Almost 10,000 people, of the 25,000 expected, gathered at Stonehenge in England to welcome summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In 2017, around 13,000 people attended the same event after 12,000 came the year before. Interestingly enough, the crowd was almost double that size in 2015, with a total of 23,000 attendees. The turnout largely depends of the day of the week the solstice occurs, as well as weather conditions.
Twitter - @PAImages
This year’s crowd was treated to an amazing sunrise over the Neolithic Wiltshire monument at 4:52 am. Stonehenge was built along the solstice alignment of the winter sunset and the summer sunrise, which occurs behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle. This allows the rays of sunlight to be channeled directly to the center of the monument. Many believe that these events have been celebrated there for thousands of years.
Twitter - @RobGMacfarlane
Kate Davies, the director of Stonehenge for English Heritage, said of the special day, “Celebrating summer solstice is one of the highlights of the year at Stonehenge. It’s a great opportunity for friends and families to come together and mark the longest day of the year, as people have done for thousands of years. There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere throughout, the sun shone, and dawn was met with loud cheers.”
Twitter - @CMeskillUK
She also acknowledged the help of the Wiltshire Council and the Wiltshire Police, who were also on hand with armed officers as a precaution. Visitors were asked to share lifts or take public transpiration, to reduce traffic and emissions, and to only bring small bags. Alcohol was not allowed at the event. Check out a simplified explanation for the summer solstice here, and watch a time-lapse of the sunrise below...