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Choosing where to holiday in June can be tricky. Not only is Europe now warming up, but destinations further afield also have plenty to offer. Some of Europe’s best festivities take place in the north, celebrating the midnight sun. Countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden experience days on end where the sun doesn’t set. Celebrations marking the summer solstice on 21 June come in the form of toasts, bonfires, saunas and any daytime activity you can think of – at any time of night. June is also a great time to visit Ladakh in India, where the Hemis festival is celebrated with colourful costumes and traditional music. Meanwhile in Africa, the dramatic and spectacular river crossings of the wildebeest migration can be viewed in the western area of the Serengeti.
One of the best times to track mountain gorillas is in June as the weather is cooler, drier and the tourist crowds have not yet arrived for peak season. It’s also when Kwita Izina is held – the gorilla naming ceremony – which is usually attended by the prime minister of Rwanda, important members of the Rwandan community and the park rangers. Kwita Izina is a way of monitoring the birth rates year by year and is also held to bring attention to the importance of gorilla conservation. Thankfully, tourists are more than welcome to attend the ceremony as well.
June is the dry season, where days tend to be sunny and warm, making it a great time to visit Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley. One of the main attractions in June is the theatrical Inti Raymi festival in Cusco. For nine days there are banquets, street celebrations and traditional Peruvian music is played. The main procession begins at the Sun Temple and proceeds through the streets to the Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman. With the king and queen present in lavish, colourful costumes, an ancient Incan ceremony is re-enacted to honour the Sun God, complete with a pretend sacrifice.
During the summer, St Petersburg experiences days of long sunshine, some days the sun does not set at all. These Belye Nochi – White Nights – are celebrated with the Scarlet Sails water show and fireworks on the Neva river. During these celebrations, St Petersburg’s museums, including the Hermitage, offer free entry late into the night as well as putting on special workshops and author tours. The Mariinsky Theatre also features daily performances of ballet, classical music and opera. Though, the best part of White Nights may be wandering the warm, luminous streets at 2am with an ice-cream in hand.