June 20 is the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (Credit: Jill Clardy/ Flickr/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

On June 20, 2024, Northern Hemisphere residents will celebrate the first official day of summer. Also known as the June solstice, it is the day when the North Pole is most tilted toward the Sun. As a result, the Northern Hemisphere will enjoy its longest day of 2024. Conversely, those in the Southern Hemisphere will mark the start of winter with the year's shortest day.

Solstice celebrations can last all day. But the solstice occurs at the moment when the Sun is farthest north from the equator. In 2024, this will be at 4:51 PM EDT (1:51 PM PST). All countries in the Northern Hemisphere will enjoy at least 12 hours of daylight on June 20. But those closer to the North Pole will get a lot more. New York City residents will bask in over 15 hours of sunshine. Those in London, UK, will enjoy over 18 hours. Sweden's capital Stockholm, will experience 21 hours of light. In some areas of Northern Norway, the Sun will not set for several days!

The June solstice occurs when the Sun is farthest north in the sky (Credit: Tau Ľolunga/ Public Domain)

The June solstice is marked worldwide with many exciting events. One of the oldest celebrations takes place at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. Thousands of people visit the prehistoric monument every year at dawn to witness the rising Sun.

Japan's ‚ÄúCandle Night‚ÄĚ puts a modern-day twist on the event. The eco-friendly celebration urges residents to turn off all lights and electronics from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM on the evening of the solstice.

June solstice "Candle Night" celebration in Japan (Credit: visitmatsumoto.com/ CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Sweden's Midsummer festival is observed with family gatherings and traditional dances. The most popular is the frog dance. It involves hopping around a 20-foot (6-m) pole while singing a classic Swedish song. Iceland celebrates the occasion with a three-day-long Secret Solstice Festival. It features music and dance performances by artists from around the world.

In Alaska, the June solstice is celebrated over many days with numerous events. The most unique is the Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks. This fun tradition dates back to 1906 and involves playing baseball in the middle of the night without using artificial light.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Resources: Businessinsider.com, explorefairbanks.com, almanac.com, wikipedia.org