6 of the Best Destinations to Celebrate Midsummer in Europe

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 16, 2024 23:00 PMNews
green cross under blue sky
green cross under blue sky. Source: unsplash

As the length of the day reaches its maximum, Europe is preparing to mark midsummer. Here are the best places to join in with the revelries.

Marked on or around the longest day of the year — the summer solstice — midsummer is celebrated across Europe, especially in the north. The mystery surrounding the day means it’s difficult to say with certainty why or when these celebrations began, though folklore points towards farming and harvesting traditions to thank the sun for a fruitful year.

The celebrations today are still firmly rooted in local lore. Whether you want to commemorate by joining events steeped in tradition or party at a festival with thousands of others, here are some of the best destinations to celebrate midsummer in Europe.

1. Stockholm, Sweden

Midsummer celebrations are an integral part of Swedish culture and traditions. The origins of the festival in Sweden began with people decorating their homes and dancing around maypoles to celebrate the season of fertility.

Today, Swedes flock to the countryside with family and friends. If you don’t have any Swedish friends who can bring you along to the celebrations, Stockholm hosts several public midsummer events for visitors. Families visiting the capital should head to Skansen open-air museum for folk music, flower and birch wreath making, and the central event — the raising of the maypole. Alternatively, take a 75-minute boat trip to Grinda island for celebrations lasting until the early hours. In 2024, Midsummer Eve in Sweden is marked on June 21.

2. Stonehenge, England

While it might at first seem an unlikely destination to celebrate midsummer, it’s perhaps one of the best to visit for historical relevance. Built around 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge’s standing stones align with the sun on both the summer and winter solstices, making for an ethereal and magical sight.

Though there are no specific activities at Stonehenge on the day, crowds gather in the thousands to see the spectacle of the sun rising behind the Heel Stone right into the heart of the structure, and to witness senior druid King Arthur Pendragon conducting a service at the historical site, as he does on every solstice. This year, the spectacular sunrise arrives on the morning of June 21.

3. Oslo, Norway

While midsummer isn’t a public holiday in Norway as it is in Sweden and the events aren’t as extravagant, the day is still marked with outdoor parties and bonfires. In fact, Norwegians take their fires so seriously that the world’s largest open-air fire was built by the residents of Ålesund in 2016 for midsummer.

Typically, an animal effigy is set alight on the fjord waters of Sukkerbiten, and various other public events take place at the Norwegian Folk Museum, including yodeling, wreath making, and horse and carriage rides. Midsummer Eve, or Sankthansaften, is celebrated on June 23.

4. Riga, Latvia

Jāņi, as it’s known locally, is a pagan festival that’s still marked every year. This year, it takes place overnight from June 23-24. The joyous festivities celebrate nature, with locals making wreaths from oak leaves and wildflowers and lighting bonfires. The mysticism associated with midsummer runs deep in Latvia, with many still believing in a whole host of folk traditions. For example, plants picked on the summer solstice are said to have the power to heal diseases and ward off evil spirits, while bathing in the morning dew is said to bring beauty and youth.

The capital city, Riga, offers countless public events throughout the day and night, from a midsummer fair in the Old Town to a free outdoor ball in a park with live music and food.

5. Barcelona, Spain

In Spain’s second city and throughout Catalonia, midsummer is celebrated from the evening of June 23 to the following day, as the Feast of Sant Joan. Marking the start of summer, the events revolve around fire, water, and herbs — the three symbols of Sant Joan. The city is lit by fireworks and fires lining the streets throughout the night and, as with Latvian traditions, the holistic properties of herbs are said to multiply on this night.

The beach is the best place to be during the celebrations — restaurant tables line up across the beachfront, picnics are dotted around the sand, and pop-up firework shops throughout the city ensure the night goes off with a bang.

6. Iceland

Icelandic folklore says the summer solstice blurs the lines between the worlds as we know them — animals can speak and turn human, and a roll about in wet grass can heal diseases.

Though there are no promises of a conversation with our four-legged friends, the Summer Solstice Festival in Reykjavík, taking place over June 23-25, isn’t just a music festival. Expect a breathtaking rave inside a glacier or, for a slightly warmer alternative, a party in geothermal springs. The festival also includes tours to the natural wonders of Iceland, sharing ancient stories along the way.

