During the summer months in the countries around the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets. This phenomenon is referred to as the Midnight Sun, where the sun stays up for 24 hours of the day, often for several months at a time. It blesses these otherwise freezing regions with some well deserved fair weather, so the Midnight Sun is a cause for great celebration. As the temperatures soar in the ever-lit summers of Scandinavia, Northern Canada and Alaska, many come out for a number of Midnight Sun activities that include music, food and parties that last long into the night. Here are some of the best ways to celebrate the light fantastic that is the Midnight Sun...
Secret Solstice Music Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland
creativecommons.org/ Christine Zenino
The saddest thing about music festivals is that they always come to an end and you have to go to bed. However, every summer the Secret Solstice Music Festival takes place in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 72 hours of solid sunlight. Event organizers book hundreds of bands and DJs - which in the past have included Massive Attack, Woodkid, Carl Craig and Kerri Chandler - to ensure that if visitors want to watch some live music at four in the morning, they have something to see.
The festival is set outside the city in an expanse that has enough camping space for 9,000 people, should they wish to catch a bit of sleep. The festival has proven pivotal among Icelandic festivals. Before this event, a festival in Iceland consisted of putting up a few white tents and finding food and entertainment to fill them. The Secret Solstice Festival has chosen the theme of Norse mythology to decorate the land in which the festival is held. Rich furs, thick wooden tables with heavy benches and all manner of imagery from the legends abound throughout the festival grounds. This makes the aesthetic not only pleasing to the ears, but the eyes as well.
Midnight Sun Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
After such unpleasant winters, Alaskans relish the summertime. Not only because it brings warmer temperatures, but because the sun lingers in the sky in perpetual twilight during this time. By the time the summer solstice rolls around, the entire state is ready for a party. While many cities in Alaska hold some festival or event to honour the Midnight Sun, there is no grander affair than the Midnight Sun Festival in Fairbanks.
Each year, the city shuts down First, Second and Third Avenues in the downtown area to set up the festival. Kiosks sell food and crafts and live music begins to play. Alaskans flood the streets to mingle and partake in the merriment. The Alaska Gold Panners, the local baseball team, put on a traditional Midnight Sun baseball game. It starts at 10pm and is the only baseball game in the United States to play without the aid of artificial lighting.
Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromso, Norway
Creativecommons.org/ Tristan Schmurr
With 24 hours of daylight, going for a run in the middle of the night doesn’t seem quite so strange! The town of Tromso, Norway, took a simple midnight run and turned the dial up to eleven by making it into a full-fledged marathon event.
Every year on the Summer Solstice, runners from over 50 countries go to run in the northernmost marathon in the world. Runners start in the city centre, cross the Tromso Bridge, then run at a slight incline uphill through the surrounding Norwegian wilderness before looping around back to the city centre again. The race starts around 10pm and runs until the last competitor crosses the finish line. While the full marathon is the main event, it also hosts a half marathon, 10-kilometre race, a 4.2-kilometre fun run and a children's race to assure that all have fun while basking in the Midnight Sun.
Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankyla, Finland
During the second week in June, the town of Sodankyla in Finland celebrates the Midnight Sun in its own way - by holding a film festival. The festival shows films without taking a break all day and all night. Some 20 to 30 modern movies from all parts of the world are shown, as well as contemporary Finnish films and cinema classics. During some portions of the film festival, the movies are presented as part of master classes that are given by various film theory experts.
The festival is well renowned as an introductory platform for younger directors and it attracts yearly attendance of around 20,000 people. Due to its rising popularity and the captivating setting, the queues for the films have grown quite long - regardless of the time of day, so visitors should arrive early to get a good seat.
Midnight Sun Golf Tournament in Dawson City, Canada
If a music festival, a film festival and marathon can be held in the light of the Midnight Sun, then why not a golf tournament as well?
Every year on the summer solstice, a small town in the Yukon called Dawson City hosts its annual Midnight Sun Golf Tournament. On the Dawson City Golf Course, teams of five - each of which must contain at least one woman - gather to play in their best-ball tournament. For those unfamiliar with best-ball rules, the tournament uses the best shot of all five players to decide which team wins. In order to enjoy the never-ending sunshine, the tournament starts late in the evening. Registration for this friendly tournament is a lofty $200, but it covers not only registration but dinner and a chance at some awesome prizes as well.