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Make the Most of the Solstice: 8 Places to Soak Up the Midnight Sun

Make the Most of the Solstice: 8 Places to Soak Up the Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun (Photo: Flickr/Alfstorm

If you’re vacationing near the Arctic Circle this summer, be sure to pack extra sunscreen. In Scandinavia, Russia, and Canada, summer “nights” mean Midnight Sun — and Midnight Fun.  Locals who have been hibernating in perpetual darkness all winter take any excuse to stay out late and celebrate. 

Midnight here feels more like warm sunset or soft twilight; the notion of night and day is blurred. In fact, in the most northern parts of the Arctic, the sun doesn’t set at all between late April and late August. 

Most special events are pegged to the summer solstice on June 21, but opportunities to bask in the mystical glow of the Midnight Sun continue through summer. With more daylight hours and warmer temperatures, it’s peak season for outdoor adventures waaay up north — no parka required.

Midnight Sun Baseball GameMidnight Sun Baseball Game (Photo: Flickr/Wbur)

Fairbanks, Alaska

Timing a trip with its annual Midnight Sun Festival means also being present for a quirky Fairbanks tradition: The Midnight Sun Baseball game.  Dating back to 1904, this annual game is played without use of artificial lights — because none are needed. If you miss the main event on June 21, no worries; the hometown Goldpanners host additional “night” games though July.

(See Also: Dogsledding in Alaska — With a 1-year Old — No really!)

Great-Northern-Arts-FestivalGreat Northern Arts Festival (Photo: Courtesy

Inuvik, Canada

Sitting 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle, Canada’s northernmost city hosts the Great Northern Arts Festival for 10 days each July.  It brings together indigenous artists and performers from across the Canadian North. Another popular activity here: midnight sun fishing on the McKenzie Delta.


Reykjavik, Iceland (Photo: Flickr/Sandy Kemsley)

Reykjavik, Iceland

Imagine coming out of a club at 3 a.m. to a sunlit night. It happens here in summer. The die-hard music aficionados of Reykjavik even created a music festival to ring in the summer solstice. This year’s first-ever Secret Solstice Midnight Sun Music Festival features more than 150 musical acts during 72 hours of constant sunlight.  Who needs sleep with that combination?

(See also: Europe’s New Shopping Hotspot: Reykjavik)


Hammerfest, Norway (Photo: Flickr/Sunny256)

Hammerfest, Norway

If you can’t make it for St. Hans Day on June 23 — when Norway’s villages and towns ring in the season with large bonfires, parties, music and dancing — consider a summer visit to Hammerfest. The cute seaport town enjoys permanent sunshine through the end of July and is a springboard to the world’s most northerly golf course in nearby Repparfjord. Brag to friends about teeing off at 2 a.m.  The course is open 24 hours in summer.


Kebnekaise (Photo: Flickr/J McDowell)

Kiruna Lapland, Sweden

Sitting 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set in Kiruna through mid-July. Spectacular midnight hikes await at Aptasvaara mountain, where 360-degree panorama views at the summit include Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain. The grounds of the IceHotel — plus a summer version in a giant freezer — are nearby, too.  


Finnish Lapland, Finland (Photo: Flickr/Samikki)

Finnish Lapland, Finland

Best known as home to Santa and his reindeer, this area of Finland springs to life in summer months. Join locals for midnight hiking, biking and boating under the soft glow of the sun. You may not see Santa, but you’re likely to spot reindeer.


St. Petersburg, Russia (Photo: Flickr/ibnhusin)

St. Petersburg, Russia

Despite being 460 miles south of the Arctic Circle, St. Petersburg experiences the Midnight Sun. The Russians call it Byeliye Nochi, or White Nights. Through July 31, the world-famous Mariinsky Theater hosts the Stars of the White Nights Festival, a showcase of Russia’s finest ballet, opera, theater and musical performances.


Ivan Kupala Day, Murmansk, Russia (Photo: Flickr/mksystem)

Murmansk, Russia

It might take a little more effort to get here, but consider the bragging rights. Halfway between Moscow and the North Pole, Murmansk is the northernmost city in the worldStick around for Ivan Kupala Day on July 7, when locals jump over bonfires as part of purification rituals.  

(See Also: Space, The Final Frontier: Becoming a Cosmonaut in Russia)

Erica Bray is a travel marketing consultant, yoga teacher and writer based in Chicago.  

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