The Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – is an annual event designed to confound nocturnal animals and make vampires really hungry. Although you can celebrate it anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, some places use the extended daylight as an excuse to throw a whopping great party. You wouldn’t want to miss a whopping great party, would you?
Here are the best places in the world to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
This mysterious 4,100-year-old stone formation has become a global focal point for midsummer festivities. People flock from all over the world to party through the night and welcome the sun as it creeps up over the “Heel Stone,” an alignment that’s close to perfect.
20,000 people are expected to show up, from hippies to backpackers to yuppies and more. You’ll even meet people in long white robes who claim to be druids.
If you can’t travel on the Solstice itself, this is the perfect place to recreate the experience throughout the summer. Longyearbyen is the northernmost city in the world, and when the sun rises in April it decides to stick around until August. Better keep hold of your complimentary airline eye mask.
If that sounds like too much daylight to handle, October sees the sun disappear completely until March, which drastically increases your chances of stumbling across a polar bear in the darkness.
The capital of Iceland (the northernmost capital in the world) will experience 72 continuous hours of sunlight between June 20th-22nd, which is of course the perfect excuse to throw a massive party (Icelanders don’t need much of an excuse).
Most bars downtown stay open late into the night/morning to satisfy the keenest revellers, and a new music festival will provide a focal point for the celebration across the three days. Sleep is very much optional.
The Pyramids of Giza
You can, and should, visit these incredible bucket-list mainstays at any time of year, but doing so on the Summer Solstice will provide an extra treat to the usual scene.
As the sun belatedly sets, it slips below the horizon precisely between the two largest pyramids, offering up a picture postcard dusk spectacle. Just be prepared to fight to the death with a throng of tourists to snap the perfect photo.
The Solstice is steeped in Celtic tradition, so there are few better places to appreciate an old-fashioned midsummer than the isle of Orkney.
The Standing Stones of Stenness loom 19 feet tall, and stand only a mile north-west of the Ring of Brodgar, another henge consisting of 27 smaller stones. What role they played in Solstice celebrations aren’t entirely clear, but they remain a focal point for smaller-scale festivities every year.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Enjoying around 19 hours of daylight at midsummer, St. Petersburg takes advantage of the extended daytime by throwing the White Nights Festival, a series of ballet, opera, and musical events, featuring big celebrity names both domestic and international.
Of course this wouldn’t be Russia without some serious drinking; local bars and restaurants stay open late – or don’t close at all – throughout the city, allowing you to make the most of this superlative Solstice.