Top Articles
The best resorts in Colorado for 2024: from luxury mountain getaways with direct access to the slopes to gorgeous resort spas with hot springs

The best resorts in Colorado for 2024: from luxury mountain getaways with direct access to the slopes to gorgeous resort spas with hot springs

Jul 22, 2024 13:07 PM
Top 5 best Vienna hotels travelers recommend: with superb restaurants, exclusive spas and attractions at your doorstep

Top 5 best Vienna hotels travelers recommend: with superb restaurants, exclusive spas and attractions at your doorstep

Jul 22, 2024 08:05 AM

Top 40 hotels in Paris: from luxury spa hotels and trendy designer boutiques to historic townhouses and legendary urban hideaways

Jul 21, 2024 19:04 PM

The Aerial is an all-inclusive luxury resort in the British Virgin Islands, from its unique approach to wellness to its charitable missions

Jul 21, 2024 13:11 PM
More News
A steam train on tracks in Swanage

New "Sunset Shuttle" Service Launches in Swanage

Jul 22, 2024 12:30 PM
Boats on a calm sea with mountainous background in Marmaris, Turkey

Tragedy Strikes Off the Coast of Marmaris: Yacht "Eagles" Catches Fire

Jul 22, 2024 10:30 AM

Emergency Landing Diverts Ryanair Flight to Dublin

Jul 22, 2024 08:30 AM

New Weekend Bus Service Opens Gateway to Peterborough's Ferry Meadows for Travelers

Jul 22, 2024 06:30 AM
Railroad tracks and platform with moss, surrounded by trees

Vermont Unveils Longest Rail Trail in New England, Now Open for Adventure

Jul 22, 2024 04:30 AM
French flag on a boat on the Seine in Paris

Paris Mayor Swims in Seine to Prove Water Cleanliness for Olympics

Jul 22, 2024 02:30 AM
A tourist with a backpack sits in front of a famous rock

Essential Advice for British Nationals Visiting Thailand

Jul 22, 2024 00:05 AM
Passengers waiting at the airport after flight cancellations

Airlines Struggle to Recover from Major IT Outage

Jul 21, 2024 22:30 PM
Close-up of a white llama's head

Emotional Support Llamas Delight Travelers at Portland Airport

Jul 21, 2024 20:30 PM

24-Hour Transport Service Enhances Night Travel in Greater Manchester

Jul 21, 2024 18:30 PM

Summer Memory Train 2024 Brings Joy and Connection to Travelers

Jul 21, 2024 16:30 PM
A tube train illuminated at night in a modern Uxbridge station

Experience History with the Return of the 1938 Art Deco Tube Train

Jul 21, 2024 14:30 PM
An orange lifebuoy hanging on a metal structure by the water

SS United States Conservancy Seeks Extension for Ocean Liner Relocation, Offering More Summer Tours

Jul 21, 2024 12:30 PM
Yesnaby Castle sea stack on Orkney cliffs

2025 Island Games: A Grand Sporting Event in Orkney

Jul 21, 2024 10:30 AM
The best resorts in South Carolina, from rustic mini hotels to beachfront boutique hotels and luxury resort spas

The best resorts in South Carolina, from rustic mini hotels to beachfront boutique hotels and luxury resort spas

Jul 21, 2024 09:11 AM

Ryanair Wins Major Legal Battle Against Booking.com in Delaware Court

Jul 21, 2024 08:30 AM

Medellin Implements No-Fly List and Reopens Key Metro Cable Line

Jul 21, 2024 06:30 AM
Brussels Airlines plane with special livery

Brussels Airlines Flies Music Fans to Tomorrowland for 12th Year

Jul 21, 2024 04:30 AM
An old, red brick building in Nottingham with a bus and pedestrians in front

Nottingham's Bus Network Overhaul: A Boon for Travelers

Jul 21, 2024 02:30 AM
A person waiting on the platform at station with a train in the background

New Mosaic at Ware Station Enhances Traveler Experience

Jul 21, 2024 00:05 AM
A First Glasgow bus, a cyclist, and other vehicles on a street in Glasgow with buildings in the background

First Glasgow Fare Adjustments: What Travelers Should Expect

Jul 20, 2024 22:30 PM
Construction workers in orange vests working on railway track upgrades with machinery on site

Essential Oxford Rail Upgrades: Travel Advisory for Passengers

Jul 20, 2024 20:30 PM

Pas de Calais: France's New Fine Dining Destination

Jul 20, 2024 18:30 PM

Top 10 best Airbnbs in the US for romantic vacations: from a treehouse over a pond and a luxury tent to a cozy mountain cabin and a beach retreat

Jul 20, 2024 17:07 PM
Dawn at Laguardia Airport

US Customs Seizes 90 Invasive Snails at Detroit Metro Airport

Jul 20, 2024 16:30 PM
Paamiut, Capital Region

Discover Greenland’s Stunning Trail of Inuit and Viking Farming Traditions

Jul 20, 2024 14:30 PM