The Summer Solstice is all about the sun, so really, being outside is a great way to celebrate, no matter what you’re doing! But if you’re looking for ways to specifically enjoy the longest day of the year and the joy of sunshine (if you’re in the northern hemisphere), here are a few Summer Solstice activity ideas to get you started.
Summer Solstice Activities for families
Some popular summer solstice activities for families include having a picnic in the park, going for a hike or nature walk, attending a music festival or outdoor concert, having a bonfire or backyard barbecue, watching the sunset or sunrise together, stargazing, or participating in a yoga or meditation session.
1. Take a Bike Ride
Getting out in the sunshine, enjoying the warm air, and getting some exercise at the same time is a great way to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
2. Learn about the Summer Solstice
Curious as to why the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year or how others around the world have celebrated the solstice throughout history?
Head to the library or look up an educational website (like Wikipedia) and answer some questions!
You could also dive into how the planets are aligned and how they rotate around the sun by using balls outside in the yard as models.
3. Go for a Hike
It’s likely one of your local parks has trails to hike. Get into the woods and explore all the plants that have come back to life during this new season.
You could bring along some trail guides to help identify the budding trees and plants or use your binoculars to identify any birds you may spot.
READ MORE: Tips for successful family hikes
4. Watch the Sunrise
Another fun idea (if you’re an early riser) would be to head out for a sunrise walk. Given the Summer Solstice is a day to celebrate the sun, what better way to wake and enjoy welcoming it that morning! If you choose to do this, you’ll have the most enjoyment finding a location with a clear view of the sunrise: the shore of a large body of water, a high hill, or even a city rooftop.
Make it extra special and bring along a breakfast snack with hot tea or cocoa to enjoy together.
5. Go Play in the Sunshine
Open fields and parks should have plenty of sunshine (as long as it’s not too cloudy) and hopefully a nice breeze that will be perfect for kite flying and appreciating the sun! If the breeze just isn’t cooperating, enjoy the sunshine with giant lawn games, frisbee, bocce ball, or beanbag toss or cornhole, if you live in the midwest).
What Are Some Summer Solstice Rituals for families?
1. Take a special trip to observe the Sunrise
Like suggested above, but you could plan a special trip to see the sunrise from a special historical location. Especially beautiful and fascinating at a place like Stonehenge and Mayan or Incan temples which marked the solstice locations. While this isn’t as easy as a morning hike from home, a trip like this would create life-long memories!
2. Construct a May Pole and Learn some Folk Dances
Maypole dancing is a traditional dance that celebrates the arrival of spring and the beginning of the growing season. It is often associated with May Day festivities and is a way to honor the natural cycles of the earth and the renewal of life.
Our local preschool has done variations of the maypole dance and kids always have such a fun time weaving the ribbons around the maypole. Below is a video of a school preforming their maypole dance.
3. Make Flower Crowns
Sweden and Latvia are known for celebrating the solstice by creating flower crowns for the ladies (or leafier ones for men).
If you have an abundance of dandelions, you and your kids could use these to fashion into crowns by braiding or weaving the stems together into a loop. Or, there is a more detailed flower crown description below.
You might notice in the above video that some of the children have made paper crowns.
4. Have a Bonfire
Places in the UK and Ireland and those with Northern European heritage often continue to celebrate the Summer Solstice with bonfire parties.
Click here to visit a page from the History Channel with more information on how the solstice and fire are connected, and how the solstice has been and is currently celebrated around the world.
What do you eat for the Summer Solstice when celebrating with kids?
In many cultures, the summer solstice is a time to feast and enjoy fresh, seasonal ingredients. Some traditional foods that are often eaten during summer solstice celebrations include fish, grilled meats and vegetables, fresh fruit and berries, salads, breads and pastries made with summer herbs and spices, and beverages like mead or fruit-infused water.
Some people will celebrate by baking sun bread – yummy bread shaped into the sun!
Charcuterie is a great way to celebrate – grab lots of fresh fruits, veggies, cheeses, and crackers and enjoy an outdoor meal… make this fun by designing the platter in the shape of the sun!
For dessert, look up some recipes or use a tried and true sugar cookie recipe and decorate them with suns to celebrate! Or light and seasonal desserts like strawberry shortcake (using angel food cake, cool whip, and strawberries or any berries) can be a perfect end to a Summer Solstice meal.
Summer Solstice Activities and Crafts for Kids
Here are a few crafty ideas to get your kids excited for the Summer Solstice:
1. Sun Prints
Here are three different ways to use the sun to create art. The simplest is the first, just allowing the sun to bleach the colored paper around the placed objects, the second idea is a bit more involved, but you’re end product will be more detailed and bolder. The third project will need some specialty supplies and older kids might enjoy understanding the science behind the paper and light.
2. Flower Crowns
Flower crowns are a fun way to celebrate the summer solstice and all the life that is erupting from the ground!
For this fun project, you’ll need fake flowers of your choice, wrapped floral wire, floral tape, and wire clippers.
For the flowers, you don’t need a ton and the smaller the better. Even the small flowers can look huge on a little kid’s head! Go for the better looking (more expensive, most likely) flowers, since you don’t need much. Don’t forget the greenery!
Using fake flowers means the flower crown will last well past the Summer Solstice, and can be used yearly if. But, fresh flowers are lovely and, as long as you’re picking flowers responsibly, may be a better choice for the Earth.
What better way to celebrate the sun than to make some suncatchers to hang in your windows!
Your kids can make simple tissue paper suncatchers with construction paper and tissue paper.
Instructions for making tissue paper sun catchers:
- Draw a large shape like a heart, star, or butterfly onto the construction paper.
- Draw an inside line about an inch away – creating a frame for the suncatcher.
- Add a second piece of construction paper behind the first
- With two pieces of construction paper together, cut out your frame
- One piece of paper will be the front, one the back
- Tear or cut the tissue paper into pieces
- Apply glue to the frame and stick on the tissue paper pieces
- Overlapping tissue paper will add interesting colour variations
- When the middle of the frame is covered with tissue paper, apply glue to the inside of the second frame and paste that down onto the piece
- Cut any pieces of tissue paper which might be sticking out past the frame.
A simpler version uses contact paper as one side of your suncatcher without the need to glue anything, just stick the tissue paper to the contact paper.
The summer solstice is a wonderful opportunity for families to celebrate the longest day of the year and create lasting memories together. Whether you choose to observe this special occasion with outdoor activities like hiking, a picnic, or a bonfire, or with indoor activities like crafting, reading, and cooking, there are plenty of ways to make the most of this special day.
By spending time together and enjoying the beauty of nature, I hope you’ve found some suggestions to make the summer solstice a time of joy and connection for you and your family.