-timers are invited to attend yoga classes throughout the day. Learn more at the link below!
“Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga will return on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 with our 21st annual event!”Solstice in Time Square
19. Dance Around a Maypole
Although many people celebrate May Day with a Maypole dance, dancing around the Maypole has become a modern-day summer solstice tradition for many Scandinavian people. Their Midsummer celebrations and festivities have a Maypole (or Midsummer Pole) decorated with greenery and flowers as the focus. Even though the Maypole tradition is said to have originated in Germany. The Swedes and other revelers joyfully celebrate the return of summer’s long days and short nights in their Midsummer holiday festivals with Maypole dancing. Learn more about dancing around a Maypole in May Day traditions and celebration ideas from around the world.
20. Search for Signs of Summer
Here’s a fun thing to do with kids on the summer solstice and the days before and after. And this idea is just as much fun for adults. Look for the signs that summer has arrived with this fun summer scavenger hunt idea. How many signs can you find that summer has arrived?
21. Review and Renew Goals
The solstices and equinoxes are a great time to commit to a quarterly goal review. If you are having a summer solstice gathering, invite your guest to join you in this activity. Because reviewing and renewing goals is a great way to create the potential for inner and outer abundance.
- Setting Goals
- Create an Action Plan to Accomplish Goals
- Why I turn my Goals into Affirmations
- Dream Life Tool Kit
22. Set Intentions
After a goal review, write down your intentions or a few affirmations. Think of an intention as things, ideas, or habits you want to bring into your life. Create an affirmation to make those intentions yours by energizing them into fruition. Once you write down a few intentions and affirmations, state them daily for the best results.
23. Begin Something New
The summer solstice is a great time to renew the spirit, review prior dreams, and create new goals. Release old dark energy and create new light energy with a new project or goal on the summer solstice.
- Make a list of everything you’ve wanted to do.
- Pick your top three choices.
- Make a plan to start one and go from there. Don’t know where to start? Please look at How to Set SMART Goals or purchase our Dream Life Tool Kit!
24. Establish a Daily Rhythm
Start fresh this season and find room to manifest your new intentions. Establishing a daily rhythm or routine can help you increase the “peace” at home and help the whole family thrive. Check out How to Plan Your Daily Rhythm for more information, or grab our free QuickStart Weekly Planning Guide to get started today!
25. Get Outside & Connect
Get outside and connect with what matters on the solstice. For more information about Get Outside & Connect, click on the link. You might also enjoy this HUGE collection of outdoor activities for kids.
26. Be the Sunshine
Last but certainly not least, be the sunshine and be light. Tread lightly on the earth, be gentle with yourself and kind to others, shine your light near and far, and be the bright shining star you were born to be.
Related: Camp Kindness Summer Camp for Kids
Fun Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice For Kids and Adults
There are many ways you can celebrate the summer solstice. Create a summer solstice celebration meaningful for you and your family to celebrate the sun and all it brings to us. Don’t forget to check out our summer bucket list for even more fun summer activities.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–>HERE
If You Liked Summer Solstice 2023 Ideas, You might also Enjoy Learning About the Other Quarter Day and Cross Quarter Day Festivals In the Wheel of the Year
If you’re curious about the Wheel of the Year, each solar quarter-day and lunar cross-quarter-day or midpoint festival is on the list below. The list begins with the Samhain because it is considered the New Year of this ancient Celtic Calendar.
- Samhain (Hallows)
- Winter Solstice (Yule)
- Imbolc (Candlemas)
- Spring Vernal Equinox (Ostara)
- May Eve or May Day (Beltane)
- Summer Solstice (Litha)
- Lughnasadh (Lammas)
- Fall Autumnal Equinox (Mabon)