How to celebrate the summer solstice in Iowa

How to celebrate the summer solstice in Iowa

Photo courtesy of Levi Guzman via Unsplash.

By Katie Giorgio

June 20, 2024

While the weather has been fabulous for weeks, summer officially starts on Thursday, June 20th (specifically at 3:50 p.m. CST) this year. That’s the date of the summer solstice, a time of celebration marking the natural start of the season.

It’s the longest day of the year — here in Iowa, that means some six hours and five minutes more daylight than during the depths of winter — as the Earth has its maximum tilt toward the sun. 

Celebrating the solstice is a tradition that goes back thousands of years as many cultures marked the event as significant. Festivals and rituals abound all around the world and across time.

Ancient structures like Stonehenge align with the rising and setting sun on this day. Bonfires are another way that people throughout history have marked the solstice. Others get up to enjoy the sunrise and then watch the sunset. You could make a flower crown or work in your garden. Many say the summer solstice is a time of renewal and rebirth, so it’s a good time for self-renewal. 

While you might like to celebrate the solstice on your own, there are plenty of opportunities around the state if you are looking to do something special for a solstice celebration this year. Check out this list of a few summer solstice-specific events that will help you mark the occasion in a sun-sational way. 

1. Hanlontown

June 20

This small town located about two hours north of Des Moines (three miles west of Interstate 35 on Iowa Highway 9) is a great spot to spend the first day of summer. Since 1980, Hanlontown has celebrated the summer solstice, watching the sun set between the rails of the Union Pacific Railroad line that runs through the community. There’s a bike ride around town, called HAGBRAT (which is inspired by RAGBRAI), followed by ice cream sundaes served near the railroad tracks to watch the sun slip away for the day. Though the town has just about 200 residents, it is certainly a memorable place to mark this year’s solstice. 

2. Strawberry Solstice Float

June 21, 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Hickory Grove County Park, Colo

Celebrating the solstice on the water is another option. Story County Conservation is hosting a Strawberry Solstice Float event on the evening of June 21 as the solstice also coincides with the June full moon, which is often called the “Strawberry Moon.” Story County naturalists will lead attendees in hands-on training for paddling kayaks and stand-up paddle boards at Hickory Grove County Park. All equipment will be provided. Registration is required. 

3. Summer Solstice Sound Healing Meditation

June 20, 7 p.m.

Big Woods Lake Recreation Area, Cedar Falls

Another option for celebrating the solstice involves a sound healing session. Hosted by Wildheart Coaching & Events, this sound bath (no getting in the water involved!) will be held at Big Woods Lake Recreation Area. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket, mat, pillow, or chair to get comfortable. Registration is not required by a suggested donation of at least $10-$15 to participate is encouraged. 

4. Summer Solstice Sacred Sisterhood Circle

June 22, 4 to 9:30 p.m.

Clear Lake

Another way to celebrate the solstice and get in touch with your spiritual side is at the Summer Solstice Sacred Sisterhood Circle hosted by Mindful Methods in Clear Lake. The five-plus-hour event has been in the planning stages for months. Organizer Alyssa Gutierrez said the event will “gather in honor of the divine feminine energy that resides within each of us. The event is open to all women, providing a safe and sacred space to embrace a shared sisterhood and connect with the essence of femininity and the powerful energies of the Summer Solstice.” Creative activities and crafts, rituals, and sacred medicine ceremonies will take place to awaken minds, spirits, and hearts to the abundance of summer. A potluck meal is also included along with refreshing herbal beverages. This is a donation-based event and advanced registration is requested. 

5. Full Moon Summer Solstice Yoga

June 21, 6 p.m.

Dubuque Riverwalk, Dubuque

Summer solstice yoga is also happening in Dubuque to mark the official start of summer. B-1 Yoga will host a yoga practice on the Dubuque Riverwalk on Friday, June 21 at 6 p.m. Instructors will help those attending celebrate the magic in both the summer solstice and the full strawberry moon. There is a $10 fee to join this drop-in yoga class that is designed for all skill levels. 

6. SILT Solstice Party

June 21, 6 to 10:30 p.m.

Fairfield Golf & Country Club, Fairfield

Perhaps giving back is a way you’d like to mark this year’s solstice. Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, a nonprofit land trust with a mission to permanently protect Iowa farmland for sustainable table food production, will host their annual celebration on June 21 from 6 to 10:30 p.m. in Fairfield at the Fairfield Golf and Country Club. This is the 6th annual event which serves as a fundraiser for the organization helping expand their mission. Food and drinks will be served (there’s a cash bar). You’ll learn more about the organization’s champions and projects. Later, Fairfield’s hottest dance band, The Roman Cadillacs, will play for non-stop dancing and fun. It’s a party with a purpose! 

7. Summer Solstice Hike at North Woods Park in Sumner

June 20, 6 p.m.

North Woods, Sumner

Perhaps a lovely hike to mark the start of summer is just what you need. Head to North Woods in Sumner. Ten Wasp Brewing and Bremer County Conservation have teamed up to celebrate the longest day of the year with a guided summer solstice walk through the woods. All ages and abilities are welcome for the hike. The suggested donation is $5 per person, which will in turn be donated to His Hands Food Pantry in Sumner. After you are done with your hike, head over to Ten Wasps Brewing to grab a beverage. You’ll save $1 on your first pour. 

8. Summer Solstice Celebration

June 20, 2 to 7 p.m.

Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Toddville

Wickiup Hill Learning Center, just outside of Cedar Rapids, is inviting people to join them in celebrating the first day of summer and the longest day of the year at their summer solstice celebration. Planned for June 20th from 2 to 7 p.mThe event includes crafts, a story-walk, live animals, scavenger hunts, an evening campfire, and more. The center is staying open past normal hours to capture more evening fun. This event is open to all ages. Attendees can come and go as they are able. Plus it is free of charge and does not require registration. 

9. Summer Solstice 108 and Gong Bath

June 20, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Toula Yoga, Cedar Rapids

Another option for solstice yoga will take place at Toula Yoga in Cedar Rapids. This studio will celebrate the light of the longest day with 108 sun salutations (a solstice tradition around the world) as well as a gong bath. This has turned into an annual event for the yoga studio. Advanced registration is required. 

10. Summer Solstice Sunset Celebration

June 20, 8 to 9 p.m.

Hanging Rock Park, Redfield

Hanging Rock Park is another ideal place to spend some time on the summer solstice. There is an astronomical clock atop the ridge at Hanging Rock and you’ll join Dallas County Conservation naturalists to learn more about this natural summer phenomenon. The idea for the event was conceived of because the meaning of the word “solstice” is “sol”(sun) and “stice” (to stand still), and this event can create room for stillness in a busy summer. Plus, it’s a pretty spectacular place to take in the sunset. Registration is not required for this free event. 

11. Summer Solstice Saunter

June 20, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Cedar River Crossing, Solon

Johnson County Conservation is inviting people to join them in celebrating the solstice with a summer solstice saunter (great use of alliteration!) on the evening of the first day of summer. The event will be held near the astronomical clock at Cedar River Crossing and will include watching the sunset that evening. The walk amounts to about three miles round trip. Dogs are also welcome to attend but must stay on a leash. Advanced registration is required.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.How to celebrate the summer solstice in IowaHow to celebrate the summer solstice in Iowa

  • Katie Giorgio

    Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer, editor, and nonprofit professional living and working in her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She’s written for a wide variety of publications, including,, and U.S. News & World Report. 100 Things to Do in Cedar Rapids Before You Die, her first book came out in October 2022. Learn more at or follow her on Instagram at @ktmgiorgio.

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