Your guide to the summer solstice and Stonehenge

Discover why humans have celebrated the solstice for thousands of years, and why you need to visit the prehistoric monument on this important day. Taking a GWR train is one of the most eco-friendly ways of reaching the ancient attraction.

Friday 21 June will be the longest day of the year, with 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight.

The summer solstice – also known as midsummer –  occurs when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, above the Tropic of Cancer, and the Earth’s pole is tilted towards the Sun.

Technically, the solstice occurs at a specific point in time – 4.54pm – but we more commonly use the term to refer to the whole day.

For thousands of years, humans have celebrated the solstice, and the occasion is most associated with pagans, who call it Litha.


Built between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC in several stages, using stones from as far away as the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire and the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most-famous ancient sites.

One of the wonders of the world, its was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, and attracts over a million visitors each year.

On the afternoon of Thursday 20 June, the site closes early to allow for ‘Summer Solstice Managed Open Access’, which is free of charge.

It’s a great way to watch the sun set and rise again, among friends, visitors and worshippers. See how the falling and rising light interacts with the standing stones and discover the true magic of the ancient monument.

Stonehenge will re-open for normal admissions on the afternoon of Friday 21 June. For more, visit the English Heritage website.