Milton Keynes to hold its first ever Midsummer Festival to celebrate summer solstice next month

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It’s a magical, family-friendly event

A special family-friendly Midsummer Festival is the be held for the first time to celebrate the summer solstice next monht,

Milton Keynes City Council has organised the event with a fun-packed free programme of music, maypoles, magic and more.

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Famously, Midsummer Boulevard is aligned with the path of the sun at summer solstice, which in traditional folklore is celebrated on the night of Sunday 23 June.

Last year's summer solstice sunrise captured on drone by Milton Keynes photographer Kingsley SummersLast year's summer solstice sunrise captured on drone by Milton Keynes photographer Kingsley Summers
Last year's summer solstice sunrise captured on drone by Milton Keynes photographer Kingsley Summers

Throughout the day, from 10am to 10.30pm, Midsummer Boulevard East will be transformed into festival central for a free event inspired by traditional midsummer themes of renewal, healing, and health.

Music, street theatre, and folklore-inspired art will take place alongside free making workshops. Fantastic pop-up street food curated by Sophie etc will be available throughout the day and into the evening. The event ends with a parade to the Light Pyramid in Campbell Park.

During the free festival, Midsummer Boulevard East will be closed to traffic to allow festival goers and event production teams to use the site safely. Road closure signs will be in place to redirect motorists, and buses that usually drop off and pick up on Midsummer Boulevard East will instead do so outside The Point on Lower Tenth Street.

The festival highlights will include:

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Wild Rumpus, who produce immersive worlds that take audiences into magical and enchanting places, will transform the Boulevard into an inspiring space celebrating the natural world

In Ghost Caribou from Thingumajig Theatre, giant illuminated mystical creatures will roam with a wild herdsperson. As they gather a crowd, they’ll perform other-worldly ceremonies filled with music, song, and shadow puppets.

Hip Hop maypole mavericks Folk Dance Remixed will perform their genre-breaking mix of maypole, clogging, breakdance and more.

People can make their own suncatcher, design their own tarot card and taste the delights of locally foraged Solst-iced Drinks in the wellness workshop tent.

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Three MK based artists will take over Porte Cocheres for improvised music and dance in response to sunlight and shadow; as a nest for large magpie puppets roaming the site; and for an immersive artwork which tracks the movement of the sun.

A very special ‘fire-jumping’ competition (traditionally those who make it across will enjoy good health throughout the year) where our ‘fire pit’ features papier mache logs and hand-painted flames built by the audience using recycled materials.

A music tent with contemporary folk acts Stick in the Wheel, Benedict Drew and Arianne Churchman, summer tunes, and - as the sun goes down - experimental music before an atmospheric spoken word performance.

Find the full programme and approximate timings alongside details of the temporary changes to bus stops here.

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The summer solstice marks the date of the longest period of daylight and the shortest night of the year, when the north pole has its maximum tilt towards the sun.

MK is famed for its connections with the summer solstice as Midsummer Boulevard in CMK was built to be perfectly aligned with the rising sun on that day.

MKDC architects in the 1970s found the precise coordinates required and persuaded engineers to shift the urban grid a few degrees to make it happen.

The sun rises precisely at one end of Midsummer Boulevard on the solstice - just like a modern Stonehenge.

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