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WREATHS, bonfires and barefoot walks: 8 creative ways to celebrate the summer solstice

a summer solstice tablescape

Embrace the golden hours of summer solstice by spending time in nature, in a nod to seasonal sunshine and light.

Dating back to Neolithic times, celebrating summer solstice is an event that spans many different countries and cultural traditions. While some communities marked the height of summer with a sun dance or festival in years gone by, others built bonfires or created structures to align with the shadow of the solstice rays. 

Even today, the summer solstice has an ethereal quality to it: a day where time seems to expand in line with the daylight, and anything might be possible. A great opportunity, in other words, to slow down, reflect and reconnect with nature amid the changing of the seasons. 

Here are a few creative ways to chime in this year's summer solstice (21 June), with slow-living rituals for the whole family to get involved in. 

a summer solstice tablescape

  1. Bake a summer cake

    Hail in hazy summer days with a seasonal bake, like a simple victoria sponge stacked high with summer berries; or a glorious rhubarb cake from 5’0 Clock Apron chef and food writer Claire Thomson. Your taste buds will thank you for it.

  2. Make a wild flower wreath

    Take the family on a walk to comb the hedgerows for wild treasures. Foliage like geraniums, dog rose or cow parsley are abundant in summertime, and all would make a beautiful wreath. You could also forage from your own back garden, too.

  3. Watch the sunrise

    On a clear day, Britain’s skyscape comes alight in a blaze of pinks and purples; with shades so vivid, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d suddenly moved to Malibu. Take a front-row seat on your doorstep, or at a nearby vantage spot, to watch the show unfold; it’s well worth the early wake-up.

  4. Go barefoot in the grass

    There’s nothing quite like going barefoot for staying present, and connecting with the natural world around you. Throw your trainers to the wind and feel the dirt beneath your toes with a barefoot walk in your garden, or a local park.

    a summer solstice tablescape

  5. Give wild swimming a whirl

    To dial the barefoot approach up a notch, and immerse yourself further into the natural landscape, have those swimmers handy. Thanks to a boom in popularity, there are many kinds of wild swimming groups to join and get advice on safe, little-known bathing spots in your area. Plunging into a local stretch of river, or a lake, is a wonderful way to salute the onset of summer.

  6. Gather your friends for a bonfire

    A Midsummer Eve’s bonfire was the thing to do in Pagan times; so why not recreate the rite? Invite your loved ones over for a night of singing and marshmallows in the shadow of dancing flames. You could also add your own fun twist into proceedings; for example, by making wishes for the year ahead.

  7. Read summer tales with your children

    Take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight by treating your little ones to an evening picnic in the garden, followed by a summer tale or two of their choice. There are so many great summer books you can choose from, from Astrid Lindgren’s Cherry Time at Bullerby to Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web and more. Alternatively, take it in turns to create a story of your own by going round in a circle, with each person adding a line.

  8. Mix up a cocktail

    Get the festival vibes going with a solstice cocktail. I love the sound of this summer solstice Collins ~ 1 part vodka, 1 part blood orange liqueur, 1 part lemon juice, 1/2 part sugar syrup, topped up with soda and a sprig of thyme. Dreamy.