The European summer of 2003 was exceptionally warm, and there is evidence that human influence has at least doubled the risk of such a hot summer. It is possible that by the 2040s, summers over southern Europe will be as warm or warmer 50% of the time. Because of the related socioeconomic impacts, there is growing interest in investigating changes in climate extremes across the world and how they may change in the future. We examine observed and simulated summer temperatures over a set of regions covering the Northern Hemisphere. Simulated changes are consistent with observed changes over the vast majority of regions when the climate simulation includes changes in anthropogenic and natural influences. We detect the dominant influence of anthropogenic factors on observed warming in almost every region, which has led to a rapidly increasing risk of hot summers. We show that hot summers which were infrequent 20–40 years ago are now much more common and that our projections indicate that the current sharp rise in incidence of hot summers is likely to continue.