1. ITV Report

Five things you didn't know about the Summer Solstice

The sun rises over Stonehenge on the longest day of the year Photo: ITV News

Thousands of people cheered the sunrise at Stonehenge and on Exmoor on Thursday morning to celebrate the summer solstice.

Crowds were treated to near-perfect conditions as the sun rose at 4:52am, marking the longest day of the year.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

The pagan tradition of celebrating summer solstice dates back thousands of years, but here are some interesting facts you may not know:

  • The summer solstice marks the beginning of summer, giving us nearly seventeen hours of sunlight. Unfortunately the days now begin to get shorter.
  • It happens when the earth's axis tilts at its furthest point. Giving one hemisphere the longest day of the year, and the other its shortest.
  • It has spiritual significance. Paganism dates back to a time before Christianity and has always used the solstice as a time for reflection, celebration and a chance to cleanse away bad spirits.
  • The word 'solstice' derives from the Latin words 'sol' which means sun, and 'sistere' which means to stand still.
  • Alcohol was banned from the Stonehenge site a few years ago to prevent anti-social behaviour and substance abuse during the celebrations.