Slather on some SPF and plan an extended day in the sun this Sunday during the summer solstice. As cities around the world celebrate the longest day of the year in different ways, IgoUgo.com content manager Michelle Doucette shares her top picks for enjoying endless hours of sunshine.
CairoSun worshipers will feel right at home in Cairo during the solstice. "In 2006, an ancient sun temple was discovered in Cairo," Doucette says. "The site was once part of the Heliopolis, the center of sun worship in ancient Egypt." Sunday through Tuesday, the Fête de la Musique celebrates the solstice with free concerts around the city in streets, parks, museums and even train stations. touregypt.net/cairo
Bar HarborMaine For heliophiles looking to make the most of this celestial celebration, this Northeast coastal town should be on the itinerary. "It's the first place to see the sun rise on the East Coast," Doucette says. "An easy hike or drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain pays off with awe-inspiring 360-degree views of the sunrise." Legacy of the Arts Festival — an eight-day fest of art, music and culture — also begins this weekend, so take in a live outdoor concert or take a historic tour. 800-345-4617, barharborinfo.com
SedonaArizona "The rich Native American culture of Sedona makes it a perfect place to celebrate," Doucette says. "The Sun Dance is an important Native American ritual often performed around the time of the summer solstice." Make the most of those extra hours of daylight by scoping the natural landscape of red-rock monoliths. "Watching the sun rise over Sedona's otherworldly red-rock formations is a moving experience," she adds. 800-288-7336, visitsedona.com
CuscoPeru Tourists and hikers visiting the area this week will be treated to a festival of epic proportions. "Machu Picchu is the area's most important attraction and home to the Temple of the Sun, where during the solstice the sun shines directly on the temple's ceremonial stone," Doucette says. "The city is home to Inti Raymi, one of South America's largest festivals and a week-long solstice celebration of the sun." On Tuesday, high priests decked out in ceremonial robes, officials of the court and nobles parade through the flower-bedecked streets to music, prayers and dancing. As the sun sets, stacks of hay are set on fire, and the locals dance. cuscoperu.com
SeattleIf you find yourself soaking up the rays in the Northwest, Seattle celebrates the solstice in style. "Freemont is Seattle's funkiest neighborhood and the site of the 38th annual Freemont Fair, a celebration of the summer solstice," Doucette says. "The event is free, but all donations go to a good cause — they support the needy in Seattle." Watch as local performers take to the streets to showcase plays and concerts, and don't forget to treat your taste buds to the local cuisine. 206-461-5840, visitseattle.org
StonehengeEngland "Thousands of druids, partygoers and modern-day pagans celebrate the solstice at Stonehenge every year," Doucette says. The northeastern entrance to the sacred site exactly matches the direction of the midsummer sunrise. "Many believe its precise alignment during the solstice is too perfect to be accidental; many scholars believe Stonehenge was built as a monument to the sun." stonehenge.co.uk