9 Seasonal Events and Festivals to Connect with Nature in the UK

Over the last few generations, British culture has fallen out of touch with the seasons, causing our connection with nature to falter

With our shop shelves filled with global produce, harvest time has lost its value... And with bouquets of greenhouse-grown flowers on offer year-round, the first flowers of Spring may seem less special

Related Read | How Nature, Wellbeing and Pro-Environmentalism are Entwined

A hand reaches out to touch a sprig of cherry blossom.

But there was once a time in the UK when we lived our lives strictly by the seasons. With celestial events like the summer solstice and autumn equinox marking a poignant time in the cycle of the year in Gaelic, Celtic and Pagan culture. And also a time not so long ago, when farming and harvests were a crucial part of the year.


Re-acknowledging some (or all!) of these old seasonal traditions can help us reconnect with the natural rhythm of the year — plus who doesn’t love a good excuse to throw a party or bang pots and pans about in the chilly January air

Bringing these traditions into family life can also help to keep older children connected with nature too. With research showing that young people's connection to nature falls away sharply from age 7, this has never been more important.

Related Read | How to Keep Older Children Connected to Nature


Seasonal events to connect with nature

To help you reconnect with nature this year, here are 9 seasonal festivals and events to get involved with here in the UK, and how to celebrate them!


1. The Apple Wassail - January

In early January, centuries ago, orchards in the South of England were once filled with the sound of singing

Offerings of cider-soaked toast were laid in apple tree branches, cider was poured on their roots and local people filled orchards with folk tunes, shouting, and pot banging to scare away bad spirits and bless the apple trees for a good harvest.

How to celebrate an apple wassail

This ancient tradition is being revived around the UK, and on or around the 17th of January, you can still take part in a lively apple wassail at farms and orchards across the Southwest.

It’s a great excuse to get outside into the chilly January air and appreciate nature and local produce. Usual activities include gathering around a fire, sipping hot cider or apple juice, and singing. Also bringing your own pots and pans is often encouraged!

A woman walking through an orchard on a winters day. 


2. Imbolc - February

Traditionally celebrated on the 1st of February, Imbolc is an ancient Pagan festival related to the goddess Brigid. It falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and was seen as a time to reflect on the coming harvest season and celebrate the lighter days and signs of Spring.

How to celebrate Imbolc

Many people light candles or head out on a wintry walk to spot the first signs of Spring emerging — like lambs or snowdrops! It’s a great way to get in tune with nature and watch the shift between seasons.

Related Read | Why is Nature So Important to Happiness?

Snow drops in late February sunlight.


3. Spring Equinox - March

The Spring Equinox is an astronomical event where the sun sits directly over the equator. It usually falls on the 21st or 22nd March, and since ancient times, it's a day that has been associated with renewal and life, and celebrated as the start of the growing season!

How to celebrate the Spring Equinox

Plant seeds, literally and figuratively! It’s a great time to start growing veggies or make positive plans for the rest of the year. Many people also use it as a day to ‘spring clean’!

Growing seedlings. A great way to celebrate the Spring Equinox. 


4. Beltane - May

Celebrated on the 1st of May, Beltane (or May Day!) is an ancient Gaelic festival that celebrates the returning sun. It also marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice! Bonfires were often lit and the smoke and ashes were believed to have protective qualities...

How to celebrate Beltane

Beltane celebrations often involve bonfires and maypole dancing but more modern traditions include lighting candles, gathering wildflowers and branches to bring displays of nature inside, or decorating a garden tree with ribbons, shells and flowers!

Tulips, fairy lights and candles arranged on a windowsill.


5. Summer Solstice - June

The Summer Solstice is an astronomical event where the earth is at its maximum tilt towards the sun — creating the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere!

Fire played a big role in ancient Summer Solstice celebrations, large bonfires were lit as it was believed it would boost the sun's power and ensure a good harvest. This is also the day when the sun aligns perfectly with stone henge! Depending on the year it will fall on either the 20th or 21st of June.

How to celebrate the Summer Solstice

If a bonfire is too much for your garden to handle lighting candles in the evening as a visual reminder of the sun is a lovely way to mark the Summer Solstice. Many people also watch the sunrise and sunset.

A summer sunset in Brighton in the South of England.


6. Harvest Festivals - September

For as long as we have been farming, harvest time has been an important part of life, and across the UK a harvest festival was a special time to celebrate and give thanks for a successful harvest.

With shop shelves filled with global produce, the importance of our local harvests has been lost. But re-acknowledging this important time of year is a great way to get back in tune with the seasons!

How to celebrate at harvest time

In September, near the harvest moon, make plans to throw a party and share a meal with family and friends using only seasonal produce. Visit a local harvest festival. And simply use it as a time to give thanks for the food our farmers grow, but also for the love of family and friends.

Stalls at a harvest festival in the UK.


7. Autumn Equinox - September

Usually falling on the 22nd or 23rd of September, the Autumn Equinox is another astronomical event that marks the moment when our sun sits directly above the equator causing day and night to be equal. Our ancestors recognised this day as a time to reflect on the past year, give thanks for the light of summer and prepare for the winter ahead.

How to celebrate the Autumn Equinox

As the weather begins to turn, a great way to celebrate the Autumn Equinox is to head outdoors for a walk and observe the changing seasons. You could create an autumnal altar indoors with candles and branches collected from outside, and hold an autumnal feast of seasonal produce with family and friends.

 Autumnal walk in the woods for the Autumn Equinox


8. Samhain - October/November

Samhain is an ancient Celtic festival that marked the end of the harvest season and also celebrated ancestors. With the natural dormancy of trees and the dying back of vegetation in winter, the belief was that the link between this life and the otherworld was at its thinnest...

While it may sound slightly spooky, Samhain was a time when families could fondly remember loved ones, with many families even setting a place at the table for them. Usually observed from sunset on Oct 31st to sunset on Nov 1st, this ancient festival paved the way for what is now celebrated as Halloween!

How to celebrate Samhain

Aside from all the usual fun Halloween shenanigans. Samhain can be used as a time to reflect on how precious nature and life are. To mark the day, you could visit a natural place that reminds you of a loved one, or create a small display of natural objects and light a candle.

3 column candles surrounded by winter squashes, pine cones and heather.


9. Winter Solstice - December

Celebrated on the 21st or 22nd of December, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year — it’ll get brighter from now on! It’s a celestial event that marks the moment when the earth is tilted at its furthest point away from the sun.

Fires and feasts were a large part of Winter Solstice celebrations, with a large yule log usually lit and burned for up to 12 days to chase away evil spirits and celebrate the return of the sun with warmth and light. Mistletoe was also cut and placed above doorways for protection.

How to celebrate the Winter Solstice

Light up the night with candles or by placing your own yule log in the fireplace. You could also head outdoors to collect holly, pine, and spruce to make a wreath. Or simply bring some mistletoe inside! Mistletoe has long been seen as a plant of kindness and warmth. And of course, celebrating the return of the sun would be incomplete without a feast shared with family and friends!

Pine cones and pine greenery surrounding a candle.


Whether you use candles, feasts or fires, adding these seasonal festivals to your calendar is a great way to keep in tune with the seasons and deepen your connection with nature.

Related Read | 8 Nature-Filled Family Day Out Ideas in the UK

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