How to celebrate summer solstice in Germany

How to celebrate summer solstice in Germany

The Scandinavians may have the greatest claim over summertime celebrations, but Germany does its fair share of bonfire-burning, herb collecting and chanting too. Here’s how to celebrate summer solstice in Germany.

What is summer solstice?

The nights may have been long for a while now and temperatures are heating up, but only this week does summer officially begin - astronomically speaking.

Summer solstice, known as Sonnenwende or Sommersolstitium in German, marks the beginning of astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere; when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, giving us the longest day of the year. For those in the southern hemisphere, the same day is the shortest day of the year.

How is summer solstice celebrated in Germany?

Traditionally, revellers in Germany shoo away evil spirits on the summer solstice, hoping for good weather and a fruitful harvest. Surrounding a bonfire, there are fireworks, dancing - which was once done wearing only a belt of herbs and flowers - alongside a chance to write down wishes you hope come true and throw them into the fire.

Bonfire hopping is also integral, within couples jumping over the crackling fire holding hands. If they manage not to let go, a wedding is supposedly in order. In other antics true to German fashion, the herbs from women’s flower crowns are kept from the evening to create homoeopathic medicines which are thought to be particularly “effective”. 

In many ways, summer solstice celebrations are similar to St John’s Eve in Germany and Swedish Midsummer, but it is a separate celebration which falls within a busy few days in the middle of summer when all of these occasions are marked. While the Sonnenwende festival of light and fire is recognised with small events and festivals in Germany, it does not have the same significance in the cultural calendar as the Swedish Midsummer.

When is summer solstice in 2024?

Because the Gregorian calendar is not exactly aligned with the time it takes for the Earth to rotate around the sun, the day on which the summer solstice falls varies slightly from year to year. In 2024, the summer solstice falls on Thursday, June 20. 

Here’s how you can ring in the summer solstice in Germany, with dancing, bonfires and some appreciation of mother nature:

Dance round the fire in Conneforde

If you want to go back to basics, locals in Conneforde near the German North Sea coastline have been lighting a bonfire on summer solstice since 1920, and this year is no exception.

From 5pm visitors can enjoy a pre-lighting programme, with puppet shows and games. The bonfire will be lit at 8pm, accompanied by a concert, fireworks and food at affordable prices.

The Rose and Light Festival in Frankfurt

The Rose and Light Festival, held in Frankfurt every June since 1931, is seen as one of the cultural highlights of the city's summer calendar.

During the festival, the Palm Garden (Palmengarten) botanical gardens are converted into a magical oasis of flowers which are illuminated by thousands of lanterns, tea lights and candles. The floral displays are accompanied by various live music and dance performances throughout the day. 

The festival programme includes guided tours, workshops and lectures, in addition to an entertaining programme for children. tollwood-summer-festival-germany.png

Image credit: Framalicious /

Tollwood Summer Festival

First founded in 1988, Tollwood Summer Festival in Munich acts as a hub for cultural and ecological activities aimed at making the world more sustainable. Expect to see everything from contemporary circus performances to comedy acts, cabaret shows and more. 

Every year, more than 1,5 million people visit the festival and in 2024, 70 percent of the events are free. Visit the festival’s Market of Ideas, which brings together culinary delights and artisan handicrafts, and gives visitors the chance to sample fair trade food, drinks and handmade products from around the world.

Berlin Summer Funfair

The Summer Funfair in Berlin has been entertaining locals since 1963 - that's a whopping 61 years of selling candyfloss and giving out prizes! Don't worry though, it's definitely moved with the times, and as well as the old-fashioned favourites like hoopla and hook-a-duck, there are also plenty of stomach-churning rides and roller coasters.

There are over 70 attractions at the Berlin Summer Funfair this year, so no chance of getting bored! You can find the fair on Zentraler Festplatz, near the old Tegel Airport, which can be reached by the number 21 bus. It is a 10-minute bus ride from either Kurt-Schumacher-Platz or Jakob-Kaiser-Platz U-Bahn stations.


Sleepwalk the Dog perform at Fête de la Musique 2023 / Image credit: Pressefoto FeteDeLaMusique 2023 – Ⓒ Jim Kroft

Fête de la Musique Berlin

Another great free fest - Berliners kick off the summer with Fête de la Musique on June 21 each year. Without paying a cent, you can hear DJs, rock bands, jazz quartets, pop acts, choirs, orchestras and soloists throughout the city, particularly in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte and Pankow. There are over 100 venues across Berlin, with musicians hailing from 340 cities worldwide.

As its name might suggest, the festival began in France. Founded in 1982 by the French Minister of Culture, the concept has expanded into a global success. The first Berlin Fête de la Musique took place in 1995 and it’s now one of the most widely-attended festivals in the capital.

Happy summer solstice!

However you decide to ring in the sweaty, sticky, verdant months, happy summer solstice!

Thumb image credit: Jesus Fernandez /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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