All you need to know about summer solstice ceremony at Stonehenge


Next week sees the arrival of the summer solstice - the longest day of the year.

It marks the onset of summer, and it's a cause for celebration. Each solstice thousands of people head to Stonehenge, which is famous for its alignment on sunrise on the special day.

According to Heritage England, the stones near Amesbury in Wiltshire were set up in about 2500 BC and designed to align with the movements of the sun.

Standing in the centre of the monument at 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.

(Andrew Matthews/PA) Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

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.

The longest day of the year was likely a time of celebration, with warm nights and long daylight making it the perfect time to gather together.

This year the event will take place on the night of Monday, 20 June and the morning of Tuesday, 21 June, and with limited parking on site, English Heritage is once again urging visitors to use public transport or car share after previous busy years.

Parking and buses to Stonehenge

Car parking will be available from 7pm on 20 June until 6am on 21 June, and will shut once full. The car park will be vacated by noon on the Monday.

Buses will run from Salisbury and pedestrians are advised to use the designated, temporary pedestrian crossing on the A303 at Stonehenge Cottages.

During the Solstice event, National Highways will assist the flow of traffic before, during and after the event.

A 40mph speed limit will be in place on the A303 between the Countess roundabout and Longbarrow roundabout, with the lay-bys closed in between, and the dual carriageway will be reduced to a single lane between Countess Roundabout and Stonehenge Cottages.

Traffic at Stonehenge Credit: National Highways

John Ingram, National Highways’ Resilience Planner for the South West, said: “We’re anticipating traffic volumes to increase on the A303 around this event, and our aim is to keep the National Highways network running while keeping road users safe and informed.

“The traffic management will be in place for safety and to keep disruption to a minimum, and we advise all road users to check our traffic and travel information channels, plan their journeys and allow plenty of time.

“A temporary pedestrian crossing will be installed near Stonehenge Cottages for the safety of visitors walking from Stonehenge Road, Amesbury, and we advise all pedestrians to use this to access the site.”

Here is the latest information on the Summer Solstice event.