Summer solstice: How to celebrate the longest day of the year in the Netherlands

Summer solstice: How to celebrate the longest day of the year in the Netherlands

One of the best things about summer in the Netherlands is longer days with more time to soak up what sun we do get. What better time to get out and enjoy some rays than on the longest day of the year: the summer solstice.

This day in June, which marks the astronomical start of summer, is an important part of history with many traditions tied to it in various cultures. Let’s get into everything you need to know about the summer solstice in the Netherlands. 

Summer solstice 2024

Occurring when the North Pole’s tilt towards the sun is at its greatest, the June solstice marks the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere and is therefore also called the summer solstice in this part of the world. At the same time on the other side of the world, the southern hemisphere experiences its shortest day of the year, known as the winter solstice.

The summer solstice is also known as midsummer in some countries, especially those in Europe, and is often seen as the middle of summer. The summer solstice for 2024 in the Netherlands takes place on June 20 at 10.50pm, bringing the longest day of the year at almost 17 hours.  

History of the summer solstice 

There is evidence that the summer solstice has been observed since the Stone Age in many parts of the world, such as Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Arguably one of the best-known neolithic monuments that aligns with the movements of the sun is Stonehenge in the UK, where the sun shines into the centre of the stone circle during the summer solstice. 

Archaeologists discovered a 4.000-year-old solar calendar in Tiel in the Netherlands as recently as 2023. Surrounding a burial mound is a ditch with several passages through which the sun shines on important astronomical days such as the summer and winter solstices. The fact that shrines and a solar observatory are found in one location indicates that this area was most likely used for important rituals and traditions. 

Ancient monuments such as these show that the movements of the sun played an important role in early cultures around the world. In some parts of Northern Europe, the date is still celebrated with the lighting of bonfires and other festivities. In Sweden, Midsummer celebrations are an integral part of traditions and include dancing around a maypole, singing, drinking and sharing a feast with friends and family

Dutch events to celebrate the longest day of the year

In the Netherlands, the longest day of the year is not as culturally significant as it is in other countries, which means that there aren’t any specific Dutch traditions to observe on the day. However, if you still want to attend a summer solstice celebration in the Netherlands, you can find plenty events and festivals with summer vibes that take place around the time of the June solstice.  

Solstice Ruigoord, Amsterdam

Dance under the sun and celebrate the summer solstice at the Ruigoord Solstice Festival in Amsterdam. With an exhibition, chill-out areas and multiple stages where psychedelic trance music with a modern twist is played, this solstice celebration is a great way to experience the old tribal midsummer night rituals. 

Video: YouTube / Simeon in 't Veld

Midzomernacht, Amsterdam

Midzomernacht celebrates the longest day of the year and the shortest night of the year, and kicks off the summer, all in one huge party with an evening full of performances, a fire ceremony that gives a nod to old traditions and a fully-fledged club night. If you go to this midsummer festival hosted by a restaurant in Amsterdam, you’ll be making the most of the extra hours of sunshine, as it continues well into the morning.   

Summer Solstice Island Gathering, De Kluut

Not just one day, but a whole week of revelry, the Summer Solstice Island Gathering offers a safe space to enjoy the celebrations around the longest day of the year on an island off the shore of Harderwijk in Flevoland. Just 90 minutes away from Amsterdam by public transport, you can camp in nature, swim in the lake and meet new people in a unique gathering.   

Floating Flower Parade

What says summer more than thousands of flowers on boats floating through Dutch canals? The Floating Flower Parade travels through various Dutch cities and is quite the spectacle with more than 50 boats decorated with a colourful array of blooms, fruits and vegetables. Add music and performers, and you have yourself the perfect event to celebrate summer!

Image credit: SkandaRamana / floating-flower-parade-summer-netherlands.png

Flag Day, The Hague

Taking place each year in Scheveningen, Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag) is one of the biggest events in The Hague. This Dutch tradition celebrates the first herring catch of the year with marching bands, games, markets and an auction. You’ll also be able to grab some herring for yourself, so if you’re looking for a Dutch way to enjoy the summer, why not try this event dedicated to the Dutch snack?

Happy summer solstice!

The longest day of the year is here and with it, we’ll hopefully have plenty of sunny weather and beach days to follow. Whether you celebrate or not, happy summer solstice!

Simone Jacobs


Simone Jacobs

Editor for the Netherlands at IamExpat Media. Simone studied Genetics and Zoology at the Univeristy of Pretoria in South Africa before moving to the Netherlands, where she has been working...

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