In the northern hemisphere the summer solstice occurs around the 21 June and it is the time when then sun reaches its highest point of the year at the Tropic of Cancer, giving us the longest day. To some it marks the start of summer.
Thousand of people choose to visit the neolithic monument of Stonehenge to celebrate. Free managed access to the stones is allowed from the evening through to a few hours after sunrise. It attracts an eclectic mix of young and old, pagans, hippies, and those just curious or wanting to enjoy the event.
If you stand in the right place on the summer solstice, you will see the sun rise directly above the Heel Stone, which stands just outside the circle to the north-east.
Sunrise occurs before 5am but there’s no guarantee of being able to see the perfect sunrise. That never seems to deter anyone’s spirits. The drumming and horn blowing around the ancient monument has many dancing and the sound of skylarks fills the air.
The ceremonies performed at the stones are mainly associated with the Druids. Titular Head and chosen Chief of The Loyal Arthurian Warband, King Arthur Pendragon can often be found leading the solstice proceedings at the Heel stone whilst other druid groups can be found in the inner circle or just outside.
The solstice is extra special for couples looking to have a handfasting ceremony. It binds them together as they pledge to commit for a year and a day, eternity and beyond or as long as their love will last. Their ceremony finishes with the couple jumping over a staff, showing a leap of faith.
The words of the druids during the rituals are a sentiment echoed by many:
“May there be Peace in the East! May there be Peace in the South! May there be Peace in the West! May there be Peace in the North!May there be Peace throughout the whole world.”
The Summer Solstice 2017 is on 21 June at 04:24.
Solstice car park and access to the monument is open from 19:00 on 20 June. The car park closes at 06:00 on 21 June, or when full and cars need to leave by 12:00. Car park charges apply but buses run to the event from Salisbury railway station.
Alcohol is not permitted and bags will be security checked.
Please do not climb on the stones.