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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Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations 2014: Web Links and Information

19 06 2014

English Heritage are pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice on 20-21 June solstivce-stone
2014.

Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on these pages.

“It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending. “

 

You can follow @eh_stonehenge on Twitter for travel updates on the night.

You can also follow @ST0NEHENGE on Twitter for Stonehenge pics and info

Tweet us your Stonehenge Summer Solstice pics using the hashtag #henge

We hope the weather will be kind and wish you a peaceful and celebratory solstice.

USEFUL LINKS:

ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY:

DIRECTIONS TO STONEHENGE

TRAVELLING TO STONEHENGE SUMMER SOLSTICE:

ON-SITE FACILITIES DURING SUMMER SOLSTICE – DOWNLOAD A CAR PARK AND MONUMENT MAP HERE

Download the free Stonehenge audio guide and listen en-route to the Stones

Summer Solstice event at Stonehenge we will be operating a special shuttle service between Salisbury and Stonehenge: http://tinyurl.com/qz2p4ep

For information on accommodation providers in the county of Wiltshire and other attractions and services in the area, please see the Visit Wiltshire website.

Stonehenge is approximately 2½ miles (4 kms) from the town of Amesbury. The nearest bus and railway stations are in Salisbury, which is 12 miles (19 kms) away from Stonehenge.

As the roads around Stonehenge will be very busy, it is recommended that you leave your car at home and travel to Stonehenge by public transport.  The local bus company, Salisbury Reds, will be running a special service from Salisbury railway station and Stand U in New Canal, to a drop-off point near Stonehenge.  The buses will also stop at any recognised bus stop along the line of the route, which is via Amesbury. CLICK HERE FOR SALISBURY SHUTTLE SERVICE

Timings for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

  • SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS
    19.00 hours (7pm) Friday 20 June
  • ACCESS TO STONEHENGE
    19.00 hours (7pm) Friday 20 June
  • LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK
    06.00 hours (6am) Saturday 21 June
  • STONEHENGE CLOSES
    08.00 hours (8am) Saturday 21 June
  • SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED
    12.00 hours (12 Noon) Saturday 21 June  

We hope the weather will be kind and wish you a peaceful and celebratory solstice.

Sunset and Sunrise on the Summer Solstice

Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:

  • Sunset on Friday 20 June 2014 is at 21.26 hrs (9.26pm)
  • Sunrise on Saturday 21 June 2014 is at 04.52 hrs (4.52am)
The Stonehenge News Blog




VISITING Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice has been voted as one of the top 25 life experiences in the world today.

18 05 2014

Stonehenge is one of 25 top life experiences

Salisbury Journal: The ancient stone monument Stonehenge.

The ancient stone monument Stonehenge

VISITING Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice has been voted as one of the top 25 life experiences in the world today.

The ultimate Wonder List of must-do life experiences was created following a study commissioned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Discovery Channel.

An expert panel, which included adventurer Bear Grylls and editors of Wanderlust, Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine and National Geographic Traveller, created a long-list of the must-do worldwide experiences, which a poll of 2,000 British adults then cut to a shortlist of 25.

The most popular life experience was to visit the North Cape in Norway to see the Aurora Borealis, a stunning natural light display, followed by snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and a road trip along Route 66 in America.

Stonehenge came 18th in the list, one of only two British experiences to make the list. The other, celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh, was number 23.

Susanna Dinnage, managing director of Discovery Networks UK & Ireland, said: “It’s lovely to see great British experiences, such as visiting Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice, figure so highly on the list. Be it adventures on home soil or experiencing life-defining moments further afield, we believe there’s always more to know, to experience and to explore.

As we celebrate 25 years of broadcasting in the UK, the Wonder List embodies Discovery’s continued passion to inspire the nation, expand horizons and make your world bigger.”

They were also asked to nominate the best life experiences to be had in the UK, and visiting Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice got more than a third of the vote, as well as the seven natural wonders of the UK and the seven manmade wonders of the UK, with Stonehenge also topping the latter with over half the nation’s vote.

The findings revealed over half of us have private wonder list of experiences we want to complete and a lack of money is the number on reason stopping people completing their own wonder list.

Article source: By Corey Ross (Salisbury Journal):

Link: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/11220485.display/?ref=twtrec

English Heritage Open Access: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours:
Premium Tours: http://bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/out-of-london-tours/stonehenge-summer-solstice-celebration-see-the-sunset-standing-within-the-centre-of-the-stone-circle-284

Stonehenge Guided Tours: http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-summer-solstice-tour.htm

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Solstice Ancient Celebration. June 21st 2013

16 06 2013

With the Summer Solstice fast approaching we start to see our visitor numbers increase in Wiltshire. It is a bumper time for our tourist industry as people from all over the world descend upon our county and join in with this ancient celebration.

The Summer Solstice is known to Pagans as ‘Alban Hefin’ which means ‘Light of the Shore’. It occurs on the 21st June when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and the days are at their longest. The nights begin to draw in after this date, which is a scary thought as summer has only just got going. The Druids celebrate this event with special ceremonies and rituals that are believed to date back several millennia. Although the 4000 year old monument of Stonehenge has been the centre stage for these ceremonies; Avebury, Woodhenge and the Kennet long barrow have also attracted worshippers at this special time of year.

Looking into our local studies archives I have discovered that the Solstice festivities have not always been peaceful as the Druids would wish.

In 1901, Salisbury Police invoiced the landowner of Stonehenge, Colonel Sir Edmund Antrobus ‘for police services rendered’ for the night of 20th June. He was charged for one Superintendent, one Inspector, two Sergeants and seven Constables a total of £3. 4s.2d. presumably this would have been for crowd control or public order duties.

During the 1950s the Druid procession was accompanied by the Military Police and members of the Army. The security operation was overseen by the Ministry of Works (a government department responsible for building projects). Public gatherings at Stonehenge increased not only by the number of people but also in disorder. There were reported to be many barrels and crates on site, presumably of beer. The ‘high jinks’ was quashed in 1956 when young officers threw ‘thunderflashes’ in to the unruly crowd.

By the early 1970s a small music festival was conceived, which took place in woods near Amesbury during the days leading up to the 21st June. This was the beginning of the Free Festival which continued to grow in popularity and controversy throughout the ‘70s until 1984 when it ended abruptly.

During the early 80s a new wave of ‘new age travellers’ replaced the ‘hippy’ label of the ‘60s. Large numbers of travellers would congregate on private land and were reported to have committed trespass, criminal damage and public order offences.

On June 1st 1985, events came to a head culminating in the infamous ‘Battle of the Beanfield’. It wasn’t until June 2000 that a truce was finally made between the authorities and members of the public; 5000 people were given the privilege of entering the sacred circle.

On Thursday 5th September, one of our archaeologists, Rachel Foster, will be giving a talk on ‘Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Sites’ at the History Centre, contact the centre for further details. Alternatively, records are available to view by members of the public. We have copies of newspapers on microfilm, newspaper articles in our ephemera collection and also scrapbooks on ‘The Battle of Stonehenge’. We also hold the book ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’, edited by Andy Worthington, published by Enabler Publications in 2005 and utilised for this article.

Article by: Anna Ervine Local Studies Assistant
Source: http://www.wshc.eu/blog/item/the-summer-solstice.html

Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2013/06/01/stonehenge-summer-solstice-celebrations-2013/
Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2013/06/10/summer-solstice-2013-stonehenge-managed-access/

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for all the Solstice News: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog








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