Experience the best of the glorious midnight sun (josef.stuefer)
List Words : Hannah Uttley | 21 June

Top 6 Midsummer experiences

If you didn't get a chance to join the revellers at Stonehenge this year, check out the top places to enjoy the magic of Midsummer across the world

Thousands flock to Stonehenge in Wiltshire every year to experience the wonder of the midnight sun for summer solstice. If you want to escape the crowds and try a unique Midsummer experience, head north for traditional celebrations.

1. Gather fern blossom in Latvia

Arguably the most significant holiday in the Latvian calendar, Midsummer – or Jāņi as it is more commonly known to residents – is regarded as a somewhat mystic event, steeped in ancient pagan tradition. People are invited to drink beer and play games around a bonfire, and fern blossom is particularly symbolic of the celebrations. Participants are required to search for the blossom because of its magic power, which is said to bring prosperity.

Latvian musicians and folk groups play through the night with activities taking place until sunrise. Latvian beer and Janu cheese – a ricotta and caraway seed mixture – are traditionally eaten during Jāņi.

Latvia's capital, Riga, also holds a ballet festival in spring and an opera festival in June in honour of the holiday.

2. Dancing around the Midsummer pole in Sweden

Midsummer celebrations are vital to Scandinavian culture, and in Sweden it is even celebrated as a national holiday. This year, Swedish Midsommar falls on June 25.

Dancing around Midsummer poles adorned with flowers is an important part of the celebrations, and houses are also decorated inside and out in the same fashion.

Potatoes, herring and strawberries are on the menu, and beer and akvavit – a Swedish spirit flavoured with caraway seeds – are drunk with them.

3. Paddle under Iceland's midnight sun

Kayaking through Iceland's calm and serene Eastfjords is highly recommended all year round, but the midnight sun in June provides a unique opportunity to paddle the waters through the night. Take in the breathtaking landscapes and dramatic coastlines, as well as catching sight of seals and seabirds if you pass around Northfjörthur's dark sea caves.

4. Whalewatching in Europe

Spot humpback whales feeding with hundreds of diving gulls and minke whales, all basking in the glorious golden light of the midnight sun. Head to Greenland for truly spectacular views of rare species against a pristine backdrop of snowy-white sheets of ice.

Whalewatching can be done from air or in a host of vessels including kayaks and yachts, and if lucky enough to find such a spot, some places offer views of the whales from standing on the shore.

5. Stroll the 'summer island'

A 45-minute drive from Tromsø, the small fishing village of Sommarøy in Norway is swathed in the light of the midnight sun for weeks on end during the Midsummer period.

Home to just 450 people, Sommarøy's isolated location means you can enjoy uninterrupted midnight hikes taking in lush green landscapes and peaceful fjords dappled in the midnight sunlight.

6. Bear watching in Finland

As the bears emerged from their winter slumber, Midsummer offers the perfect time to watch them in their natural habitat. You may need to be on the lookout for the bears all night, but the constant sunlight means you can watch the furry mammals bathing and foraging for food with ease.

Be sure to pack a healthy supply of insect repellent as mosquitoes and blackfly in Finland are a particular nuisance during this time of year.

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