If you've never participated in a celebration of the winter solstice or the summer solstice, you could be missing out on a meaningful — and fun — experience. At the Great Serpent Mound in southwestern Ohio, visitors and locals come to mark the summer solstice with an annual celebration.
The Ohio History Connection runs a number of events at the Serpent Mound site, including a Summer Solstice Celebration that takes place over several days including the official summer solstice. What does this festival honor, and how can people attend?
What is the Great Serpent Mound?
As Ohio History Connection explains, the Great Serpent Mound is a National Historic Landmark in Ohio. Ancient Indigenous cultures built this effigy mound in the shape of an animal — a serpent, as the name indicates — that curves across the landscape.
Also in the vicinity are three burial mounds. Two of those mounds came from the Adena culture between 800 B.C. and A.D. 100. The other is from the Fort Ancient culture between A.D. 1000 and 1650.
Here's a bit of background on the summer solstice.
Most of us know that the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, while the winter solstice is the shortest day (by daylight hours). National Geographic notes that solstices are due to the tilt of the Earth's axis of rotation, which guides the changing of seasons. Cultures around the world have celebrated solstices in various ways for millennia.
Serpent Mound has a summer solstice celebration.
At Serpent Mound in Ohio, there is an annual summer solstice festival that lasts for several days. Friends of Serpent Mound (FOSM) is the organization that started the event to highlight the region's history and ecology, especially the history and significance of Serpent Mound itself. If the official summer solstice does not fall on the weekend, the festival will occur on the nearest weekend to that date.
The Serpent Mound summer solstice celebration can include presentations from locals, historians, Indigenous people, scientists, spiritualists, and more. There are also musical acts that perform, canoe tours near the mound, community drumming circles, and other activities relevant to the area's rich history.
If you happen to be in the area in late June for the Serpent Mound summer solstice, you'll be glad to know that admission is free. Children are welcome (it's a family-friendly festival), and even leashed dogs are allowed.
Can you visit Serpent Mound at other times of the year?
Yes, Serpent Mound is open on certain dates year-round. Although the summer solstice festival is free to attend, if you're visiting Serpent Mound on other occasions, there is an $8 parking fee per vehicle. Although hours can vary, the mound is typically open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.
Visitors can also take a guided archaeology tour on the second Friday of each month. Archaeologist Bill Kennedy from the Ohio History Connection provides these tours, which last 1.5 hours, and teaches about Indigenous peoples in Ohio as well as the Great Serpent Mound.