How to celebrate the summer solstice across Pennsylvania

Group of young people laughing and talking in the sunshine.

Helen Lopes/Unsplash.

By Kalena Thomhave

June 14, 2024

Celebrate the longest day of the year and the start of the summer season at these Pennsylvania hikes, festivals, and dinners commemorating the summer solstice.

For thousands of years, cultures around the world have celebrated the summer solstice and the arrival of the warmest season. Astronomically, the summer solstice occurs when the earth is tilted as far as it can toward the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, that moment — the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year — occurs on June 20, 2024.

You can celebrate the summer solstice across Pennsylvania at a number of festivals and events, all greeting the season of sunshine. You can also make like the northern Europeans — who celebrate the solstice as “midsummer,” usually with friends and family — and welcome the start of summer all on your own. Whether you join a guided hike, visit a festival, or simply sit in the sunshine with your friends and family, be sure to celebrate the start of the summer season this solstice — and get ready to make this summer your best one yet.

Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival – Towanda (Bradford County)

Dates: June 17 – 23

Held among the beautiful Endless Mountains in Northeastern Pa., the Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival is a big event in the small town of Towanda. The arts and music festival coincides with the summer solstice and will be held at the rural French Azilum Historic Site, tucked within a bend of the Susquehanna River. Dozens of artists will participate in a plein-air (outdoor) painting competition that will turn into an art show, while roots musicians take the stage all weekend. There will also be local speakers presenting on topics from local history to poetry, tours of the historic site, and family activities like kayaking and bike rides. For maximum festival revelry, you can even camp over the weekend at French Azilum!

Cocktails in the Cemetery at Green Hill Cemetery – Waynesboro (Franklin County)

Date: June 20

In Waynesboro, you can celebrate the longest day of the year with cocktails in a beautiful, unique green space — Green Hill Cemetery! Presented by the Antietam Historical Association, the “cocktails in the cemetery” summer solstice celebration will feature hors d’oeuvres, cemetery tours, live music, and a cash bar. Reserve your tickets at the cemetery or by calling 717-762-2759 or 717-658-6789.

Summer Solstice Celebration at Riverbend Environmental Education Center – Gladwyne (Montgomery County)

Date: June 20

On the evening of the solstice, Riverbend Environmental Education Center is hosting a family-friendly summer solstice celebration to welcome the new season. The nature preserve will offer a wine garden for adults and activities for kids, in addition to Philly pretzels, water ice, live music, and a bonfire with s’mores for everyone! You can pack a picnic dinner to enjoy while watching the sunset on the hill, or you can purchase a pre-made picnic from Riverbend.

Sunlight peeking through the trees in a dense forest.

Ray Moore/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0.

Summer Solstice Sunrise Observance at Columcille Megalith Park – Bangor (Northampton County)

Date: June 20

Just as many people visit Stonehenge in England to celebrate the solstice, you can do the same at the park often called “Pennsylvania’s Stonehenge.” Wake early on the day of the summer solstice and welcome the sunrise at Columcille Megalith Park during the park’s 5:45 a.m. summer solstice sunrise observance. The 17-acre park features forest trails, meadows, and nearly 100 megaliths — stone structures reminiscent of Celtic traditions and inspired by the Scottish island of Iona. A place of quiet reflection, Columcille may be the best park in Eastern Pa. to witness a summer sunrise.

Trees in the Berks County forest.

Michael Stokes/Flickr/CC BY 2.0.

Summer Solstice Forest Therapy Walk at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center – Cumru Township (Berks County)

Date: June 20

On the morning of the summer solstice, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center is hosting a forest therapy walk. Rather than lead a mere hike, a forest therapy guide will introduce participants to the practice of consciously immersing oneself within the sights, sounds, and sensations of nature. On the solstice, the sun is at its highest point in the sky, so you can also be inspired by the bright sunlight filtering through the trees. Forest therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and may reduce stress. Spots are limited and registration is required.

Summer Solstice Astronomy at Ricketts Glen State Park – Benton (Sullivan County)

Date: June 20

Ricketts Glen State Park will host an afternoon program dedicated to the sun on the day of the summer solstice. During the summer solstice astronomy event, participants will learn how to tell time using a sundial — the first device humans invented to keep time. Park staff will also guide visitors as they use a solar telescope to gaze at Earth’s star. To take part in this free program, meet at the park’s western boat launch near the park office. 

Sunset in Western Pennsylvania.

Glenn Marsch/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Summer Solstice Celebration at Ryerson Station State Park – Wind Ridge (Greene County)

Date: June 20

On the afternoon of the solstice, head to Ryerson Station State Park near the West Virginia border for a sweet summer solstice celebration. Participants will make a sun reflector craft and then take a one-mile hike to welcome the summer sun. Meet at the park’s environmental education center to join the fun.

Summer Solstice Party with the Mosaic Community Land Trust – Pottstown (Montgomery County)

Date: June 21

The Mosaic Community Land Trust in Pottstown is hosting its annual summer solstice party to welcome the warmest season. You can purchase tickets knowing the proceeds go to a good cause: Mosaic’s work in Pottstown, like its educational events, community gardens, and affordable housing efforts. Drinks, food, and conviviality will be provided!

Sunlight through the trees in PA.

Thomas/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0.

Happy Summer Hike at Vosburg Neck State Park – Tunkhannock (Wyoming County)

Date: June 23

A few days after the summer solstice, celebrate the first weekend of summer by joining a guided hike at Vosburg Neck State Park. Hikers will enjoy lovely views of the Susquehanna River as they trek along the River Trail. Be sure to wear shoes appropriate for hiking! 

Summer Solstice Soiree Dinner at Kitchen Kettle Village – Intercourse (Lancaster County)

Date: June 28

For an upscale summer solstice observance, you can book dinner tickets at Kitchen Kettle Village for its Summer Solstice Soiree Dinner. Dine on a summer-inspired menu in the village’s Harvest Café or outdoors under fairy lights.

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