16 Places to Celebrate the Solstice - Atlas Obscura Lists

16 Places to Celebrate the Solstice

Revel in the darkness and the light at ancient astronomical clocks and fiery festivals.

Mankind has been obsessed with the movements of those distant lights in the sky since long before we understood the forces that propelled them. Since the dawn of written history, ancient astronomers have paid particular attention to the darkest and the brightest days of the year. 

There are places built specifically to revel in the passage of the winter or summer solstices around the globe. They range from an ancient Mayan observatory to a 20-foot-tall “Light Pyramid” designed as a temple to the sun in the 1960s. There’s a Romanesque basilica in Italy where the light of the winter solstice creates mysterious patterns on the frescoes each year, as well as a striking sculpture squarely in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, that aligns with the solstices. 

As well as millennia-old monuments, humans honor the passing of the solstices with riotous festivities each year, from a rowdy parade in Seattle to burning effigies in Alicante, Spain.