Time to soak up the sun D.C. The longest day of the year will bring hours of golden rays during the summer solstice on June 21.
Not only does it mark the first day of summer, but it is an ancient tradition, an astrological phenomenon or, simply, as a way to celebrate more sunlight. Many cultures observe this day with feasts, dancing, bonfires and picnics. In the D.C. area, there will be late-night exhibit hours, parties, concerts, yoga and more.
The solstice may be Wednesday, but events are popping up all week long to welcome summer. Here are some unique ways to enjoy the nearly 15 hours of sunlight in the D.C. area:
Smithsonian Solstice Saturday
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📅 Sat., June 24
📍 National Mall, Washington D.C.
The biggest D.C. area celebration is the Smithsonian’s Solstice Saturday. The event includes free parties, programs and extended hours at museums on the National Mall, including three museums staying open until midnight. Be sure to plan ahead, some of the museums require that you pre-register.
Here’s the full schedule- including all of your favorite museums:
- ☀️ Joe Tohonnie Jr. and the Apache Crown Dancers, guided gallery tours, National Museum of the American Indian, various performances times; 1- 8 p.m.
- 🎨 Late-night exhibit hours, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; 5-10 p.m.
- 🎧 DJ sets by Les The DJ, curator programming, gallery access, National Museum of Asian Art and Enid A. Haupt Garden; 5:30 p.m.- midnight
- 🎶 Sounds of Africa and light show, exhibition tours, African Art Museum; 5:30 p.m.-midnight
- 🐘 Late Night at the Museum: Exhibit Opening + Solstice Saturday, Natural History Museum; 6:30-midnight
- 🦅 Pop-culture exhibition, “Entertainment Nation,” and activities, American History Museum; 5:30-10 p.m.
- 🕹️ Glow Night Arcade Party, Arts and Industries Building; 7-11 p.m.
- 🌱 Conversations, free pop-up mint planters, National Museum of African American History and Culture; 5:30-10 p.m.
- 🪐 Planetarium shows, Hofstra University’s Astronomy Festival, Air and Space Museum and on the National Mall; 6- 11 p.m.
Foamhenge in Virginia
People travel all over the world to visit Stonehenge in England on the summer solstice, why not pilgrimage to one of several existing U.S. replicas located in nearby Virginia.
Artist Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studio created it in 2004 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Natural Bridge, Virginia, before it moved to Cox Farms in 2017. Foamhenge is carved out of 16-foot-tall blocks of Styrofoam, spray-painted grey and anchored with concrete. Note the sculpture is accessible by shuttle from the farm's Corner Market.
Summer Solstice Celebration on U Street
📅 Wed., June 21 and Sat., June 24
📍 Temperance Alley Garden, D.C.
Join Temperance Alley Garden in marking the changing of the seasons. First, with a meditation on June 21 that will reflect on the longest day of the year. Then with a Summer Solstice Celebration on June 24 that will celebrate the sun moving through the sky with learning, community, as well as food and drink.
“This point of stillness is our SUMMER SOLSTICE. Come to the Garden to properly celebrate when we are in this yearly cycle!” the website reads.
Salute the Sunset:
📅 Sat. June 24, 7-8 p.m.
📍 National Harbor, Maryland
Watch the sunset at the National Harbor as the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants serenade you and your family. Bringing a blanket and grabbing food from a nearby restaurant is encouraged.
Summer Solstice Cocktail Garden Party
📅 Wed., June 21, 5:30 p.m.
📍 King & Rye, Alexandria, Virginia
The King & Rye restaurant will ring in summer by launching its Cocktail Garden with activities, cocktails, photo moments and a menu by Executive Chef Tomas Chavarria, who competed on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.
Summer Solstice Forest Bathing
📅 Wed., June 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
📍 James E. Bunn Amphitheater, D.C.
Ground yourself in the natural world and community on a guided walk through the forests of Oxon Run.
Summer Solstice Yoga
📅 Wed., June 21, 6-7 p.m.
📍 909 Rose Ave., Bethesda, Maryland
Stretch your way through the start of summer with an all-levels, rejuvenating yoga flow on a rooftop.