The Summer Solstice arrives on Thursday, June 20, 2024, marking the astronomical first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere - and the longest day of the year!

The Summer Solstice is celebrated across the globe for varying spiritual reasons. Ireland sees it as a midsummer festival and a time to celebrate historical sites, the arts, and culture.

The importance of Summer Solstice ties back to ancient Celtic society’s reliance on agriculture and crops. The reliance on and appreciation for the sun is what brought people closer to nature and furthered their understanding of the environment.

Through suffering and hardships during the winter months, the Solstice became an important celebration for success and ease during the summer.

The celebration of the Summer Solstice in Ireland is tied to its ancient landmarks.

Ireland has one of the most prominent Neolithic sites known as Newgrange. It dates back to 5,000 years ago and is a popular tourist location. 

Inside Newgrange during the winter solstice. (Ireland's Content Pool)

Inside Newgrange during the winter solstice. (Ireland's Content Pool)

In the same area in Co Meath, there is the Hill of Tara which has deep links to Irish folklore and is a popular location to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

The Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara

Midsummer festivals and bonfires have been a tradition in Ireland since pagan times and they continue to thrive. Before environmental concerns over fumes from bonfires brought in certain rules, communities across Ireland would light a flame in celebration of the day.

The tradition still lives on throughout Ireland with a few restrictions on times of day when bonfires are allowed.   

There are tons of ways you can celebrate the longest day of the year and delve into the Irish culture, even if you are not in Ireland:

  • Have a party and invite people to celebrate it the Irish way with bonfires, good food, and delving into the Irish culture.
  • Visit your local Irish center or arts center.
  • Feast on a big Irish meal filled with meat, potatoes, and veggies.
  • Listen to some traditional music in your local pub.
  • Embrace the culture and try a new something new. How about some Irish dancing lessons or music lessons?
  • Usually, across the United States and Ireland, there are different events dedicated to Summer Solstice that encompass a variety of cultures and different ways of celebrating the day.

* Originally published in 2018. Updated in 2023.