The 21 June marks the Summer Solstice, and prehistoric world heritage site Stonehenge has been the chosen location for annual worship and celebration for thousands of years. Thinking of joining the revellers at this year’s celebrations? Here’s what you need to know…
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
It is thought that the giant stones at Stonehenge have stood in the same spot since 3000 to 2000 BC, and they’re positioned to align with the sunrise on the Winter and Summer Solstices, which is why the stones are the chosen location for the annual celebrations. It’s the only time of year that you can get up close and personal with the stones at this ancient monument.
If you do manage to beat off the crowds (up to 20,000 may gather for the sunrise on Thursday 21 June), and position yourself at just the right spot inside the Stonehenge monument, you’ll see the sun rise directly above the Heel Stone, just outside the circle to the north-east. Want to be there? Here’s what you need to know…
Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge. The car park will open on Wednesday 20 June at 7pm, which is when access to the monument field will also open. Sunset will be at 9.26pm on the 20 June, and sunrise on the 21 June will be at 4.52am. The monument field will close at 8am, with the carpark to be vacated by 12noon.
Remember to read the terms of entry before your visit, which include rules on no alcohol, and no camping equipment or fires.
To plan your visit, check out the English Heritage website.
Make a Weekend of the Summer Solstice
Want to make a holiday out of your summer solstice celebrations? Here are a couple of ways to make more of an occasion out of the start of summer…
The 10th Stonehenge Solstice Festival
Running from 18-21 June, the 10th Stonehenge Solstice Festival is a folk-themed festival culminating in the Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. The site of the festival is in the middle of the Salisbury Plain, and on the last night of the Festival, organisers provide a private bus service, included with your ticket, which takes you into the Stonehenge World Heritage Site run by English Heritage, for the Summer Solstice celebrations. Expect free yoga sessions, a reiki healing tent and an eclectic music offering. Find out more at solsticefest.co.uk
Just 25 minutes down the road from Stonehenge you’ll find The Three Daggers, offering top-notch food, 5-star B&B accommodation, plus on-site spa and microbrewery; it’s the perfect location to recover from the Summer Solstice celebrations in style.
A stone’s throw from the Salisbury plain, The Three Daggers is a classic English pub located in Edington in the heart of Wiltshire. The original site dates back over 300 years and is now home to a family and dog-friendly pub, which is a favourite for locals and visitors to the area. On site you’ll find a well-stocked farm shop, micro-brewery and spa barn, (where the hot stone massage is a must, especially if you’ve spend the night in a field for the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge). The inn has three en-suite double bedrooms, above the pub, which all have shared use of a cosy lounge and kitchen area with freshly baked bread alongside tea and coffee facilities. There are also plenty of Hunter wellies for guests to borrow for muddy country walks around the stunning surrounding countryside, which includes the Salisbury plain, and the Westbury White Horse.
For the ultimate group getaway, book out newest offering at Hillside Cottage and Spa, where there are six further rooms, which can be booked individually or for exclusive use. Guests of Hillside have exclusive access to a private steam and sauna house with outdoor plunge pool and hot tub, plus the Trailhead Lodge, a luxe games-room-cum-man-cave.
And if your Stonehenge visit has you in the mood for ancient stone circles, don’t forget to plan a trip to Avebury, just half an hour from The Three Daggers, another world heritage site and home to the impressive Neolithic henge monument; in fact, Summer Solstice celebrations at Avebury are sure to be, ahem, rocking, too.
Room rates at The Three Daggers start from £85 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. threedaggers.co.uk