With Australia's hot, decidedly un-snowy Christmases, the Winter Solstice is everything I could hope for in a holiday. The solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice a year, when the sun reaches the highest place in the sky as seen from the North or the South Pole. That means that during summer the day of the solstice is the longest day of the year and during winter the day of the solstice is the shortest day of the year. While the solstices probably had more meaning to people back in agrarian times when life was more greatly impacted by the seasons, modern day Melbourne still finds a plethora of ways to celebrate them. For the Winter Solstice this often means roaring bonfires or other fire-based entertainment, steaming or spiced drinks, and a celebration of nature.
Winter Solstice Bonfire at Collingwood Children's Farm
The Winter Solstice Bonfire at Collingwood Children's Farm is an excellent family event. This year it will be taking place on Saturday 18th June, from 4.30 - 8.30pm (the bonfire will be lit at 6.15). Attractions will include a wandering minstrel, giant lanterns, food stalls, mulled wine and a bar, and drummers and fire twirlers.
Entry: family $24, adult $12, child $5. Concession available.
Click here to buy tickets or here for the Farm's website with more information.
Winter Solstice Festival at Matcham's Paddock, Eltham
Traditionally Eltham's solstice celebrations have been held at the artist's colony Monsalvat, but they are boasting a new venue that looks better than ever. This event will feature live music, delicious food, a children's lantern parade, fire entertainers, and of course, a huge bonfire! It will be held on the 18th of June from 3 - 10pm.
Entry: family $55, adult $20, child $12. Concession available.
Click here to buy tickets or here for the event's website.
Belgrave's Lantern Parade is another well known and much loved event. Held on Saturday the 18th of June from 4pm, Belgrave celebrates the solstice with marvelous lanterns of all shapes and sizes (last time I went I even spotted a TARDIS lantern). If you are interested the event's website details some workshops you can attend ahead of time for lantern making; there are tips on the website as well. The parade is completely free and features dancing and other entertainment, including a children's parade.
CERES Community Environment Park is good fun on a regular day, but its solstice event, Beautiful Darkness, should be even better. The event includes food and mulled wine, a ceremonial fire, lantern making, crafts, live music and performances. It will be held on Saturday 25th June and goes from 4.30 - 8.30pm.
Entry: family $40, adult $18, child (5-15) $5.
Click here to buy tickets or here for the website with more information.
Beautiful Darkness will be held at the Village Green and Village Pavillion at CERES Environmental Park - Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East.
If you are seeking something a bit cozier, the Winter Solstice chanting and meditation event offers singing, dancing, and moving to celebrate the blessings of winter. Gifted musicians will accompany Jarek Czechowicz in leading memorable chants from a diverse blend of cultures and traditions. Everybody brings a vegetarian supper snack to share, and there is aromatic chai provided free as well. Yum! People are also welcome to bring their own lantern. The event runs from 7 - 10.30pm on Saturday 18th June.
Tickets are available here and you can find the event website with more information here.
The event will be held at Augustine Centre, 2 Minona St, Hawthorn.
Solstice Celebration at Federation Square
And of course this list wouldn't be complete without something central to the city. Federation Square will be hosting a free event with lights, music, dancing, and culinary delights beginning at 6pm on Saturday the 18th June.
The Light in Winter's Indigenous Campfire also continues as part of a wider winter celebration.
More information on the Federation Square events are available here.