In 2021, the summer solstice will occur on Sunday, June 20 at 3:32 UTC. This means the summer solstice will happen at 11:32 PM EDT, or, 8:32 PM EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. Learn all about the solstice and welcome the summer with this fun list of summer solstice traditions and celebration ideas!
People from cultures from all over the world have held summer solstice celebrations for thousands of years. While the summer solstice marks the astronomical beginning of summer on the Gregorian Calendar, many parts of the world celebrate “midsummer” on the solstice.
Traditionally, people celebrated the return of the light, life, fertility, and the potential for a good harvest on the summer solstice. Today people around the world still celebrate the arrival of summer with outdoor feasts, singing, dancing, and bonfires. Learn all about the summer solstice, and, make the most of the longest day of the year with this fun list of summer solstice traditions, rituals, and ideas!
Related: Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
Related: Summer Bucket List
When is the Solstice?
There are 2 solstices in 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.
On the June Solstice, those in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the summer 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 December 22.
The changing date of the summer solstice each year has to do with slight changes in the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar has 364 days in a calendar year to represent the amount of time it takes to travel around the sun. An extra day needs to be added every fourth year to keep time with the seasons. This added day creates a “leap year” that causes the date of the solstice to shift a bit each year.
When is the Summer Solstice in 2020?
This year the summer solstice will happen at 3:32 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (source) This means that the summer solstice will occur on Saturday, June 21, at 8:32 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) or 11:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) in the Northern Hemisphere.
What is the Solstice?
Planet Earth is tilted at about 23.5 degrees. 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. The solstice marks the point in time that one of the Earth’s poles is in its maximum tilt toward the sun while the other is in its maximum tilt away from the sun.
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 shorter colder days of winter–and vice versa.
In other words, the differences in the tilt mean that varying levels of radiation from the sun strike both hemispheres over the course of the year, and these differences in radiation cause the seasonal changes that we experience while the temperatures near the equator remain relatively constant.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and will be welcoming the winter this June, pop over to have a look at our Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas.
What is the Summer Solstice?
Summer solstice is thus an astronomical event that occurs when one of Earth’s axis, or poles, is at its maximum tilt. This means that the sun reaches its highest point in the sky on the summer solstice, and is this is why it is also the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The reason for this cool fact is a super fun science lesson for kids. 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. It is the peak of the Solar year, with the Sun literally at the height of its life-giving power. After the summer solstice, the days continue to get shorter and shorter until the shortest day and the longest night of the year is reached on the winter solstice.
The number of daylight hours will get shorter and shorter until the day of the autumnal equinox, when day and night are said to be equal. Once the equinox is reached, the days will continue to get shorter and shorter until winter solstice. This makes the winter solstice occurs the shortest day of the year.
Related: Outdoor Activities for Kids
What is the difference between the Solstice and the Equinox?
The solstice marks the point in time that one of the Earth’s poles is in its maximum tilt toward the sun while the other is tilted away from the sun. The spring and fall equinoxes occur between the winter and summer solstices when day and night are approximately equal. Learn more about the spring and fall equinox 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. This means that if you live in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year 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.
Related: Summer Activities for Kids
How to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
Many cultures have held 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.
The Spiritual Meaning of Summer Solstice
The summer solstice symbolizes ascension and the rebirth or return of the light. Spiritually, the sun’s light is considered the same light that shines within each being on planet Earth.
For these reasons, summer solstice traditions also include rituals to help release old, dark energy. Consider the grand scope of your life and spiritual path and note what is both in and out of alignment.
It is also a great idea to focus or meditate upon the light to create more abundance in your life. May you reap an abundant inner and outer harvest!
Summer Solstice Traditions
Traditionally people celebrated renewal, life, fertility, the potential for a good harvest, inner and outer abundance, ascension, and the full return of the light of the sun on the summer solstice.
Today, people worldwide still celebrate the arrival of summer with outdoor feasts, singing, dancing, and bonfires. Scroll down to see a list of 18 summer solstice celebration ideas to help you join the fun!
18 Fun Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice in 2021
Make the most of the longest day and the shortest night of the year by celebrating the summer solstice with the fun ideas below!
Remember, this is not a MUST DO list but a FUN DO list. If it’s not fun, don’t do it! Find one or two things that you would like to do on this list, or use it to make up your own solstice ritual or celebration. Make it a solstice tradition, or find something different each year.
1. Visit Stonehenge or Watch The Stonehenge 2021 Live Stream Event!
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 directly into the center, the heart, of the monument. On the winter solstice, the effect is reversed, as the sunrise shines through the stones on the opposite side. Many experts believe that the ancient architects of Stonehenge purposefully placed each rock to showcase the solstices twice a year.
Traditionally, hundreds of visitors travel to Wiltshire, England, on the solstice to witness this magnificent event. Last year, unfortunately, the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge had to be canceled because of COVID-19. Instead, the summer solstice at Stonehenge was live-streamed for the first time in history.
In 2021, English Heritage hopes to offer a combined virtual and in-person event. The organizers will be live-streaming the solstice from sunset to sunrise for free so that those who are unable to join or feel nervous about attending an event with lots of people may still enjoy the occasion from the comfort and safety of their own home.
