28 May 2024

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge: Here’s everything you need to know

Tomorrow (21st June 2022) marks the longest day, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, with the sun due to rise in Salisbury at 4.52am and set at 9.26pm, delivering 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

During the summer solstice, the earth’s axis is tilted at its closest point from the sun. This means that in the northern hemisphere, the sun is at its highest point in the sky creating the longest day.

The Summer Solstice has been celebrated at the ancient prehistoric world heritage site of Stonehenge for thousands of years and this evening is no different. Thousands of pagans, druids, and tourists are set to descend on Stonehenge this evening to see the sunrise between the prehistoric stones.

Last year’s celebrations were cancelled due to COVID social distancing restrictions. So this year will see the return to full celebrations.

Winter solstice 2021 – Credit English Heritage

Why is Stonehenge significant to the Summer Solstice?

The stone circle was set up around 2500 BC and was carefully designed to align with the movements of the sun. Standing in the centre of the monument during the summer solstice, the sun rises just to the left of a large standing stone outside the stone circle, known as the Heel Stone, seen through a gap in the outer sarsen circle.

According to English Heritage, it is likely that people gathered at Stonehenge at both midsummer and midwinter solstices to conduct rituals and ceremonies relating to the changing seasons, the sun and the sky.

“It must have been important to align their monument with the movements of the sun but we may never know the exact reasons why.”

Today, Stonehenge is a sacred place of worship to the druid community. King Arthur Pendragon, a local Arch Druid and Pagan Priest describes the Summer Solstice as “the Pagan equivalent of Christmas.”

“Stonehenge is the epicentre of our community, it is a Cathedral rather than a Parish Church to the Druid and Pagan community.

“One of the common misconceptions is that druids and pagans worship nature. We actually worship the divine but we see it through nature, and Stonehenge of course was built for solstices and equinoxes, so it is the ideal place to celebrate the turning of the wheel, and that’s what we do four times a year,” explains Arthur Pendragon.

Stonehenge sunrise Credit English Heritage – Andre Pattenden

Attending Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Those looking to attend this year’s Summer Solstice celebrations can arrive at Stonehenge from 7pm onwards.

For those wanting to witness the sunrise from home, English Heritage will be live streaming the sunrise on their Youtube Channel and Facebook Page.

The site closed at 3pm today in preparation for Summer Solstice Managed Open Access. The Solstice Carpark will open at 7pm and visitors will be able to access the monument field from the same time onwards.

The last admission to the car park is at 6am or when the car park is full. The car park is to be vacated by noon on 21st June 2022.

English Heritage recommends using public transport to get to Stonehenge as the roads and parking facilities will be very busy during the Solstice celebrations.

By Bus
Salisbury Reds will be running a special Solstice service from Salisbury railway station and Stand U in New Canal to a drop-off point at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Buses will also stop at bus stops along the route, which is via Amesbury.

The Salisbury Reds bus service is wheelchair accessible and begins at 18:15 hours on Monday 20th June and runs regularly (15-minute intervals) until 00:30 hours on Tuesday 21st June. A service taking people back to Salisbury will start again at 05:00 hours and run frequently until 10:00 hours. The collection point for the return service is in the same location as the drop-off point at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.

Please note: there is a 25-30 minute walk (approximately 1½ miles or 2km) from the bus drop-off/collection point at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to Stonehenge. This walk is across National Trust down-land which is uneven: sensible footwear and a torch are advisable.

By Car
Parking is very limited and English Heritage highly recommends car sharing if you can do so safely and within Covid safety guidelines – follow this link to share your car or find out who has space in their car.

Please note traffic will be heavy in the area on the evening of Monday 20th June. Please do not be tempted to abandon your vehicle and park it either on the A303 or other neighbouring roads and public rights of way. Cars parked illegally or causing an obstruction will be towed away.

Further information

The sunset is at 9.28pm and sunrise is at 4.49am on 21st June 2022.

No alcohol is allowed within the monument or the monument field. Alcohol will be confiscated or individuals in possession of alcohol will be asked to leave.

Visitors are asked to not climb or stand on any of the stones and are reminded that Stonehenge is a significant World Heritage Site and to many it is sacred – “please respect the stones and all those who are attending.”

For more travel advice click here, for more information on Summer Solstice at Stonehenge click here.

Written by
Beth Doherty
View all articles
Written by Beth Doherty