With summer solstice coming up on the 21st June, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the longest day of the year in the UK (fingers crossed for good weather). Here are some of the best ways to make the most of the day and to welcome the beginning of the summer.
The start of midsummer in the UK is defined with the summer solstice, when the sun lies directly above the northern hemisphere. In layman’s terms, this means that London will welcome nearly 17 hours of sunlight on 21st June and the rest of the UK will also enjoy many hours of daylight. As the summer solstice falls on a Sunday, this offers the perfect excuse to enjoy an overnight getaway, and the Chic Collection portfolio offers an assortment of dreamy British countryside and city-based locations. The Rothay Garden Hotel is located in Cumbria and the heart of the Lake District, offering a lovely location from which to enjoy long walks in the countryside. The many hours of sunlight also frame the perfect opportunity to enjoy a spot of fishing, windsurfing and sailing or perhaps a cruise on the local lakes. The hotel is surrounded by landscaped gardens and features an excellent restaurant offering seasonal North English cuisine that you can enjoy after a long day spent roaming the surrounding greenery.
If there’s anything that British summertime is traditionally associated with, it’s a good, old-fashioned barbecue. Over in Oxford, the Old Bank Hotel and Quod has a terraced dining area that just invites long barbecue evenings where you can chat away into the night surrounded by friends and family. During the longest day of the year, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors and Oxford is the perfect city in which to do so, thanks to its compact size and picturesque streets perfect for exploring. The hotel is situated in the centre meaning that you can explore until the early hours without any concern over how long it might take to get home.
The New Forest is another UK spot that is perfect for the summer solstice. The Chewton Glen in Hampshire is a quintessentially British hotel set among 130 acres of woodland with a private golf course, outdoor pool and croquet. Its location between the New Forest and the southern coastline invite long days spent horse riding through the forest or lazing on the beach. The ambitious among us may even venture out early to the beach on the longest day to enjoy the sunrise over the ocean at 4.45am.
For something a little less intimate but still a lot of fun, the summer solstice party at Stonehenge is one of the most (in)famous events in the UK. Following a chequered history, the event today is a peaceful affair with a chilled-out vibe despite the 20,000 people expected to attend. Revellers arrive on Saturday 20th for an all-night party to welcome the summer in the next morning. Samba bands and drummers will provide the musical accompaniment to what always promises to be a memorable event.
Party in the capital
When it comes down to it, the longest day of the year is just a great excuse to have fun, and London is one of the best places in the UK to do just that. Wherever you are in the capital, you can enjoy the many hours of daylight by laying on the grass in one of the parks and having a long, lazy picnic with a glass of champagne or perhaps kicking a ball about. One of London’s most recent additions comes in the form of the open-air bathing ponds at Kings Cross – a fun way to spend the many daylight hours. Open until dusk, the UK’s first ever man-made fresh water public bathing pond was built as part of the local public arts program and doubles up as an art installation, surrounded by wild flowers and grasses that change with the season.
If you would rather stay dry, London’s many beer gardens and rooftop bars are also an enjoyable place to spend the summer solstice weekend with a big group of friends. The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch boasts one of the funkiest rooftop spaces around – from May until September, it will be transformed into a Cuban-themed space serving daiquiris and Cubanos (Cuban sandwiches); they will also host a number of Cuban-inspired nights, such as cigar & rum pairings. The ever-trendy Proud bar in Camden also has a beautiful rooftop terrace in the form of a secret garden with unplugged music, gourmet food and a barbecue. They stay open until late, making this the perfect location to enjoy the many daylight hours after a day spent hunting for bargains in the neighbouring Camden Market.
For the South London crowd, Richmond is a gorgeous place to spend the long day and night. With its picturesque streets lined with twee shops and lovely coffee bars, it’s also home to beautiful Richmond Park with its abundance of deer and other wildlife. The area is also home to some great riverside pubs; Stein’s is a firm favourite with its dining area that offers original, German-themed fare in an al fresco setting.
Reaching new heights
To mark the occasion with something very special, you can also take a trip up the Shard as the sun is setting to enjoy expansive views over the city. A stay in the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard the night before also means you can watch the sunrise on the longest day from a privileged viewpoint.