The longest day of the year – 20th June – is nearly upon us. Also known as the summer solstice, this marks the first day of astronomical summer. However, it’s more common to use meteorological definitions of seasons, so the June solstice actually falls midsummer.

The date still holds special significance, because it’s a time to acknowledge the change in seasons. Pagan rituals are central to summer solstice celebrations with thousands of people gathering every year at ancient religious sites like Stonehenge and Avebury to watch the sun rise.

Even though we don’t have any megalithic structures here in Shakespeare’s England, you can still take part in one of the special midsummer events taking place in and around Warwickshire.

This Saturday you can enjoy an evening of musical midsummer magic as Hill Close Gardens in Warwick hosts Midsummer Jazz in the Gardens. Start the evening off with a picnic and then explore the historic restored gardens, before being entertained by the Roy Forbes Jazz Quintet – with echoes of Ray Charles and Nat King Cole.

The following weekend sees two days of Midsummer Madness over at Mary Arden’s Farm, in Wilmcote. Here you can watch the Tudors as they celebrate the longest day of the year. There’ll be plenty of magic and merriment, fairies and frolics, music and dance. With the chance to learn circus skills from our Tudor fool or catch a puppet show, there’s plenty of fun for all the family.

Continuing with the Midsummer theme, you can watch a very special performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Running from 15th June to 16th July, this unique production is performed as never before – magically intertwining professional and amateur actors.

Whichever one of these you pick, hopefully it will help take your mind off the fact that the days will start getting shorter again!

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