The summer solstice is one of mankind’s most ancient and universally recognized holidays. Noontime on the longest day of the year marks the highest the sun will rise in the sky all year round. Every day that follows the solstice is progressively shorter, and the sun grows progressively lazier, until reaching its low point in December. For Islanders, the solstice marks the end of late spring’s easy charms, and the beginning of the summer hustle. For some seasonal residents, it represents the start of a new job; for others, a break from work.
The actual solstice is on Sunday, but Saturday is filled with opportunities for celebration. For those who want to cram in the most fun possible before the days begin their long, slow wane, the following guide may be helpful.
Begin your day with a hearty and nutritious breakfast, such as muesli and a hardboiled egg, and then head out along sun-dappled Middle road in Chilmark to the Yard for their eponymous Yard Sale at 9 a.m. Vendors from around the Island will be selling all manner of doodads, geegaws and knickknacks at the celebrated dance colony throughout the day, and a kids’ creative theatre open house at 10 a.m. and noon, as well as 15-minute dance performances at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Little ones who find haggling over eggbeaters a tiresome prospect may want to adjourn to the nearby Chilmark Community Church Children’s Fair at 10 a.m., where pony rides, face-painting and games are to be had.
After mom and dad have scoured the tables at the Yard sale and junior has had his fill of beanbag toss, the sun will have risen to its zenith and so will have appetites. So head back to West Tisbury, top off the tank at Up Island Automotive (you’ll need it) and make a beeline to Edgartown to the Morning Glory Farm June Festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to fill up on fresh food, ride more ponies, get the wiggles out to some live music and a walking tour of the farm, and pick up a signed copy of Morning Glory Farm and the Family that Feeds an Island, a new book that looks back on 30 years of Morning Glory produce.
Sated, climb back in the car and head downtown to Main street Edgartown, take a left and take a trip up Beach Road. Adventurous clans might want to stop for a brief State Beach swim before entering Oak Bluffs, where the Harbor Festival should be in full swing. More live music, more food, and myriad activities, arts and crafts are interspersed with vendors selling everything under the now-sinking sun.
After taking in the sights and smells of the harbor, it should be time for a respite, so head back up-Island to the Polly Hill Arboretum on State Road in West Tisbury for the Summer Solstice Celebration there, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Park at the Agricultural Hall and take the free shuttle to the cool glades of the arboretum, where the flora offer shade and sweet smells, while the Arboretum staff offers music, dance, puppet theatre, storytelling and more. A scavenger hunt will keep the children occupied while parents catch their breath and prepare for the next movement . . .
Back to Oak Bluffs! At 5 p.m., Circuit avenue will be closed to vehicles and the colorful main drag is transformed into a promenade, complete with strolling musicians and alfresco dining, for the town’s own solstice celebration. Grab a meal and some ice cream, and take a stroll over to Ocean Park to watch the fireworks, which begin at dark.
While this may sound like a lot of fun, remember that staying this busy requires preparation. Sunscreen is a must, as is staying well hydrated. Be courteous while driving, be patient with crowds, and always say please and thank you.
— Cooper Davis