Dancing away the summer solstice
Midsummer Day, sometimes called St John’s Day for non-pagans, is celebrated in countries across the world but is very popular in Northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. No matter where you go in this part of the world you are likely to come across celebrations for Midsummer Day, which is the longest day of the year. In Denmark, locals flock to beaches and parks for parties lit by bonfire, and in Estonia they take it a step further by jumping over the fire. Finnish celebrations are also marked with bonfires with big celebrations in the countryside and in Lithuania, the singing and dancing carries on into the morning.
Some of Midsummer Day’s biggest celebrations are found in Latvia and Sweden. In Sweden, Midsummer or Midsommar has been traced back to the 1500s and today, typically marks the start of many people’s summer holidays. On Midsummer Eve, cities like Stockholm become eerily quiet as everyone flocks to the countryside to prepare for the celebration ahead. For locals, the day begins picking flowers and making wreaths and maypoles (midsommar stang) that are used for traditional ring-dances for children. Another fun traditional game is sitting on a plank of wood and hitting your opponent with a pillow until one of you falls off. On top of beer and schnapps, dinner is a delicious affair often featuring pickled herring, potatoes, and grilled meat on the barbecue. Dancing and other festivities follow this, typically outside and by a lake or on the beach. Many believe Midsummer Day is a magical time for love, a legend that dates back many summers.
When is it?
Tips and tricks
Midsummer Day is hugely popular in Northern Europe. Student Flights can help book transfers, accommodation and other handy things for you well in advance.
In Sweden, Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day is celebrated on the Friday and Saturday that falls between June 19 to 26 - the date changes every year.
A celebration of summer is best spent outdoors - forget the big cities and head to the countryside or coastal areas for the biggest parties and festivities.
Just because it’s light outside, doesn’t mean it’s still early. In some places the sun doesn’t set for summer solstice, so pace yourself, and your schnapps.
If you’re planning on going about your normal travel during this period, it pays to check if normal trading for attractions, transport and shops will be interrupted where you are.
BYO drinks – in many places you are expected to bring your own drinks to the celebrations, but not if you are visiting restaurants.