Summer is almost here in all her glory. The nights are shorter, the morning’s warmer and there’s a certain sense of excitement in the air that only reveals itself when the sun comes out. The summer solstice on June 20th officially marks the first day of summer, an occasion that has been revered for centuries and one that is still honoured today. As the longest day of the year approaches, people across the northern hemisphere will be readying themselves to pay homage to this age-old celebration. In light of this, Essential Travel has put together some ideas to make sure that your summer solstice is the very best start to your summer.
UNDERSTAND THE SIGNIFICANCE
The Summer Solstice technically refers to a moment in time when the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun, resulting in the Northern Hemisphere experiencing the longest day of the year. Culturally, many civilisations throughout history celebrated this day as the beginning of summer, a fertility rite, or a renewal of life. Contemporary celebrations range from performing traditional rituals to taking pleasure in the maximum hours of sunlight.
DECIDE WHERE TO EXPERIENCE THE SOLSTICE
Weather permitting, the solstice can be enjoyed just about anywhere. The best way to really honour the significance of it, however, is to experience it in a place of natural beauty or somewhere of personal significance to you. On this day, in particular, few places in the world rival the enchantment of Stonehenge. This ancient religious site attracts tens of thousands of people for the solstice each year, who watch in awe as the iconic stone structures align perfectly with the rising sun. The prevalence of clear-skies over Stonehenge also affords one a phenomenal opportunity for stargazing, the perfect way to usher out the day.
CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST
The Solstice may signify the first day of summer, but the weather doesn’t always adhere to this. Whether you’re travelling somewhere new or camping at your favourite spot, remember to check the forecast to be properly prepared.
Not to sound like a scout leader, but being sufficiently prepared will ensure you can enjoy the day no matter what happens. Depending on how you to choose to experience the solstice, you might want to consider taking some of these key items:
- a camera (with a fully charged battery)
- a blanket
- firewood (and matches or a lighter)
WATCH THE SUNRISE
Sunrise on the summer solstice is not to be missed. By experiencing the sunrise on this propitious occasion, you’ll be a part of one of the most culturally and spiritually significant days throughout history and to this day: The rising sun not only ushers in summer, but is also a symbol of the spiritual renewal that is associated with this season. Moreover, by waking up in time to watch it, you’ll be able to make the most of the extended daylight hours.
SPEND TIME OUTSIDE
With almost 17 hours of light, the Summer Solstice lends itself to a day outdoors. Why not head to your favourite picnic spot, do some gardening, or go on that camping trip you’ve been thinking about. Basically, take the time to soak up the beauty of nature from dawn til dusk.
MAKE A BONFIRE
Many cultures across the world celebrate the solstice with bonfires. The fire is intended to emulate the sun and has been revered throughout history as a symbol of life. Whether or not you feel a spiritual affinity to this day, why not take the opportunity to relax and get back to your roots by spending time with family or friends around the fire.
STAY UP LATE
With the sun breaking onto the horizon at 04:42 on June 20th, the occasion really lends itself to staying awake the night before to ensure that you don’t miss the sunrise. Here are a few simple tips to help you orchestrate the perfect all-nighter:
- Invite mates over
- Have a good meal
- Play your favourite music
- Play some games
- Build a bonfire
- Organise plenty of blankets and refreshments, dawn is bound to be chilly
TAKE EYE-SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Without adequate protection, looking directly at the sun can cause serious damage to your eyes. Sunglasses and polarising filters will not offer sufficient protection against the harmful rays. Take care when viewing the solstice by making sure to use a solar filter on your telescope, binoculars or camera, or look through shade 14 welder’s glasses.
FORGET TO PLAN
The significance of this day almost affords one the luxury of travelling somewhere to really soak up all its historical relevance, but don’t forget to book well in advance to secure a spot wherever you decide to go.
Last Updated: June 2012