Discover Britain


Here are some ways for you to join in the summer celebratio­ns across Britain yourself


Observing the sunrise

Many hills – like Midsummer Hill in Malvern – attract those who want to witness the sun rise for its longest day from up high.

Stone circles like those at Avebury and Stonehenge also attract worshipper­s, and remote islands appeal to neo-pagans. Near Calanais on the Isle of Lewis, there are over a dozen stone circles, all estimated to be around 5,000 years old. The exact function of these constructi­ons isn’t clear, but their very ambiguity makes them ideal for sun and moon worshipper­s to visit for both equinoxes and the two solstices.

Midsummer Morris

The origin of Morris dancing in Britain is debatable. Even the derivation of the word is unclear, with ‘Moorish’ suggested as a reference to the way that dancers used to blacken their faces until the 20th century.

Regardless of etymology, the first written records of this energetic English ritual began in the 15th century. Today ‘Morris’ consists of people (usually men) dancing in white costumes with ribbons and bells on their legs as they hit sticks noisily together.

All-male Morris-dancers can be found on May Day and at the summer solstice in Abbots Bromley, Abingdon, Canterbury, Harrogate, Wensleydal­e and Winchester. In St Albans, the Stony Redcaps are a group of female Morris dancers who dance without sticks throughout the year, but also particular­ly at midsummer.

Golowan revived

Since 1991, the week-long Golowan Festival (golowanfes­tival. org – ‘Golowan’ is Cornish for ‘midsummer’) in Penzance, on the Cornish coast, has revived many of the ancient traditions of this time of year in the area. The festival culminates in the election of a Mayor of the quay and a parade on what is known as Mazey Day, when the Penglaz, a sinister-looking hobbyhorse, leads the Serpent Dance through the streets of Penzance.

Golf in the Northern Isles

With the sun hardly setting at all in the Shetland Isles in midsummer, a new tradition has grown up of people playing late night golf on one of the archipelag­o’s four stunning golf courses, or the five courses on Orkney. While the clubhouses are closed for the day, courses aren’t, and honesty boxes are provided so green fees can still be paid.

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