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The best places to travel for the 2019 summer solstice

By Jenna Berndt

For centuries, the summer solstice has been celebrated around the world with various cultural festivals and experiences marking the longest day of the year. The meteorological start of summer, the solstice takes place twice each year, once in the Northern Hemisphere and once in the south. 

In 2019, the Northern Hemisphere will witness the summer solstice on Friday, June 21, and the Southern Hemisphere will experience its summer solstice on Sunday, December 22. 

Frequent traveller and Managing Director of The Travel Corporation South Africa, Teresa Richardson, shares her roundup of the best places to travel to celebrate the celestial milestone:


Northern Hemisphere summer solstice (June 21, 2019)


Stonehenge

Each year, thousands of visitors descend on Stonehenge to watch the sun rising over the ancient and mysterious stone circle on the longest day of the year. A four-day camping and live music festival, the Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival, will run from June 18 - 21 and is the closest you can get to staying at Stonehenge.

Celebrate solstice with the druids at Stonehenge
Sweden

Known as Midsommar in Sweden, the Swedes celebrate the emergence of the sun after a long, dark and cold winter with a Midsummer’s Day celebration. The first strawberries of the season are eaten, locals decorate maypoles and enjoy traditional dancing, often around bonfires. It is a happy and festive event that captures the locals' joy of the upcoming summer season. 


Iceland

Where better to celebrate the summer solstice than in a country where the sun doesn’t set, says Richardson. “In Reykjavík, from mid-May to mid-August, the sun will only set for about three hours each day, leading to the term midnight sun.”

Make the most of this surreal experience with other revellers at the Secret Solstice 2019 Festival, taking place from June 21 to 23 in 2019. Featuring some of the world's most prominent contemporary artists, visitors can enjoy the music and the midnight sun.

When the sun melts the ice in Iceland...

“While spotting the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is incredible (visitors have the greatest chance of seeing them during winter) in summer chasing the midnight sun is just as unforgettable,” says Richardson. “Take in the geysers, glaciers, the foodie hotspot of Reykjavík and soak up the summer revelry for an incredible holiday.”

For those who book any of Trafalgar’s guided holidays to the region for travel in 2019, such as the Northern Lights of Iceland trip, the brand's rand guarantee ensures that the rand price of your holiday is fixed. “So, no matter what the rand is doing, you won’t pay more for your holiday,” Richardson explains. 

Austria

A tradition that dates back to the Middles Ages takes us to the Tyrol region of Austria. Massive bonfires are lit on the mountainsides as the sun makes its slow descent.

Norway

The best places to chase the midnight sun is far north on the globe. You can’t get much further north than Longyearbyen, Norway, one of the northernmost cities in the world and an archipelago in the Arctic ocean. 

On the day of the summer solstice, the sun literally won’t go down over Longyearbyen - instead it will hover above the horizon, creating an incredible natural spectacle for travellers to marvel at.

Sunset, Norwegian style

Alaska

Just over 225 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, Alaskans, specifically those in the city of Fairbanks, know just how to ring in the summer solstice: by celebrating those seemingly never-ending hours of midnight sun.
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game and Festival, a twelve-hour long street fair, features live music from more than 30 acts and a baseball game starting at midnight.

Southern Hemisphere winter solstice (June 21, 2019)


Hobart

In Hobart, Tasmania, locals have found a rather cool way to celebrate the June solstice (or winter solstice in the southern hemisphere) which occurs in the depths of winter. At the end of the Dark Mofo Festival, an annual art and music festival taking place from June 14 to 23 June in 2019, brave locals will strip off and go skinny dipping in the Derwent River to celebrate the return of light after the longest night. 

Good morning Tasmania!
Cusco 

If you find yourself in Peru on June 24, there’s one festival you should bookmark, and that’s the Inti Raymi festival, celebrating the return of the sun to Cusco. During the time of the Inca Empire, as many as 25,000 people would attend to worship the sun during the dark winter. Today, it’s one of the largest and most colourful Inca celebrations in the world. 


Catch the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere (December 21/22, 2018)

This year the summer or December solstice occurs on December 22 and marks the longest day and shortest night in the Southern Hemisphere. Here’s where to celebrate:

Camdeboo National Park, Karoo

Known as the Valley of Desolation, the breathtaking Camdeboo National Park surrounding the town of Graff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, is a surreal place to take in the summer solstice. Enjoy sunrise or sunset surrounded by nothing but towering columns of rock and semi-arid desert stretching all the way to the horizon, with only the sounds of nature breaking the stillness. 

Karoo sunset. A real mic dropper
Cape Town

It would be a challenge to find a more scenic spot than Cape Town to admire the sun eventually setting after the longest day. Take a drive up Chapman’s Peak or Signal Hill, or hike up Lion’s Head and watch the sun setting over the Atlantic.

Uluru

Plan your summer solstice celebrations for 2019 with a trip Down Under. Take in the sun setting or rising over Australia’s famous, World Heritage Site, Uluru – a massive sandstone formation that has for centuries, had profound spiritual significance for indigenous Australians. 

Uluru sunrise


Start planning your 2019 summer solstice travel! Contact your Sure Travel agent, or call 0861 47 48 49 / email bookings@suretravel.co.za

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