To say the summer solstice is a big deal in Scandinavia is an understatement: In Sweden, for instance, the midsummer holiday comes second only to Christmas in terms of the scale of celebration. After a season of short, dark days, it’s little wonder those Nordic types break open the schnapps and toast the high point of summer. And given Seattle’s seasonal similarities and Scandinavian heritage, it makes sense that the solstice (which falls on June 20 this year) is a special occasion here, too.
Beery Ballads in Ballard
Sample Nordic beers and learn to sing along to “Helan Går” (the Swedish equivalent of “Roll Out the Barrel”) and other boozy tunes on Midsummer’s Eve, June 19, at the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Nordic Beer Tasting and Drinking Songs. $30 members, $35 nonmembers. nordicmuseum.org
Pole Dancing in Poulsbo
Join the Poulsbo Sons of Norway on Saturday, June 18 for the annual Midsommarfest in the city’s Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park. Activities include raising a flower- and ribbon-bedecked maypole (a tradition that dates back to pagan festivities), floral garland making, traditional Norwegian dance performances and, in the evening, a bonfire. Free admission. poulsbosonsofnorway.com
Freewheeling in Fremont
The annual Fremont Solstice Parade, preceded by a swarm of naked, body-painted cyclists, is as unique as the neighborhood. The June 18 parade is the highlight of the weekend-long Fremont Solstice Fair, June 17–19, which also includes a dog parade, live music (this year returns to the free concert format with local indie folk band Hey Marseilles and Portland alt-rockers The Helio Sequence as headliners), alfresco yoga, busker performances, interactive art activities, a craft market, food trucks, a beer garden and more. Free admission. fremontfair.org
Picnic in Solstice Park
The longest day of the year is the perfect day to explore petite Solstice Park (seattle.gov/parks), a little-known gem in West Seattle’s Fauntleroy neighborhood. Check out the sundial, created to mark the solstice (and the equinox), atop a hill that offers views of the Sound and the Olympics. To make the most of the experience, pack a picnic basket with Nordic summer favorites, such as pickled herring, boiled new potatoes, grilled salmon and strawberries with cream. Find authentic fare at Scandinavian Specialties (scanspecialties.com) in Ballard.