Summer Solstice 2020: how to make the most of the longest day
From sunrise yoga to a virtual planetarium show and a chance to stream the ultimate tale of midsummer madness, here’s how to celebrate the Summer Solstice
Rise and shine with a (virtual) yoga class
Ordinarily, summer is when yogis take their mats and their sun salutations up onto London’s rooftops, and stretch while overlooking vistas of the city. Solo practice remains the way forward for now, but there’s no reason you can’t take your mat into the garden or a nearby park. If the thought of rising with the sun before 5am sounds a little too chipper for your liking, why not book into a class with Yogarise? Usually a go-to for rooftop yoga classes south of the river, the studio is live-streaming classes all day from its Peckham base, with the first class – in dynamic flow – beginning at the more civilised time of 8:30am.
When: Saturday 20 June, hour-long classes from 8:30AM - 6:15PM
Where: Book via the Yogarise website
Pack a picnic and explore green pastures
With hours of light stretching ahead of you, when better to re-wild yourself and venture into the great outdoors? Overnight stays are still discouraged but with the promise of the sun lingering in the sky that little bit longer than usual, you can amble at leisure well into the evening without having to worry about finding your way back to the car in the dark. From the Chilterns to Epping Forest, there’s plenty of rugged countryside and enchanting woodland just beyond the city. Alternatively, why not set up camp for the day in your favourite park or head off and explore London on foot? Whichever way you head, don’t forget to pack a picnic to see you through the day.
Dress up and watch a country opera
Few events signal high summer like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne in a sun-soaked garden, ahead of watching a country-house opera. While physical events have been postponed this year, Glyndebourne Festival is helping opera aficionados recreate the experience at home by streaming several of its operas online – including this weekend’s production of Handel’s Rinaldo. Spend the exceptionally long evening listening to Italian contralto Sonia Prina sing the title role, taking on US mezzo-soprano Brenda Rae's Armida, and Italian tenor Luca Pisaroni's nifty Argante. Listen out for the meltingly lovely aria Lascia ch'io panga (Let me weep).
When: Sunday 21 June, 5pm
Where: Glyndebourne Festival’s YouTube channel
Host a garden party (for a select group)
Hoist up the bunting and wrap strings of fairy lights around the trees: the summer solstice has been blessed with balmy weather and it’s time to host a garden party (for a select group of no more than six, of course). Once guests have confirmed, make sure your garden is prepped with throws, cushions and maybe even a firepit for when night eventually returns and temperatures drop. As for what to serve, these summer rolls taste as impressive as they look, but if you're looking to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen, London’s takeaway scene is better than ever thanks to the number of gourmet restaurants now offering home delivery. And to drink? Let us be your guide to mixing up delicious summer cocktails.
See the stars up close in a virtual planetarium show
The summer solstice naturally makes us think about the ever-changing sky. This year, why not expand your interest beyond the sun and ponder the stars too on a virtual planetarium show hosted by Greenwich’s Royal Observatory – the precise location where Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) originates. Travel through the stars, visiting objects like planets, moons and asteroids along the way. The session is led by an astronomer who can answer any burning questions you have about the solar system.
When: Friday 19 June, 4pm-5pm
Where: Book via the Royal Museums Greenwich website
Watch the ultimate tale of midsummer madness and mischief
Michelle Terry (left) and Pearce Quigley (right) in the Globe's A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2013
Follow Shakespeare’s rebellious lovers and fairies deep into the woods for the Globe’s 2013 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This Elizabethan-dress production stars the theatre's current artistic director Michelle Terry as Titania/Hippolyta, while her predecessor Dominic Dromgoole directs. With its lightness, laughs and magical mishaps, The Dream remains a fitting watch for hazy summer nights.
When: Available until Sunday 28 June
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe YouTube channel
Stream the sunrise from Stonehenge
Built between the years 3,000BC and 1,600BC the mysterious man-made rock formation that is Stonehenge has long attracted pagans, druids and curious folk, keen to camp out and catch any magic that occurs over the Summer Solstice. Usually, no fewer than 10,000 visitors flock to the Wiltshire site on the longest day of the year, but with concerns over the virus still raging, English Heritage – the organisation in charge of the site – has cancelled this year’s in-person events, shifting the celebrations online instead. Snuggle up on your sofa sleepy-eyed with a mug of something warm, and watch the sun rise over one of the ancient wonders of the world.
When: Sunday 21 June, sunrise (from 4:07am)
Where: English Heritage’s social media channels