Midsummer celebrations – Watching sunrise on the longest day at Stonehenge is quite the experience but not always the most practical to arrange. Around Europe a variety of events take place. On June 24th in Nice there is the Fête de la Saint-Jean (St John) with music, a torchlight procession and seafront bonfires. You might also catch a firework display in Paris.
In London, it’s a big month for the Queen. Not only will there be the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but the Queen’s official birthday will be celebrated as usual by Trooping the Colour which will take place on Saturday 16th June on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Events begin at approximately 10.00am, with a fly-past at 1.00pm. A good place to stand is along The Mall or on the edge of St James’s Park overlooking Horse Guards.
June 8th sees the kick off for the European Soccer Championships, this time being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. You don’t need to be in either of those countries to get a flavour for the event which is held every four years. All matches will be widely shown across Europe as Spain defends their title in this 16 country competition.
There is more free music to enjoy in Paris at the annual fête de la musique, a fabulous day of street concerts, which is held on June 21st. Other cities have joined the trend of celebrating the longest day through music so there is plenty going on in Berlin as well.
Edinburgh stages seven different festivals through the summer and the season begins with the International film festival between the 20th of June and 1st of July.
Barcelona (Grec) Festival (mid June to early August) – Music, Theatre and Dance at a variety of places in the city, but principally at the Grec Theatre (a Greek style amphitheatre) which is located on the side of the Montjuic Hill. This is the 36th year for this event.
Calcio Storico (Florence June 24th to 26th) – Played on a sand pit in front of the Church of Santa Croce, this annual event is a brutal recreation of the earliest form of soccer. A kind of Ultimate Fighting with a ball in the middle and smoke bombs in the bleachers. If you cannot watch it live, just be around the spectacle to share some of the atmosphere.
All England Tennis Championships (Wimbledon – 25th June to 8th July) – One of the four Grand Slams and the only one played on grass. Tickets for the main courts in the second week require a lot of luck or cash, or both. However, get there early and join the official queue (line) for tickets on the outside courts and you will see some top action for sure.
June 16th in Dublin is Bloomsday, a commemoration of James Joyce’s work Ulysees. Tradition sees participants visiting the scenes also visited by the writers’ protagonist, Leopold Bloom. Dressed in Edwardian costume, people go on a huge crawl around the pubs mentioned whilst periodically listening to poetry readings, novel extracts and other literary gems along the way. Go along, enjoy the atmosphere or become acquainted with Joyce’s inspirations on one of the guided walks on the day.
Finally, if you are anywhere in Europe (except the west of Spain or Portugal) then at sunrise on June 6th you will be able to view the Transit of Venus. Make the most of the opportunity as it won’t happen again for another 105 years!
Will you be participating in any of these events?
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(Editor’s note: Paul Mattesini’s posts appear Tuesdays on Following the Equator. If you have a travel question for our resident expert tour director, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future posts.)