Summer and Winter Solstice on the Minnesota's North Shore

By Aliya Marxen

"Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass."  William Shakespeare
There is something magical about walking the same steps our ancestors did for centuries yet there is something even more magical about walking these steps when your steps are walked in relation to a celebration such as the Summer or Winter solstice. 


Anticipated Solstices Along Our North Shore

For hundreds of years, people of all religions have been coming together to honor the path of the sun, celebrate the coming or departure of the sun, and most of all, celebrate the event. From the Celtics to the Native Americans to the Christians of ancient times, people from all walks of life celebrated the two annual solstices. We are no different in Grand Marais, and I don’t believe I would be exaggerating to say the Solstice along our North Shore of Lake Superior are some of the most anticipated events of the year.

We’re lucky enough to have the North House Folk School hosting both events. The North House is nestled on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais which makes it the perfect place to celebrate the coming and going of seasons. In the summer, the night is warm and the air is filled with the scents of fresh grass and the sounds of seagulls. In the winter, a chill fills the air, the lake crashes upon the shore and everyone huddles around the hot chocolate. Both Summer and Winter, the Solstice celebrations are also nestled in town, within walking distance of other fun activities and restaurants while waiting for the evening. No matter the season, the solstice festivals are a celebration to enjoy. 

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is by far the biggest event. Taking place in June, everyone is glad to herald the oncoming of true summer. Workshops and courses are many, and festivities last all weekend! The Wooden Boat festival also takes place at this time, where novice, professional, and artisan boat builders bring their wares to display. My personal favorite part of the festivities is the Lake Superior Chowder. Over a dozen different chowders supplied by the multitalented restaurants in the area? Yes please!


It’s also Summer Solstice tradition to go see an astounding performance by the Good Harbor Hill Players. Featuring children of the community who tower on stilts I would be remiss to try and balance on, the puppet show is an intricate affair that is a favorite of everyone. The show is preformed right by the lake, in the tradition of theater practices of old. The scent of the lake and the cry of the gulls are almost as much a part of the show as the actors themselves! This year featured a delightful tale about a Granny who beckons the wind the change the seasons, and takes care of a naughty bear who gets into her maple syrup.

Winter Solstice 

Though the Winter Solstice is less attended by people from outside the area, it is no less magical. Sivertson Gallery in downtown Grand Marais is hosting a Solstice Party, after which the crowd moves to the North House Folk School on the shore. There everyone enjoys hot chocolate, a bonfire into which one can through their “gloomies”, or dolls representing the negative weight we carry with us, and watch the much anticipated shadow puppet show. Once again preformed by the Good Harbor Hill Players, the mystical performance is one looked forward to by children and adults alike.

Even Shakespeare knew of the importance of the Solstices, the summer holiday taking center stage in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Today we still honor the same traditions, our village of a town coming together to celebrate the coming and going of seasons. Join us some time, and see for yourself exactly what is so special about this beautiful place we call home, during one of the most magical times of year.

Accommodations – Rental Homes and Condos

While most vacationers to our North Shore communities occur in the warmer months, people visit our area to enjoy winter activities too, and for them they have a wide selection of  vacation homes and vacation condos along the shores of Lake Superior. Let our family business help you select an affordable vacation rental near all solstice celebrations. Enjoy! 

The June solstice is known as the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice the southern hemisphere. The dates vary between June 20 and June 22 in Summer, and near December 2 in Winter. Both solstices have been celebrated throughout history.