6 Solstice Festivals To Help You Escape The Winter Blues This June
Summer is over. The dark, cold, miserable days of winter lie ahead. No! You don't have to think that way. That's just a state of mind. OK, so it's also the state of the thermometer and the position of Earth in relation to the sun ... but nerdy scientific details aside – winter is just a state of mind.
Change your mindset and choose to celebrate this June. Take yourself to a solstice festival to embrace the changing seasons – that could be a winter or a summer festival, depending on which hemisphere you choose. Here are 6 of the best solstice celebrations.
1. Inti Raymi
What: Celebrate the Festival of the Sun the traditional Incan way (but hold the animal sacrifice)
Where: Cuzco, Peru
When: The week leading up to the big event on June 24, 2015
The ancient Incas were some pretty serious sun worshippers. So it's no wonder they centred one of their most important festivals around the shortest day of the year and the ushering in of the new, sun-filled year.
Since 1944, Inti Raymi celebrations on June 24 centre around a lavish re-enactment of Incan traditions and rituals. Actors representing the Sun King and his wife are carried on thrones from Cuzco to the ancient site of Sacsayhuaman, surrounded by a lavish procession of costumed performers and revellers. Once at Sacsayhuaman, there's some speech making and the event culminates in a ritual llama sacrifice (don't panic, it's just a re-enactment).
In the week leading up to the formal ceremony, there's also lots of fun – street performers, food, music and dancing make this a great festival to be a part of.
2. Secret Solstice
What: Party all night at the midnight sun music festival
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
When: June 19-21, 2015
This is a new festival – run for the first time in 2014 – so if you are looking to get in on the new cool, get on board Secret Solstice.
Being so far north, the sun literally does not set for the three days of this summer festival. That's 72 continuous hours of sunshine. There's no halt in the celebrations as 150 artists take to the stage and the days blur together in a haze of music, dancing and Reyka vodka.
And once the party's over and you've had some sleep – wake up! You're in Iceland! Take a look around this spectacular country. But perhaps lay off the vodka for a couple of days.
3. Dark Mofo Winter Arts and Music Festival
What: Celebrate the cold depths of winter in uber-cool style
Where: Hobart, Australia
When: June 12-22, 2015
Instead of trying to beat the cold and the dark, the good folk of Hobart are embracing it. They are donning their coats and scarves and heading into the city to say “Screw you, chilliness! We out doing dis thang.” (People in Hobart always talk like that.)
There are loads of performances – arts, music, film – and foodie treats, with the city's top chefs contributing plenty of fare. The popular Mofo Winter Feast is a lavish, three-night banquet on the banks of the Derwent River. It's probably a tad warmer than the also-popular Nude Solstice Swim, where hundreds of punters strip off in the frosty morning air to take a dip in the Derwent at sunrise. Brrrr.
What: Practice your air guitar at this massive music festival – 11 days, 800 acts and 900,000 people
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
When: June 24-28 and June 30-July 5, 2015
Milwaukee is more than just the home of Richie Cunningham and the Fonz. It's also the home of the world's largest music festival.
In the 1960s, Henry Maier, the then mayor of Milwaukee, visited Oktoberfest in Munich. It started him thinking about a festival as a way to bring life back to Milwaukee's downtown area and bring the community together. He created Summerfest in the summer of 1968 – and hit the nail smack on the head. The festival hasn't stopped growing since then.
The 30-hectare venue is on the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee and has massive, purpose-built venues and facilities to house this epic event. While acts are still being signed, confirmed performers for 2015 include the Kings of Leon, Ed Sheeran, Keith Urban and Linkin Park.
5. Queenstown Winter Fest
What: Embrace the silliness of the snowy season
Where: Queenstown, New Zealand
When: June 19-28, 2015
One of the biggest welcoming-winter celebrations in the southern hemisphere, this family-friendly festival is all about having fun.
There are winter sports competitions – night skiing, snow-boarding, snow mountain biking and the Mountain Mayhem event, which includes a race down the mountainside on suitcases. There are also non-snow-based events, such as Frisbee golf, 1970s disco workout, fireworks, a birdman event, comedy shows, music and lots more kooky stuff. All in the name of winter fun.
6. Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
What: Join the hippies and druids for sunrise at this mysterious ancient monolith
Where: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
When: June 21, 2015
A New-Age festival called Stonehenge Summer Free Festival used to bring in the new season at Stonehenge with a bunch of hippies, druids and assorted odd-balls. But after a serious clash with police in 1985, the festival was abandoned.
Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge were re-opened in 1999, but today it's a much more sedate affair – there's no festival as such, and there's no shortage of police on site. But that doesn't stop 20,000 sun-lovers staging a big Stonehenge sleep-over to watch the sun rise over these mysterious stones.
Druid-y folk in cloaks conduct ancient ceremonies, while others just sit, wrapped in a blanket, to watch the sunrise. There's camaraderie and an almost sacred community vibe here. It's not a party, but more of a privilege and a nod of respect towards our glorious seasons and our ancient ancestors.
Talk to us for more winter-escaping advice and inspiration.