It’s easy to forget with Christmas looming over us, but tomorrow (December 22) is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The days are only going to get brighter from here on out and, as is tradition, many will be heading to Stonehenge in the wee hours of tomorrow morning for Winter Solstice. Meanwhile, tens of thousands will also be watching the sunrise hit the Neolithic monument online.
Around 4,600 people visited the World Heritage Site in 2022, with this number only likely to rise in 2023. The celebrations will be marked by numerous pagan rituals and ceremonies, ranging from song and dance to lighting lanterns, striking yoga poses, and reciting poems. In a joyous celebratory atmosphere, you celebrate however you want – as long as you respect the stones and those around you.
Believed to be around 4,000 years old, Stonehenge was built to align with the sun on both solstices – sunrise in the summer and sunset in the winter. But the Winter Solstice is thought to be the more important of two – at least to ancient Britons – as it signifies the rebirth of the sun for the new year. Something we can still get excited about in 2023.
How do I attend Winter Solstice at Stonehenge?
Located in Wiltshire on the Salisbury Plain, the closest train station is in Salisbury – from there, you can usually catch a direct bus to Stonehenge, but seeing as you’ll have to arrive in the early hours of the morning, your easiest option is to drive. The Stonehenge car park will open at 5:15am on Friday, with all vehicles needing to vacate the car parks by 11am.
Entry to the monument will be from 7:45am (or whenever it is light enough to safely enter) until 10am. Admission to Stonehenge is also free on Winter Solstice, but parking charges apply. If you don’t fancy the arduous trip down, however, there is another way to see the sunrise at Stonehenge tomorrow morning.
English Heritage will be live streaming the sunrise on the morning of December 22 for free on its digital channels. Last year, 100,000 from around the world chose to do so. The stream begins at 7am, with sunrise expected to occur at 8:09am. However you choose to celebrate Winter Solstice, and the shortest day of the year, just remember to ‘Praise the sun!’