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High Locations for the Winter Solstice and Winter Festivals

The winter solstice (or yuletide for pagans) happens within the Northern Hemisphere on Friday twenty second December. It marks the longest evening and shortest day of the yr, and focuses upon the rebirth of the solar in Pagan lore.

Essentially the most well-known celebration of the winter solstice within the UK is well known at Stonehenge from dawn. This mysterious and magical monument has been a preferred place to mark the altering of the seasons for the final 4,000 years. There are lots of different places and winter solstice occasions that happen throughout the globe in addition to many winter festivals that give us an ideal alternative to embrace the winter months.

Should you’re in search of a last-minute escape or simply get pleasure from visiting nations out of season guide a winter break! Observe the winter solstice or embrace the season at a winter competition. Beneath are a few of our favorite winter vacation locations that can assist you get essentially the most out of winter.

The Karnak Temple, Egypt

Though its dry and sizzling for many of the yr, Egypt is a cushty place to go to in December. You’ll be able to stroll alongside golden sands and go for a dip within the Pink Sea. On December twenty first, witness the winter solstice when the typical temperatures are 17°C to 22°C (63°F to 72°F). You’ll solely want a light-weight jumper! To expertise the winter solstice in spectacular vogue, make your technique to the Karnak Temple Advanced at Luxor.

The Karnak Temple  is a big historic website, which was developed between the Twelfth and Twentieth Dynasties. Throughout that point, Egyptian pharaohs added their very own buildings to create the awe-inspiring advanced we see at this time. The traditional Egyptian’s believed that it was the place creation started. Right this moment it’s nonetheless seen as a spot of worship. It continues to attract crowds on the twenty first of December at daybreak.

Don’t be mistaken. Attending the winter solstice right here isn’t your common dawn. It’s a photo voltaic alignment phenomenon. Convey your digital camera to seize the solar coming into the Karnak Temple from the east. It’s beams run alongside the temple’s important axis and flood into the Holy of Holies (a sanctuary the place statues of the Egyptian gods have been saved). The solar will then glide as much as brighten the temple of Hatshepsut (constructed by Queen Hatshepsut).

This astronomical phenomena out within the desert lasts for 20 minutes. Keep longer to observe Egyptian folks dances, because the solar rises within the sky.


Chester, England

Saturnalia was a winter competition that passed off all through the Roman Empire to rejoice the Roman god of farming (Saturn). It was celebrated by the Romans and passed off between roughly seventeenth – twenty third December. Some argue that the primary Christian emperor changed Saturnalia with Christmas after he grew up celebrating Saturnalia.

In honour of Saturn, everybody (together with slaves and their masters) met collectively at a temple to sacrifice younger pigs. The opposite festivities included consuming the pigs the following day and ingesting wine. Presents have been shared and video games have been performed, so you possibly can see the parallels with Christmas! Exterior down the streets a celebration ambiance existed for all the place individuals wore ‘celebration garments’. Subsequent, everybody watched a gladiator battle within the city.

Saturnalia was a winter competition that ran throughout seven days. Right this moment, it’s celebrated by reconstructionist pagans the world over. Need to rejoice it earlier than Christmas Day? Watch the Saturnalia Parade inside the Roman metropolis of Chester. After a spot of Christmas purchasing, you possibly can meet with the locals at Chester’s City Corridor and step again in time.

Hear Emperor Domitian ship his speech to substantiate Roman rule and watch a grand procession march down the streets, led by the Roman Deva Victrix twentieth Legion. Cheer because the Legion marches previous you with their flaming torches in hand. The occasion finishes with a fire-breathing finale. End your weekend in Chester with a hearty roast inside considered one of its historic pubs discovered alongside Decrease Bridge Road.


Florø, Norway

Have you ever ever spent New Yr’s Eve in St Ives, Cornwall? You could know that the locals gown in numerous costumes and cheer to welcome the brand new yr, then watch a spectacular fireworks show! In Norway, inside the western down of Florø the locals take their dressing up a stage additional. A winter carnival known as Kjippen – the Carnival of the New Yr is well known on New Yr’s Eve. It started within the nineteenth Century as a protest in opposition to unjust wages. Having saved this spirit there may be typically a spirit of riot with satirical undertones. Having stated that, general it’s a vibrant and vibrant spectacle.

