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Summer solstice at Stonehenge
Photograph: John Kotlowski/

Okay, but what is the summer solstice?

The June solstice in the northern hemisphere marks midsummer, or the longest day of the year

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

While humankind has been on lockdown, the world has kept on turning and – despite how it might have felt – time has actually kept moving at its usual pace. In the northern hemisphere, that means that while it was barely spring when lockdowns began, we’ve now found ourselves at midsummer. 

This weekend is the June solstice. In the northern hemisphere, that means it’s the summer solstice, aka the longest day of the year. The same day in the southern hemisphere is the winter solstice, or shortest day.

This year’s summer solstice falls on Saturday June 20. There’s actually a precise moment for the solstice, when the Earth's north pole reaches its maximum tilt towards the sun. That’ll happen at 10.43pm BST, 5.43pm EDT. 

Swedish midsummer
Photograph: Shutterstock

Many solstice celebrations take place around the closest sunset, on June 20, and sunrise to the solstice, which in this case is the sunrise on Sunday June 21. 

This year, pagan, druid and spiritual events around the world have been scaled back or cancelled entirely thanks to social distancing restrictions. But you can currently live-stream some Swedish midsummer eve vibes into your home here. 

Meanwhile, English Heritage will be live-streaming the summer solstice sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge in England online this year for the first time ever. Watch the sunset here and the sunrise here

Or, if these quieter, more contemplative months have left you with a deeper appreciation for the natural world, you can mark the event by simply going outside and enjoying all that glorious daylight. 

ICYMI: There’s also a solar eclipse this weekend

Here are some more celestial dates for your diary

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