It's June the 21, the Southern Winter Solstice.

Today is New Zealand's shortest day. If you're unfortunate enough to be on Campbell Island, this means the sun sulks across the sky for a brief seven hours.

If you're on Scott Base, firstly, "hello", secondly, I have some bad news:
Sunrise is still two months away, on Sunday, August 19. Hang on in there.

As the earth gently rocks on its axis the Winter Solstice falls predictably between June the 20 and June 22.

Advertisement

It's a pretty unfortunate day to have a birthday.

However there is one positive takeaway from the solstice, from here on the days are getting longer.

Rejoice! Summer is coming.

For this reason the winter and summer solstices have been marked by people around the world for Eons. While we shiver our way through the winter, the Northern Hemisphere's summer is reaching fever pitch.

Druids and curious tourists are massing at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plains and in Sweden "Midsommar" is the high-point of the calendar.

There's so much happening for travellers in this brief 24 hour window.

Here's our guide on where to see in the solstice:

Sweden, Dalarna

No one does midsummer quite like the Swedes. In Sweden the year encompasses polar opposites in seasons. The countryside goes from extreme winters to summers of glorious midnight sun or "Midnattssol."

Wild flowers: Midsommar is observed in Slottsskogen, Sweden. Photo / Thomas Janisch, Getty
Wild flowers: Midsommar is observed in Slottsskogen, Sweden. Photo / Thomas Janisch, Getty

During midsummer the dour, usually reserved Swedes take to the lakes and open spaces for a day-long party.

Nowhere is it better to see this than in Dalarna. Midsummer is marked here by drinking snapps, singing songs and erecting large poles or "Åmmeberg", for dancing around.

Also, flower picking. Local tradition states that if you go to sleep on Midsommar with wild flowers under your pillow, you will dream of the person you will marry.

Though most revellers never to go to sleep, they'll be up all night partying - all four hours of it!

Rites of summer: The Solstice at Stonehenge prehistoric monument. Photo / Rufus Cox, Getty
Rites of summer: The Solstice at Stonehenge prehistoric monument. Photo / Rufus Cox, Getty

England, Glastonbury Tor and Stonehenge

Up to 18000 people arrive every year for sunrise at Stonehenge, causing chaos.

It's the day when Britain's great Neolithic monument ceases to be a curious pile of stones and becomes a celestial calendar.

It also seems to become a magnet for some very funky folk. Wickens or self-proclaimed pagans gather for the solstice along with the tourist hordes looking to gawp at the spectacle.

Another great ritual of the summer solstice is the great A303 traffic jam, when the nearby road comes to a standstill.

If you want a more relaxed setting to contemplative the day's astral significance, head to Glastonbury Tor.

The Tor is a man made mountain, just besides the UK's most celebrated music festival.

The ruins of St Michael's church are a more recent addition – say 1270AD - but the mound itself was built in 200BC to celebrate the sun reaching its highest summer path.

Mayan Serpenti: El Castillo or the Temple of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza, Mexico. Photo / Getty Images
Mayan Serpenti: El Castillo or the Temple of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza, Mexico. Photo / Getty Images

Mexico, Chichen Itza

The ancient Mayans of Mexico were equally obsessed with equinoxes.

Just outside the Mexican town of Piste, in Yucatan, midsummer visitors are in for a treat.

At the Kukulacan pyramid something spectacular happens during the summer equinox. Its cascading shadow descends the steps like an undulating serpent.

Winter solstice is just as important. On the December Solstice the sun rises along the edge of the great monument. To a person sat at the foot of the pyramid, the sun appears to roll up the steps.

Temple of Doom: Karnak at sunrise is like something out of Indiana Jones. Photo / Alberto Cassani, Getty
Temple of Doom: Karnak at sunrise is like something out of Indiana Jones. Photo / Alberto Cassani, Getty

Egypt, Karnak

Karnak is a bucket list destination for many people but visitors arriving between December 20 and 23 can see something amazing.

During the northern Winter Solstice the suns rays pass through the great columns of the Karnak Temple.

Like something out of Indiana Jones, the sun illuminates the inner sanctuary of Amun.
From a some 650 ancient sites, most Egyptian temples were built to mark events such as the Equinox Winter and Summer Solstices.

Just outside of Luxor, and near the Valley of the Kings, Karnak is just one spectacular Egyptian temple to visit.

Quebecoise: Midsummer dusk in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Photo / Getty Images
Quebecoise: Midsummer dusk in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Photo / Getty Images

Canada, Quebec on St John's Day

In the French-speaking region of Quebec, the Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste is a national holiday.

The date, June 24th, coincides with midsummer and is observed across the Catholic world as St John's Day. Although the Christian reclamation was an attempt to sanitise the event, it still retains many of its Pagan sun-worshipping elements.

Introduced by French colonists, the day is marked with parades and fireworks.

Out in the provinces, loyal Québécoise celebrate by lighting bonfires and holding music festivals.

Open today until 4pm. Self guided tours all day. Private guided tours by arrangement (in advance). Next public guided tours next weekend (both days) at 11am

Posted by Stonehenge Aotearoa on Saturday, 9 June 2018

New Zealand Wellington, Aotearoa Stonehenge

The Southern Summer Solstice is still a long way away.

In New Zealand it falls between December 20 and December 23. This means there is still plenty of time to get planning!

The Aotearoahenge might just be the place to go.

Built to resemble its boreal cousin, the Aotearoa Stonehenge is a modern interpretation of the famous henge in the North.

It's a far more recent addition to the list, completed in 2005.

However it's already world renowned as a place to observe the rising of the sun on the Southern Solstice. Having not had to endure 5000 years of wear-and-tear, it still has all 24 of its stone arches through which to observe the celestial events.

The June Solstice is for more hardy visitors, but Aotearoa Stonehenge's winter opening hours are from 10am to 4pm.

Guided tours are offered all year round, for visitors who need a little more explanation on divining the Aotearoahenge's astrological significance.