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.

Aschau Sonnwendfeier

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?

  • Setarra

    Wow! I didn’t even realize that there’s such a huge celebration all over Europe to celebrate summer solstice! Super cool and looks like a great time :)

  • Helene

    As if you’re life couldn’t get any better… This is fantastical. I have never been to an event like this but now it’s on the list!

  • Claire

    Absolutely nothing happened here in Hamburg. Which was actually better than last year when a neighbor played techno very loudly from dusk till dawn.

    • ifs ands & butts

      You should def try and get to Copenhagen next year for the summer solstice since it’s not too far – it was an amazing celebration!

  • haileyhiggs

    Looks like y’all had a great time in Karlsruhe, too!! I had never celebrated it before this year, but after experiencing the Sonnwendfeier on top of a mountain, I will definitely be looking for ways to celebrate it from now on!

  • TinainGermany

    Göttingen had a culture night, but it wasn’t nearly as awesome as your music awesomeness!

  • Elizabeth

    How much fun! Love the pics.

  • bevchen

    I love that Seán is your favourite pub customer! 😀 We saw the Treagles as well – I’ve been meaning to for AGES and it was the first time I actually made it. So worth it. Did you see Olli Roth (he was on before the Treagles, together with most of the Seán Treacy Band). I LOVE Olli and recommend him to everyone when he’s in Karlsruhe – which is sadly not often enough.

    • ifs ands & butts

      No I didn’t catch it unfortunately – Sean and his son John are playing at the pub on Wednesday, too :)

      • bevchen

        I know… pub is already planned in for Wednesday (AND Tuesday… quiz. *Sigh*).

  • kim

    looks so fun! see, maybe i’d love summer if we had some super fun celebration to kick it off. then again, i am a teacher (was a teacher!) so the last day of school is a pretty wild celebration!!

  • Andrew

    That is awesome. I kind of did nothing here in Rome and didn’t notice it as much of a big deal. I don’t think I remember seeing much going in Freiburg either. Though i can’t be sure, fuzzy memory and all that. Karlsruhe sounds like fun though.

  • Katrin

    Oh, I miss Europe! :)

  • Brea

    Coming from Alaska I’m used to summer solstice parties and love that they celebrate here too! I would love to celebrate with Scandinavian friends up North! Hopefully next year I can make it

  • Sara Louise

    And not only was it an awesome weekend, but the moon was AMAZING! Did you notice how big it was?!

    • ifs ands & butts

      It must have been cloudy in my parts, because how could I miss a super moon?!