Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2023: England Celebrates its Longest Day with Pagan Tradition Pagans of all ages, young and old flock to England’s historic Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, June 21st, to it’s Summer Solstice celebrations. It’s one of only two times per year that visitors to Stonehenge are allowed to get up […]Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2023 Salisbury SP4 7DE, UK Salisbury Wiltshire UK
Pagans of all ages, young and old flock to England’s historic Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, June 21st, to it’s Summer Solstice celebrations.
It’s one of only two times per year that visitors to Stonehenge are allowed to get up close and personal, to touch the precious ancient stones and to experience the sun’s early morning rays as they stream through the rocks. The other day is Winter Solstice on December 21st.
Beginning in the wee hours of the morning, way before sunrise, the festival is a celebration of human togetherness, with musicians playing, drummers, chanting circles, food vendors and people dressed in traditional pagan costumes, complete with flowers in their hair.
“Join in as people dressed in pagan costumes create chanting and drumming circles, touching the magical rocks of Stonehenge as golden light streams through its ancient man made arches.”
Floaty, happy and hippy, it’s a rare experience to feel the golden rays of light in this magical field in Wiltshire with 20,000 other people who feel exactly the same way!
Happy is the only word you could use to describe Stonehenge at Solstice time. The mystical ways of the pagan enthrall visitors to the area. Many people dress up in long colourful capes, with flowers in their hair, some holding hand carved wooden staves. They look like good witches and wizards and add magic to the proceedings.
Bring instruments is encouraged, simple woodwinds and drums are a common sight. Others use their lungs to sing and chant. Anyone can join in, and its so very friendly as locals and tourists mix together for the experience.
After sunrise, everyone wishes each other ‘Happy solstice’ cheerfully thousands of times and all leave the field together, chatting and lively, ready to start the day and commence the journey homeward.
Even though there are thousands of people, you can make your way patiently through people to get up to the stones to have a touch. It’s one of the rights of passage for the night. The others are to join in with random groups of people singing, chanting, playing instruments and drumming. It’s all very primal.
You must also take a tour around the whole field, there is a visitors centre there, and take part in one of the many food vendors who have set up for the night to keep the hungry pagans happy.
Approaching sunrise, which is a slow process, people get as close to the stones as they can. During sunrise, which takes about 50-60 minutes, you can see people skydiving overhead in surrounding fields, which leaves spectators in awe. This happy vibe continues as people clap and finish up the festival to head home.
A crown of flowers, face paints, long colourful capes of green, red, yellow, or blue. It’s High Summer in chilly England. Its High Summer in chilly England so wear sleeves and footwear appropriate to wear in a field that can still be damp,
Bring a wicker basket with a picnic or treats that you can share with others.
Rubber backed rugs for damp ground.
Your favourite flute, lute or drum.
If you can get to the site entry into Stonehenge is free to access on Summer Solstice.
If you want to be picked up from London, Bath or Southhampton, there is a bus tour that will take you right there for an all access tour, these cost £99 for adults and £89 for children and include return bus back to the city of origin.
On regular days at Stonehenge the tickets are £16.50 for adults and £9.90 for children, as well as family tickets.
1am-4am – You need to drive down the motorway and get to Stonehenge, traffic gets heavy from about 2am the closer you get to the site.
4am – Settle in by now, take a walk up to touch the stones, join in with the music and chants, visit a food vendor or two. Settle in for the picnic.
4.50am – Sunrise begins, slowly taking about an hour.
5.00am – the earth’s poles has reached its maximum tilt towards the sun, and today the sun will reach the highest point in the sky, which will bring on the longest day of the year. You will be filled with awe as everyone enjoyed it together.
5.00am-8am – everyone will begging to disperse and start heading home for sleep no doubt. Keen tourists stay behind the longest. Regular tours begin again in the afternoon.
It’s the only time visitors can actually touch the rocks, so make sure that you do this. Nearly every other day of the year tourists are not allowed inside the circle of Stonehenge unless they get a full access tour.
Leave something distinctive on the antenna of your car (like a scarf) so you can find it again amongst all the others afterwards.
You can download an audio guide to your smartphone using Stonehenge’s Wifi access when you get there. How much fun to do this in the dark with a group of friends.
It’s a surprising fact that Stonehenge was built up gradually over a very long period of time. Scientific research and fancy carbon dating puts the big clump of rocks at starting construction in 3000BC, and not finishing until 1600BC. Few examples of intact long periods of construction are found at other ancient sites.
Many of the colossal stones way more than 30 tonnes. There are smaller bluestone rocks from Wales too, that would have been transported over 150 miles. Prehistorically engineered, it was a sacred place, which was really valued by the people who used it. What’s not completely apparent is what it was used for. This gives Stonehenge its mystical aura, as scientists and historians can only speculate.
Stonehenge was added to the UNESCO Heritage list of world sites for preservation in 1986 and has been restored and maintained for admirers and visitors. Visitors are not allowed to go near the rocks or inside the circle, so that they can protect the site from erosion and damage, unless they have special permissions.
The beautiful town of Bath is located about one hours drive from Stonehenge. The ancient town is steeped in history and famous for its Roman baths. Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to backpacker hostels and caters well for visitors.
Stay on the Hunky Dory Canal boat in Bath and enjoy the nautical way of life for a night or two. The charming little wooden boat is a cosy place to enjoy the night with its little net curtains and polished wooden features. Head to the local waterfront pub so you won’t have to cook.
It’s mostly westernised British style food in the trucks that are brought in for the festival. Cheeseburgers, fish and chips, cakes, Cornish pastries and pies, hotdogs, pizza, soft drinks and coffee.
Don’t expect anything too healthy, although you never know, a trendy vegan truck might be found as well.
You can fly to England, London Heathrow from all over the world.
Taking a train to Salisbury will get you on a shuttle to Stonehenge. There are special buses on the night of the festival. The easiest way is to drive, the motorway is signposted well to the area.
There are also tour buses leaving from all major cities and towns in the area but these must be booked in advance.
Well Stonehenge is contained in a field, so walking around by foot will be the only option and the safest as you make your way through crowds. Remember to have rest time on a picnic rug and take plenty of water to stay hydrated. It can be a long night for walking around.
Stonehenge has a comprehensive Visitor Centre. It includes a tour, gallery, artefacts and objects found, and a gift shop with large cafe. They offer Wifi, bus shuttles every 5 minutes, and a timed entry ticket slot, with last entry 2 hours before closing time.
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