It’s no secret that the world’s most famous summer solstice celebration is at the prehistoric monument known as Stonehenge. Last year, an estimated 10,000 people visited for the solstice, with 200,000 more watching it livestreamed. Although this British cultural icon is a bucket list for most every traveler, it might be too late to visit this year. In light of this upcoming astronomical event, there are several celebrations in America. To be sure, there are solstice celebrations in most any city in the U.S. On the other hand, there are others that are so good these need to be on your midsummer radar.
Center of the Universe/Fremont Neighborhood
Seattle, WA 98103
Dates: June 18-19, 2022
Hours: Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday Solstice Parade at 2 p.m.
What better way to celebrate the summer solstice in Seattle than the Fremont neighborhood? For starters, Fremont Fair has the largest outdoor summer market in the city, with over 300 vendors. That’s not to mention great food and live music from local bands on both days. For another, there is the lively Fremont Solstice Parade, with marching bands, floats and more. That’s to say nothing of the popular painted cyclists whose only requirement is to wear a bike helmet. The art and crafts fair extends across six blocks and will also feature outstanding food and beer garden. The Solstice Parade begins on Saturday at 2 p.m. while a Dog Parade follows on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Coney Island USA
1208 Surf Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Date: June 18, 2022
Hours: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Afterparty 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
In a city full of dazzling parades, the Mermaid Parade might be the most celebratory. Held since 1983, it’s expected to be better than ever to Coney Island. After all, it draws over 500,000 spectators and is America’s largest art parade. With that in mind, make sure you get there in time to enjoy this raucous event. The Mermaid Parade starts at 1 p.m. on Surf Avenue then passes iconic amusement rides like the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel. In all, you will see about 3,000 participants colorfully dressed as mermaids or mermen. If that’s not enough, you will also see a King Neptune and Mermaid Queen!
Mermaid Parade Afterparty
If you are looking for something fun to do after the day’s festivities, head over to Coney Island Brewery. That’s where the official after party is being held and tickets are on sale now. You can purchase general admission tickets for $25, while VIP admission is $75. At the afterparty, there will be live bands along with dancers to entertain you. Most of all, there is so much to do in Coney Island, whether it’s an amusement ride or that obligatory hot dog from Nathan’s Famous.
Midnight Sun Fest
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Date: June 18, 2022
Hours: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., Midnight Sun Baseball Game at 10:30 p.m.
Of all the popular summer solstice celebrations in the U.S., the Fairbanks festival may be the most unusual. Although there are other solstice events across Alaska, such as in Anchorage, Fairbanks is slightly different. For example, Anchorage, the state’s largest city gets 22 hours of daylight on the summer solstice. Even though 22 hours daylight is impressive, Fairbanks gives you a full 24 hours of daylight! In observance of this phenomenon, downtown Fairbanks hosts the 12-hour Midnight Sun Festival. With 10,000 to 18,000 people attending, this festival is the largest single day event in Alaska. In addition to the festival featuring live music and food is the Midnight Sun Baseball Game. Held for over 100 years, this ballgame is among America’s top baseball events for fans. Coinciding with these events is the 40th Midnight Sun Run at 10 p.m.
Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration
Santa Barbara, CA 93121
Date: June 24-25, 2022
Hours: Festival at Alameda Park, June 24 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., June 25 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Parade June 25 at 12 p.m.
It may come as a surprise to you, but California’s best summer solstice celebration is not in Los Angeles. In fact, it’s not even in San Francisco or San Diego. Instead, the best is about 100 miles north of LA in Santa Barbara. Moreover, this solstice event has been going on for nearly 50 years and draws 100,000. The parade begins at noon on Saturday and will feature over 1,000 energetic participants. But not only is there a parade but an admission free festival with food, crafts and live music. In addition, the festival will also feature a beer and wine garden for those 21 and over. With all this in mind, make sure to get there early for the parade. On the other hand, for families with children, there will also be a children’s parade on Sunday.
Summer Soulstice Milwaukee
East Side Neighborhood
2140 N. Prospect Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Date: June 18, 2022
Hours: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Not to be mistaken with Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Summer Soulstice is the city’s best local music festival. Indeed, not only is it the best, it’s the city’s largest free music festival. With that in mind, many of the best local talent will be showcased here, including DJs at the Black Cat Alley stage. That’s not to mention the gourmet food and merchandise vendors that will on hand from noon to midnight. In all, there will be live music on three stages and includes performances by NilexNile, Klassik and more. Be that as it may, Soulstice is not the only event happening on the longest day of the year. That’s because Summerfest, one of the world’s largest, is happening on three consecutive weekends beginning June 23.
Related: Europe’s Best Summer Music Festivals
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.