10 ways to celebrate the Summer Solstice across North Carolina

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From yoga and dance parties to sustainable fashion shows, here is how North Carolinians across the state are marking the midsummer.

We’re not sure how it happened, but we are fast approaching the midway point of the year. While that milestone occurs on July 2, we’ve got a couple more popular mid-year observations coming our way this month, with no shortage of ways to celebrate around the Tar Heel State. 

Though they land on different days, midsummer is a celebration of the summer solstice. Let us explain: Summer solstice is a scientific observation of the longest day of the year, when one of Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun, marking the first day of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere — at least for the rest of the 21st century — the summer solstice lands either on June 20 or June 21. 

Midsummer, on the other hand, is a celebration of the summer solstice, though it lands on June 24 every year. Sometimes spelled midsommar (yes, like that movie), midsummer has its roots in Scandinavia. The celebration of light, warmth, and nature is recognized as a national holiday in Finland and Sweden, with celebrations often involving flowers, dancing, magic, and a sun that never sets.  

While we don’t have such luck in the States, this year’s summer solstice falls on Thursday, June 20, while midsummer lands on a Monday. That gives you three weekend nights (and the longest days of the year in between) to find the best way to mark the midsummer. To help you out, we’ve compiled this list of 10 events happening in different parts of the state over the solstice weekend. See you on the other side. 

2nd Annual Summer Solstice Party at Lily Pad Pottery

June 20, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Lily Pad Pottery, 201 N. Water St., Elizabeth City

Cost: $10

Embrace the beauty of the longest day of the year with an array of delightful activities and the company of friends at Lily Pad, where attendees will make their own flower crowns, take part in sunflower pottery painting, enjoy refreshments, and bask in the most important part of the solstice: community. Share stories, make new friends with your neighbors, and revel in the positive energy of this special occasion. 

Bonus: All sun- and sunflower-themed pottery is 20% off during the event. 

Summer Solstice Yoga Celebration

June 21, 6-7:30 p.m.; The Yoga Mill, 620 Mill St., Sylva

Cost: $35

A 90-minute workshop that will leave you refreshed and ready for summer. Suzanne Berryhill and guest Amber Rae lead this class, which will involve unwinding in a slow-flow yoga class followed by an extended gong bath that aims to rejuvenate the nervous system, helping with relaxation. 

Wrap things up, have a cup of golden milk, and take part in mantra chanting, a type of speaking meditation that focuses the mind, before hitting the juice bar for some healthy refreshments. 

Summer Solstice White Party

June 21, 6-10 p.m.; The House on Barber Mill, 2239 Barber Mill Road, Clayton

Cost: $65

Clayton’s Women in Networking organization invites you to celebrate the solstice dressed in your summer whites at their big annual fundraiser — an evening of music, drinks, games, and entertainment, all in support of the group’s mission to empower and connect women in the Clayton community.

Summer Solstice Full Moon Celebration

June 21, 6:30-10 p.m.; The Little Chapel at Haven Ridge, South Church Street, Old Salem, Winston-Salem

Cost: $77

This year’s summer solstice is special in that the full moon rises the very next night — a strawberry moon at that. The Little Chapel at Haven Ridge in Old Salem hosts this “celebration of connecting to oneself, to others, and to the elements. A celebration of being alive. A celebration of the Earth and all her glory. “ 

Kelly Abbe and Deanna Dzybon guide participants through a celebration of self, the collective, and life at a private nature sanctuary of rolling meadows surrounded by lush forests. Take part in a Blue Lotus tea ceremony at the water’s edge, listening to the sounds of a waterfall while immersed in a vibrational sound bath surrounded by the wind and your own breath. Wrap things up with a fire pit ceremony. 

