Spend the longest day of the year enjoying Philly parks

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Although the weather has been heating up significantly in the city, the official start of summer is actually this weekend. On Sunday, June 20, the summer solstice will be in full swing, and Philadelphians can spend the longest day of the year in Fairmount Park from sunup to sundown. 

The summer solstice is the longest day each year for those in the Northern Hemisphere because the North Pole is tilted towards the Sun, and the South Pole is tilted away from it—but on a more tangible note, the day is also the first of the official summer season. 

For this day in particular, the neighborhood park program, which oversees the 10,200 acres that include Fairmount Park and more than 100 neighborhood parks around the city, will be hosting a full slate of activities so that Philadelphians can take advantage of every second of the long day. 

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Before the sun even comes up, Philadelphians can head to start the summer solstice right with a sunrise hike led by Brad Maule (5:30 to 8 a.m.) Those who join Fairmount Park Conservancy on the Belmont Plateau will be just in time to watch the sun rise over the city skyline, and then head on a morning loop hike through West Park at Meadows and Trolley Trail. 

Starting out on the right note continues that morning as well. If you can’t quite make it up at the crack of dawn for the hike, those who are looking to indulge in a healthy way can also check out a yoga class on the plateau from 9 to 11 a.m. Participants can stretch it out on the picturesque vista of the Belmont Plateau for a special 90-minute solstice-themed class that integrates sun salutations and other poses intended to welcome and honor the longest day of the summer.

Later in the day marks a celebration fit for two holidays: According to the release, Philadelphians can celebrate Father’s Day and the summer solstice with a special guided kayak tour of the river, followed by a festive picnic at the Schuylkill Banks Park. Boxed dinners (which includes sandwiches and sides) will be provided by Joshua‘s catering and a choice of 2 drinks (beer or hard cider) courtesy of Wyndridge Farms.

Lastly, there will be one last event to learn about the healing power of labyrinths. Led by Athena Dugan, the Philadelphia representative of the International Labyrinth Society, this unique workshop will teach the history and techniques of labyrinth making. During this special class, attendees will work together to make and walk an actual labyrinth in the grass.

That’s just one day as well. There is plenty more to check out at the city-side park run by Fairmount Conservancy and beyond. 

“Philly parks have always been there for us, offering space to seek solace or enjoy each other’s company,” said Maura McCarthy, Ph.D., Executive Director of Fairmount Park Conservancy in a statement. “This summer, Fairmount Park Conservancy wants to encourage Philadelphians to choose their own adventure in their park, whether it’s by exploring Fairmount Park with the family on a scavenger hunt or by appreciating art in the park at the Hatfield House.”

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In the Fairmount Park alone, park-goers can start or end their exploration of various trails, natural areas, and historic structures at one of their six historic mansions, plus check out kayak tours, moonlit walks, hikes, and much more. For those who are still waiting out the pandemic as well, there are also digital excursions to peruse. A full list of slated programs is available online. 

For more information on Fairmount Park Conservancy, visit myphillypark.org

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