As a substitute of fireworks at midnight – individuals gown as vibrant characters and parade previous Florø’s fairly chocolate field homes. Whether or not on foot or upon a lit-up float, every character carries a satirical message on a poster. You could wish to do your homework beforehand to know the jokes! All through the night, pop-up avenue performers take turns to entertain the crowds. Then, all of the characters meet to burn their placards on a blazing bonfire.

This carnival could also be uncommon. Nonetheless, this inventive custom provides color to Florø’s streets in winter as a singular attraction for locals and vacationers. As it’s far sufficient North, you may mix it with a winter break in Norway to witness the colorful Northern Lights. View our Norway Holidays weblog to study extra.



Scotland is price a go to at any time of the yr, in the event you wish to admire mountainous panorama and pattern wealthy delicacies. Nonetheless, why not go to from New Yr’s Eve or the second week of January? Darkness could fall within the Shetland Islands by 3pm however on the east coast of Scotland, distinctive mid-winter hearth festivals happen!

On New Yr’s Eve welcome a brand new yr by travelling to Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen. Right here, a Fireball Ceremony (pagan purification ritual) takes place. Hear the sounds of pipes and drums and watch a blaze of fireballs whizz above the heads of people who parade down the road carrying them. The occasion involves an in depth because the fireballs (the ghost of the outdated yr), are flown into the ocean at Stonehaven Harbour.

Then on the eleventh of January, be part of the individuals of Burghead to rejoice the brand new yr (as soon as once more) for the The Burning of the Clavie. These celebrations begin by setting a cask (break up in two) alight filled with staves. It’s carried all through the city, intently adopted by crowds – in direction of Doorie Hill (the battlements of an historical fort). The cask then sits as much as be refuelled and admired by all as its gentle dims and burns out. Then it rolls down the hill and everybody rejoices. Take a bit of the smouldering Clavie residence – thought to carry good luck within the coming yr!

This occasion has taken place for the reason that 1750’s. Since this time, Burghead’s locals have celebrated New Yr’s Eve twice a yr to insurgent in opposition to the brand new Gregorian calendar, which modified to start out 11 days sooner than their unique New Yr’s Eve celebrations. In saying that, the origins of this conventional winter competition in Scotland could be older. You’d need to ask an area to make sure…

Burghead new year festival

Ottawa, Canada

In 1979, Ottawa’s first winter competition known as Winterlude passed off. Since its inception, Winterlude’s goal has been to rejoice Canada’s distinctive northern tradition and local weather – after the organisers have been impressed by their Canadian ancestors who commonly met collectively in winter. So, the Winterlude Winter Pageant was born!

Right this moment, Winterlude is North America’s finest winter competition. The free occasion (organised by 800 volunteers) takes place throughout the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau in Quebec (Canada’s French province). Expertise the competition for your self in the course of the first three weekends in February. The competition’s actions embrace connecting with native indigenous individuals and admiring world‑class ice sculptures (the bulk created in the course of the Winterlude Nationwide Ice‑Carving Championship) alongside a cultural program.

Travelling with kids? Have enjoyable taking part in in a snow playground dubbed ‘Snowflake Kingdom’ in Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau. Additionally, look out for impediment races, mazes, Olympic sports activities, and acoustic reveals inside this winter wonderland. Canada by no means fails to supply a blanket of snow in winter. So, this place ought to be successful. Children (and people younger at coronary heart) can even discover winter sports activities comparable to tube sliding or skating on the close by historic skate rink. This simply occurs to be a UNESCO World Heritage Website known as the Rideau canal and is open for leisure craft outdoors of the winter months.


Winterlude ice sculpture


Journey insurance coverage for winter vacation locations

Will you be reserving a vacation in the course of the winter months? Uncover the perfect of winter by witnessing the winter solstice, hearth shows, ice sculptures or snow however don’t neglect to take Free Spirit Journey Insurance coverage. Appropriate for winter vacation locations – each side of the Atlantic – journey, with confidence this winter.

Plus, in the event you want to take part in an array of winter sports clothing the suitable clothes and add winter sports activities to your coverage earlier than heading out within the snow.



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