The Legendary Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebration. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

6 04 2021

The summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that happens every year. Unless you are lucky enough to live close by for many of the thousands of sun-worshipping pilgrims who flock to the unique UNESCO World Heritage monument, it really is a bona fide top grade ‘bucket list’ experience, up there with visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza, Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Taj Mahal, or Machu Piccu – for Stonehenge is indubitably one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

Once seen up-close-and-personal, which is only possible at the solstices and equinoxes (excluding pandemics and other acts of god), unless a private access tour is booked, the stones are never forgotten. Visitors who make a special effort to visit Stonehenge specifically at the time of the summer or winter solstices will experience something perhaps indistinguishable to the Neolithic affect intended by its architects and priesthood over the 1500 years of its construction (3100-1600 BCE) and primary usage – for the 75 interlocking sarsen stones, and (approximately) 80 blue stones are, among other things, a gigantic solstice engine: designed to be a place to not only precisely observe the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset, but a place activated by this vast celestial drama.

If there could said to be a single ‘Stonehenge code’ that unlocks its mysteries it is the giant solar key that turns in its Neolithic lock twice a year. And it is this grand spectacle, aligning self-reflective carbon-based bipeds with the near miraculous nuclear fusion of the life-sustaining sun, which draws the hordes from across the globe. When witnessed, it is a moment of primal power – a universal leveller that connects all who gather in an instant international fellowship of life-affirming light.

The energy released by the summer solstice sunrise is a visceral whoop of joy: a universal ‘Yes!’ that makes those holding vigil erupt spontaneously into cheering, chanting, hugging, and dancing. It is a beautiful moment that cuts through all barriers, and the party that often builds throughout the preceding night really erupts at this point – but it is one without alcohol or drugs. For even if such things were not firmly forbidden by English Heritage (and bags are scrupulously checked before entry), they are really not needed in the natural euphoria of the moment.

The family-friendly atmosphere is warm-hearted and infectious – one can simply wander amid the stones and revellers enjoying the vibes; join in a druidic ceremony; witness a handfasting (a pagan wedding), knighting (performed by no less than King Arthur Pendragon), or a barding in the gorsedd bardic circle that traditionally follows the dawn druid ceremony. One can dance with wild abandon to a drumming circle, or join in yourself if you bring along a percussive instrument – but be warned, for suddenly you can find yourself shaking your feathers next to a unicorn, dragon, green man, or fairy! If you prefer you can meditate by a stone, imbibing the energy lines that have been tangibly dowsed around the temple – a nexus for many mysterious forces, both visible and invisible.

Open your eyes for a moment and don’t be alarmed to see a Great Bustard waddle by (the magnificent Gertrude, who returns annually); the cast of Hair the Musical; or a concertina-playing Christmas tree. The atmosphere is unique and can perhaps be epitomized as Woodstock remixed through the British Counter Culture: the pixie-punks of the anarcho-traveller Peace Convoy meet the refugees of the Summers of Love (’67; ’88-89), blended with a mash-up of every fashion wave and belief bubble before and since. Whether you want you to sing your heart out with the Sing Shakti Choir, hug a hippy, connect with ancient earth energies or cosmic cross-currents, take iconic selfies and panorama shots to make your friends green with envy back home, or simply just be, Stonehenge is big enough for all persuasions.

It is the broadest church with the biggest heart, and it waits to enfold you in its timeless embrace. Come and join the celebration – a five thousand year long party that everyone is invited to.

Summer Solstice 2021: English Heritage remain cautiously optimistic about being able to offer open access in some form. There is likely to still be some uncertainty on how they proceed and continue to navigate the pandemic and the changing regulations under which we are all living. Keep on eye out for our updates

Guest Blogger – Kevan Manwaring, April, 2021

Stonehenge Solstice Relevant Links:
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stones that align with the sun – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

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