A dramatic sunset at StonehengeGetty

This weekend marks the annual summer solstice, bringing extended daylight hours and the beginning of summer.

Saturday 21 June, the longest day of the year is celebrated worldwide, as in ancient times solstices and equinoxes helped civilisations to understand the seasons and the weather.

Although the solstice and midsummer period was usually celebrated by Pagans commemorating the fertility of the season, its associations with life and nature are now celebrated by many cultures and religions.

IBTimes UK looks at how you can get involved with summer solstice celebrations:

Welcome summer at an event

summer solstice
Enthusiasts perform yoga in Times Square, New York, during an event marking the summer solsticeGetty

Every year, thousands of revellers flock to Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire and UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrate the summer solstice.

This year, English Heritage will allow open access to Stonehenge on 20 to 21 June, to mark the occasion. Parking and entry to the monument will be free at certain times, which are on the website. Visitors are advised to travel to the area using public transport.

There are events across the world, including at the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration, in the US, the Downtown Festival in Alaska's Anchorage, Wianki in Krakow, Poland, and other cities.

Watch the sunrise or sunset

Revellers gather as they enjoy the sunrise during the winter solstice at Stonehenge.
Revellers gather to enjoy the sunrise during the winter solstice at Stonehenge 2013Reuters

In London, UK, the sun will rise at 04.43 and set at 21:21 on the summer solstice, giving us 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

In Washington DC, the sunrise will be 05:43 and sunset at 20:37 on 21 June, while in San Francisco, California, it will be 05:48 and at 20:35.

Build a bonfire

Summer solstice fire
People wearing national dress burn herbs on a fire during Midsummer celebrations in Kernave, LithuaniaGetty

Many summer solstice traditions include bonfires, originally a pagan custom, although it has been adopted by Christian denominations to celebrate Saint John's Day. In Greece, men leap over the flames, while in Bulgaria, a barefoot dance on hot embers called Nestinarstvo is performed.

Get into costume

Summer solstice costume
A reveller stands in front of StonehengeGetty

Some solstice celebrations involve getting into costume for the day. Druids at Stonehenge don white robes, while other countries put on traditional costumes and perform elaborate dances.

Janto Marzuk, an Indonesian native who fell in love with the summer solstice after relocating to Sweden, told CNN that the celebrations are taken seriously in the country.

"The celebration begins with a procession of men and women who are dressed up with their beautiful traditional clothes," he said.

Have a barbecue

South Africa has celebrated National Barbecue Day
The summer solstice is celebrated with feastsReuters

Many cultures celebrate the birthday of St John the Baptist, which is believed to coincide with the summer solstice, with food and drink so why not join in with your own barbecue?