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Summer Solstice: how to celebrate the longest day of the year

Photo by PsJeremy

The summer solstice is an under-appriciated astronomical happening. While the rarity of eclipses and meteor showers inspire people to rally and look to the sky, the sunrise on the morning of the longest day of the year is a celestial marvel that most people miss. You can set your alarm a bit early so as not to miss the sun breaching the line of the horizon, or you can take it a step further and welcome the sun with one of these brilliant solstice rituals. Whether you find spiritual serenity at Stonehenge or meditative stillness in the heart of New York, there is no right way to observe the solstice (but we think these events are not to be missed!).

Photo by Stonehenge Stone Circle

The most famous of these solstice rituals takes place at Stonehenge. Thousands of travelers pack between the massive stones and wait for the sun to rise behind the Heel Stone. As the sun continues along its course, it ultimately crests the Stone and casts a vivid blanket of light over the crowds gathered in the center of the complex. Druids and Pagans consider the summer solstice a holy time and, after feeling the energy at the moment the sun rose, we can understand why they chose Stonehenge as the site of their celebration. Additionally, the summer solstice is one of the rare occasions when people can put their hands on this ancient and mysterious monument, an experience that in itself is truly magical. If you have the opportunity to visit Stonehenge and participate in this remarkable tradition we assure you it will be well worth the predawn rise and travel.

Photo by Pdiddyraider

Another solstice tradition we adore is the annual 4am concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York, the largest cathedral in the U.S . Don't let the affiliation with religion scare you away! Guided by the awe-inspiring music of the Paul Winter Consort, the event begins in darkness and slowly, as the sun rises, the Cathedral becomes illuminated by gleaming stain glass windows. The music is captured stunningly by the vaulted space and resonate with us both physically and emotionally. Because the Cathedral is so grand (tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty!) the concert has evolved to take full advantage of this canyon-esque space. An early morning concert to celebrate nature in the bustling city is a tradition we hope you get to experience.

Want to enjoy the solstice in the city without the early morning wakeup call? You can join thousands of yogis celebrating the longest day of the year in the center of Times Square. A series of renowned instructors guide participants though hour long meditative yoga classes inspired by the profoundness of the sun. During the Yoga Solstice, we found a unique peace; despite being surround by thousands of people moving in sync, we became completely unaware of any busyness. It felt as if we were alone in a quiet personal practice; although, with a quick glance up, we were reminded of our location by towering buildings, roaring traffic, and the glaring screens that comprise Times Square. Our favorite moment, bar none, is shavasana during which, with closed eyes and a rejuvenated post-yoga bodies, we lay in the street feeling the rumble of subways rushing beneath us and the unfiltered energy of the city.


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