Summer is a time when the Earth warms up, and we can all go outside and play. Of course, since the world is round, summer happens at different times of the year for the northern and southern hemisphere. For the purpose of this blog, “summer” is focused on the May-September range familiar to students as “summer vacation.”
I suppose we’re getting into an even more Americanized niche by not referring to it as “summer holiday,” as well. That doesn’t mean you have to stay up north – if you’re one of those weirdos with an unnatural fear of birds, you may appreciate heading south to experience perpetual winter. It’s not the worst idea.
As for everyone else, here are the summery things to look out for every year. We’ll cover major events, traditional festivals, and gatherings that are worth checking out because life is too short to stay inside all day.
1. Summer Traditions
The summertime features a ton of unique and often once-in-a-lifetime experiences as cultures around the world celebrate the end of winter. Cooper Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, for example, is responsible for all the viral videos you see on the last week of May. Burning Man, once a summer solstice festival, is now a massive event held in August.
Pamplona hosts its controversial San Fermin running of the bulls every July, and Spain also hosts La Tomatina, a massive tomato fight, which you can stay for in August. Or if you prefer, you can find one of the many Kite Festivals held around the world during summer months to see the sky fill with colors.
2. Beach and Boating Gatherings
Every beach and dock worldwide has festivals, parties, and gatherings throughout the summer. Look for yacht races, fishing tournaments, and more, and it’s not just the ocean. Lakes (especially major ones like the Great Lakes) and rivers have amazing summer activities to enjoy too. In a hot city like Phoenix, AZ, a quick trip up north to go Salt River Tubing is an easy way to escape the summer heat throughout the summer.
On the other side of the planet, the Dragon Boat Carnival in Hong Kong is exactly what it sounds like and must be seen to be believed. It’s similar to the crew teams you see in ivy league schools, but the boats have dragons. You’ll also feel like less of a douche watching it somewhere international.
3. Summer Music Festivals
Musicians LOVE touring in the summer. It’s their busiest time of the year, and you’ll have no problems finding shows from any generation of music. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is North America’s largest music festival, featuring seemingly endless stages simultaneously bumping the hottest DJs in the most beloved genres. Tomorrowland is Europe’s massive rave in July.
And, believe it or not, Lollapalooza is still chugging along, bringing an ecclectic mix of rock, rap, and culture to Chicago.
4. Summer Solstice Festivals
Midsummer’s Eve is June 24th, and it’s when Scandinavia still celebrates its Pagan Festival. The general idea is to gather and celebrate the warmth of summer on the approximate longest day of the year (typically June 20-22). Burning Man started in a similar way, but it was soon moved to a more convenient time.
Still, if you want to be so purist you out-cool the cool kids, attending a summer solstice gathering is the way to do it. Or you can just have fun and let others do the same.
5. Summer Sporting Events
There’s no shortage of sports during American football’s off-season. For example, the FIFA World Cup is much more beloved around the world. There’s also The Masters for golf, Wimbledon for tennis, and the Pan American Games to get whet your appetite while waiting for the Olympics.
I don’t forget all those toughman competitions, professional fights of every discipline, obstacle courses, and more. Summer is a great time to flex your physical abilities in outdoor or competitive activities.
6. North American Bird-Watching
As mentioned above, a large portion of the world’s bird population flocks toward warmer seasons throughout the year, migrating to stay in perpetual summer. This means summer is a great time for birding in North America.
8. Races Around the World
Outside of the Olympics, there are plenty of exciting races pitting humans against each other in tests of speed. The Royal Ascot Races is Europe’s summer version of the Kentucky Derby. The Indy 500 is one of North America’s biggest car races, and the Italian Grand Prix and Singapore Grand Prix are legendary races in their own rights.
And don’t miss out on the smaller, regional events featuring horse, car, and greyhound races all over the globe.
9. Professional Summer Events
Business runs through every season, and summer is no different. There are tons of great corporate events you can attend to learn about the latest trends in a broad range of categories. Fashion Weeks in New York and Miami are the places to learn the new styles. San Diego’s Comic-Con International is where all the latest Hollywood blockbuster announcements are made.
On the food side, the summer Fancy Food Show and Sweets and Snacks Expo are foodie paradises. You must go before you die. And E3 is the gaming event of the year, with all the latest console and game announcements being made for this holiday season.
10. Food, Drink, and Harvest Festivals
Let’s not forget Brazil’s Festa Junina summer harvest festival, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, where the best bourbons on Earth are showcased. And you can hit up any number of Cannabis Cup events High Times holds around the country.
Summer food, drink, and cannabis festivals are fast lanes to flavor country. Don’t miss out.