Crystal Visions’ Litha Celebration

June 22, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Crystal Visions, 5426 Asheville Highway, Hendersonville

Cost: Love offerings gratefully accepted

Litha is the pagan holiday marking the summer solstice. Part of the Wheel of the Year, a cycle of seasonal celebrations observed by modern pagan and Wiccan communities, Litha has roots in many cultures, including ancient ones. Observances often involve bonfires and dancing. 

Local author and Brigid priestess Lisa Wagoner will host this meditation, discussion of Litha, brief ritual, and Litha activity. Author of “Positive Pagan: Staying Upbeat in an Offbeat World,” Wagoner is also a healing guide, teacher, and coach. She lives in Asheville, where she practices her passion for herbalism, worldwide community, and healing as a devoted follower of the goddess Brigid. 

Midsummer Celebration

June 22, noon-9 p.m.; Pluck Farm, 6901 NC-54 West, Mebane

Cost: Free

The folks at Pluck Farm believe midsummer should be spent with family and friends eating, drinking, and playing games out in the open air. They’ll host a full day on the farm doing just that, including picking and decorating with flowers and greenery, then binding them into flower crowns to be worn for good luck. 

Lawn games will be available all day long, including Kan Jam, disc golf, cornhole, and Kubb, a traditional Swedish lawn game that’s popular during midsummer celebrations. Food trucks will be onsite, and of course, you can enjoy beers from Steel Spring Brewery, which is permanently onsite. 

Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival

June 22, 2-10 p.m.; Greensboro Arboretum, 3299 Starmount Drive, Greensboro

Cost: $10; children 12 and under are free

Launched in 2005, the Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival has over nearly two decades become the definitive celebration of the solstice in the state. “We want the Greensboro Summer Solstice to spark creativity in our community and provide a stimulating and awe-inspiring event that will impart an everlasting memory for the entire family,” read the website. 

This year’s event features a bazaar marketplace that stretches from Lindley Park across the bridge to the Greensboro Arboretum; two stages presenting six hours of diverse musical and dance performances; a one-hour drum circle; an array of delectable food and beverages including wine, beer, and cider; and the Fire Finale, which showcases LED hoopers and awe-inspiring fire spinners. 

StarTribe Summer Solstice Dance

June 22, 6-10 p.m.; Pack Square Park, 1 Court Plaza, Asheville

Cost: $30

Pack Square Park is a nice setting for StarTribe’s 22-speaker sound system, aka The Bass Monster, which during this high-energy event will be pumping the sounds of artists like ATTYA, Katt, Illusion of Duality, and Kevin Spears. 

“At Startribe we treasure the finding of solace in the company of kindred spirits, sharing laughter, love, and the unspoken language of movement,” the site reads. “It’s unanimous that StarTribe dances are where the human spirit shines brightest.” 

Bright Haven’s Summer Solstice Celebration

June 23, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Bright Haven Farm, 10020 Hambright Road, Huntersville

Cost: $10-$25 donation suggested

This suburban town just north of Charlotte still has some rural left in it, as Bright Haven Farm bills itself as a haven for healing with conscious “commUnity” events, high-frequency foods, and a connection to Mother Earth. What better place to mark the summer solstice? 

Bright Haven’s event honors the Earth’s cycle through community play, music, fire ceremony, and the sharing of creativity and ideas. That includes a harmony jam for musicians and non-musicians alike (instruments provided); flow arts such as hula-hoops, poi, wands, and juggling balls; a prideful expression clothing swap; time and space for quiet contemplation; fire-spinning; and more.  

Summer Solstice Sustainability Fashion Show

June 23, 5:30-8 p.m.; New Hanover County Arboretum, 6206 Oleander Drive; Wilmington

Cost: $25

Sokoto House hosts this event full of eco-friendly fashion and sustainable style. Witness designers showcase their latest creations that are not only trendy but kind to our planet, as they’re made from upcycled materials and ethically sourced fabrics. 

Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or an eco-conscious individual, this show is sure to leave you feeling inspired and motivated to make more sustainable choices in your wardrobe.

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  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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