If the safety guidelines change for England or Wiltshire, however, plans will need to change. For this reason, organizers ask everyone who attends to be considerate of 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.
2. Bathe in the Light of the Sun
Visit a beach, pool, or park and bathe in the light of the sun for 20-30 minutes. Your own backyard would also be perfect! Be sure to apply chemical-free sunscreen, so you don’t get burned!
3. Design a Flower Crown
Making a flower crown is a traditional way to celebrate the summer solstice.
4. Make a Solstice Suncatcher
Suncatchers make a wonderful craft idea for the summer solstice. We love making suncatchers of all kinds to put in our windows and decorate our home. A suncatcher with a prism will help you capture the sun’s light to send rainbows all over the house, but the other ideas below are just as much fun!
- Rainbow Suncatcher with a Prism
- Heart Prism Suncatcher
- Flower Suncatcher Craft Ideas
- Rainbow Suncatcher Crafts
5. 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.
- How to Make a Mini Felt Sun | Bugs and Fishes
- Sunshine Weaving | The Nurture Store
- Sunburst Sensory Bottle
- Fingerprint Art Magnets – Make a Fingerprint Sun Magnet
- Easy Fingerprint Art Necklace – Make a Fingerprint Sun Necklace
- Fingerprint Art Keychain and Backpack Charms – Make a Fingerprint Sun Keychain
6. 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 potential of a good harvest than by getting out in the garden? Start a garden, bring new life to your garden by planting something new, or spend some time tending it and giving your plants the care they need. Use any of the gardening tutorials below to get started.
- How to Make A Fairy Garden
- How to 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
7. Enjoy Seasonal Arts, Crafts & Activities
Creating summer arts, crafts, and activities is a great way to celebrate the rebirth of light and the summer season. Here are a few summer art and craft ideas to get you started:
- Make a butterfly tree or some Monarch butterfly peg dolls.
- Enjoy this awesome collection of Flower art projects.
- Create shell sunflowers or shell daisies.
- Make mud pie mandalas.
- Human sundial shadow science experiment (My daughter and I are doing this science experiment on the solstices and equinoxes to see how our shadows change not only throughout the day but throughout the year. It’s been a super fun learning experience for both of us!)
- Create shadow sidewalk chalk art.
- Make easy-felt flowers or lei necklaces.
- Four seasons 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 tree. (photo below)
8. Add Summer Decor to your Home
Decorate your home with summer decor to welcome the light of the sun back into your home. Some of the seasonal crafts listed above, like a butterfly tree, would be perfect! You can also create your own Summer Nature Table.
9. Read Books about the Summer Solstice
Help your kids understand what the solstice is all about with any of these wonderful books about the summer solstice. 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
10. Visit a Local Berry Picking Farm
What better way to celebrate the sun than to eat juicy berries ripened by it? Please pop over to have a look at berry picking and wild foraging for kids for more information.
11. Have a Summer Solstice Feast
Invite friends and family over for a summer solstice feast filled with seasonal locally raised and grown foods. Visit your local farmer’s market, or local farm, to gather all the goodies you need for your solstice gathering!
12. Attend a Bonfire
Attending a solstice bonfire is a traditional way to celebrate the summer solstice. Dance, sing, beat drums, play music, and celebrate the official beginning of summer. Please be safe and follow city or county laws and regulations. For more information, see 10 Tips for a Safe Bonfire with Kids.
13. Practice Yoga and/or 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! Sun salutations (sun salutes) are a great way to honor the sun on the solstice. Have kids? Invite children to practice yoga with this list of FREE yoga videos for kids!
Practicing meditation and yoga is a great way to release old energy, welcome the light, and create inner and outer abundance as a part of your summer solstice celebration. You can even attend the summer solstice in Time Square, where the participants practice yoga from sunup to sundown.
Last year, however, Times Square did not have a yogathon. Like Stonehenge, organizers asked everyone to stay home to participate via webcast because of the coronavirus. But in 2021, again, like the organizers of the Stonehenge event, the organizers of the Time Square Summer Solstice Yogathon hope to offer a combined event. Learn more at the link below!
Find calm once again within the chaos of life in New York City. Solstice in Times Square will be returning this year for a combined virtual and in-person event on Sunday, June 20, 2021!Solstice in Time Square
14. Review and Renew Goals
The solstices and equinoxes are a great time of year to commit to a quarterly goal review. Having a summer solstice gathering? Invite your guest to join you in this activity as another 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
15. Set Intentions
After doing a goal review, write down your intentions or write a few affirmations. Think of an intention as things, ideas, or habits you would like to bring into your life, and an affirmation as a way to tell yourself that those intentions are already yours so that you can energize them into fruition. Once you have a few intentions and affirmations written down, state them daily for best results.
16. Begin Something New
The summer solstice is a great time of year 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 set 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 have a look at How to Set SMART Goals or purchase our Dream Life Tool Kit!
17. 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!
18. Get Outside & Connect
Get outside and connect with what matters on the solstice. Invite children to look for the signs of summer with this fun nature scavenger hunt idea. How many signs can you find that summer has arrived? For more information about Get Outside & Connect, click on the link. You might also enjoy this HUGE collection of outdoor activities for kids.
Related: Camp Kindness Summer Camp for Kids
Fun Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
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 more fun summer activities.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–>HERE