The best weekend in Europe just happened, as it does yearly when the summer solstice/Midsummer (June 21) and therefore “longest day “occurs. On this weekend, Europe explodes. It is generally warm across the entire continent and the weekend brings everyone outdoors to the one of the many festivals and celebrations taking over the entire continent.
In 2010, I happened upon the Scandanavian Midsummer’s Eve celebrations in Copenhagen, Denmark. All along the coastline of the nordic nations, bonfires float in the water and burn on the beaches. People flock to the streets with drinks and music to celebrate the extra long day. The sun set around 04:00 this day; it was maybe one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had, but it sure made for the perfect party environment – you just never get tired.
In France (and other countries), the entire nation erupts into one giant music festival. Fête de La Musique (World Music Day), which began in 1982 in Paris, is a way to promote both amateur and professional musicians, who all take to their instruments to the streets to celebrate their passion. All musicians donate their time and are encouraged to take to the streets, all for free! Just grab some Bordeaux and walk the streets to hear some all kinds of live music.
At Stonehenge in England, over 20,000 participants stay up on Midsummer to observe the sunrise over the world-famous landmark.
My friend Hailey in southern Bavaria celebrated the solstice atop Aschau’s mountain with an incredible sunset and bonfire.
Here ’round my parts on the Sommersonnenwende, Karlsruhe celebrate it’s 298th birthday with a 3-day festival around the Karlsruhe Schloss at the city’s center. There were concerts the entire day on the big stage, one on Saturday night featured my favorite pub customer, Sean Treacy and his Eagles cover band, The Treagles (get it?). There was also a bike race, a tribute to Carl Benz (yes, that Benz is from here) with a classic car rally, food stands – Langos included, train rides and obstacle courses for the kids, and just good ole Karlsruhe-Schlossgarten-style hanging out.
The weekend of the summer solstice (June 21) always yields amazing celebrations across Europe. It’s a spectacular time to visit, and if you do, make sure you seek out the nearest festival.
Do you know of any summer solstice celebrations?