Where To Go In May: 5 Places Where The Sun Never Sets

Where To Go In May | 5 Places Where The Sun Never Sets
Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

From Sweden to Greenland, here’s how to chase the mindnight sun in five countries celebrating the endless twilight.

This summer, choose  a destination that dreams are made of. Get off the beaten track. Think of places where days are eternal, where the sun throws its rays in magnificent hues of orange and pink in the dead of night, where fun and adventure are not constrained by time, where people truly embrace the season with sport, festivals, food, traditions and great merriment.

Yes! Think Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland or Greenland -the lands of the midnight sun, where nature and myth will give you an unforgettable experience. Let’s take a look at what happens in each of these countries in summer.


Midsummer in Norway lasts from late May to mid-July when the northern regions, particularly areas above the Arctic Circle such as Tromso and the Lofoten Islands, are bathed in the ethereal glow of the midnight sun. Imagine hiking through rugged landscapes or cruising along serene fjords, all under the warm embrace of perpetual daylight.

The Midsummer holiday here is known as Sankthansaften and is celebrated on June 23rd, which coincides with the Christian holiday of St. John’s Eve. Bonfires are a central part of the festivities, symbolizing the warding off of evil spirits and the celebration of the sun’s power. Communities gather around the bonfires to socialize, sing songs, and enjoy traditional foods like grilled sausages and marshmallows. In coastal areas, it’s also common to release small boats adorned with candles into the water, a practice known as ‘floating the wreath’  or flytekran’.

Each year, Tromso, often referred to as ‘Gateway to the Arctic’, hosts its annual ‘Midnight Sun Marathon,’ where participants run under the never-setting sun. Imagine that – 42km marathoner’s dream! There are festivals that include music concerts, art exhibitions, and outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, all bathed in the sun’s surreal soft glow. The Lofoten Islands too, host traditional celebrations  during this period, featuring local music, dance, and cuisine, providing locals and tourists with an authentic taste of Norwegian culture amidst stunning natural surroundings.


Photo: Shutterstock

Journey further east, and you’ll find yourself in Sweden, another Nordic gem blessed by the midnight sun. This is a time of joy and renewal for the Swedish people, with rituals dating back centuries that honour the sun’s life-giving energy and the abundance it brings to the land.

In destinations like Kiruna, nestled amidst Lapland’s pristine wilderness, visitors can partake in a myriad of activities from husky sledding and reindeer encounters to cultural experiences with the indigenous Sami people. Sweden celebrates its summer solstice with gusto offering a blend of adventure and tradition against the backdrop of endless daylight. The arrival of the late-night sun inspires locals to visit the great outdoors in unique ways such as lighting bonfires, dancing around maypoles, late night golfing, late night hikes, reindeer races and enjoying feasts with family and friends. There are storytelling sessions, folk music festivals, theatre performances, and art exhibitions that showcase the rich heritage of the region. The midnight sun serves as a backdrop for these gatherings, infusing them with a sense of magic and wonder that is unique to the Arctic summer.

Midsummer, or Midsommer as the Swedes call it, is one of the most beloved holidays typically held on the Friday closest to the summer solstice. . One of the most iconic rituals is the raising of the maypole, midsommarstang, adorned with flowers and greenery. People dance around the maypole, singing traditional songs and performing traditional folk dances like the frog dance and the little frogs’ dance. Midsummer feasts feature a variety of traditional dishes, including pickled herring, new potatoes, gravlax (cured salmon), and strawberry cake or jordgubbstarta. It’s also common for people to indulge in schnapps and traditional songs known as snapsvisor.


Photo: Shutterstock

Finland’s embrace of the midnight sun is not just a natural phenomenon but a cultural experience deeply intertwined with local folklore and traditions. Like their neighbours, the locals in Finnish Lapland celebrate in the great outdoors. Midsummer or Juhannus festivals are cherished annual events that highlight the resilience and spirit of these northern communities.

In towns like Rovaniemi, located on the Arctic Circle, festivities include cultural performances by Sámi artists, midnight bonfires (a ritual believed to ward off evil spirits and ensure a bountiful harvest), and like Sweden, raising of the maypole. Visitors can participate in outdoor activities such as  midnight kayaking, berry picking, and sauna rituals, all under the golden twilight. It is customary to decorate birch branches and place them outside homes and cottages as symbols of fertility and prosperity. Finnish cuisine takes centre stage at this time, with feasts often featuring local specialties grilled foods, such as makkara (sausage) and grilled salmon, as well as freshly-picked berries, new potatoes and sima (a traditional Finnish mead) being served in abundance.


Photo: Shutterstock

Here in Iceland, the midnight sun adds another layer of magic to the island’s rugged beauty, illuminating its dramatic landscapes of glaciers, volcanoes, and cascading waterfalls in a surreal glow.  The Midsummer holiday is celebrated as Sumardagurinn fyrsti, or the first day of summer, typically falling in late April or early May.

Travellers can embark on epic road trips along the Ring Road, soak in geothermal hot springs at the Blue Lagoon, or marvel at the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis during the brief twilight hours. In the capital city of Reykjavik, the ‘Secret Solstice Festival’ is a renowned event that coincides with the summer solstice, featuring live music performances by local and international artists against the backdrop of Iceland’s stunning panorama. Visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts, immersive art installations, and wellness activities such as yoga and hot spring bathing, all under the continuous daylight of the midnight sun. The festival’s unique setting and eclectic lineup make it a must-visit for music lovers and adventure seekers alike.


Photo: Shutterstock

In the world’s largest island, Greenland, the midnight sun reigns supreme in the Arctic wilderness. In towns such as Ilulissat and Nuuk, visitors can witness the sun’s mesmerizing dance across the horizon, painting the icy landscapes with hues of pink and gold. From iceberg cruises to cultural encounters with the Inuit people, Greenland offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the far reaches of the Arctic under the eternal daylight of summer.

The people of Greenland celebrate the summer solstice, known as Ullortuneq in the Greenlandic language, with a combination of traditional rituals, cultural festivities, and outdoor activities. The summer solstice holds great significance in Greenland as it marks the longest day of the year and the arrival of the midnight sun.

The towns of Ilulissat and Nuuk showcase Greenlandic Inuit culture through drum dancing, storytelling, and demonstrations of traditional crafts, bonfires and camping.  Visitors can join boat tours to witness the spectacular sight of icebergs bathed in the golden light of the midnight sun or participate in guided hikes to explore the rugged terrain of Greenland’s wilderness. Local cuisine, featuring dishes like seal stew, smoked fish and home-made schnapps, is an integral part of these festivals, offering a taste of Greenlandic culinary traditions amidst the Arctic summer splendour.

Whichever country you choose, the phenomenon of the midnight sun is not merely a spectacle of nature but a transformative experience of a lifetime that transcends ordinary travel.

Ready to change your summer plans?

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