Salutations to the sun! It’s time to ring in the astronomical first day of summer, as Summer Solstice in Bristol occurs on June 21 this year. Historically Midsummer’s Day marked the midpoint of the growing season and was celebrated with food, song, dance and preparation for the hot days ahead.
Officially the longest day of the year, many of these celebrations still remain (especially in the South West where a deep connection with pagan traditions continues). It’s a time to see the changing of the seasons and reconnect with the Earth. So for Summer Solstice 2023, make sure to check out these weird and wonderful celebrations in and around Bristol.
There are no bigger celebrations of Summer Solstice in the South West than at Stonehenge. While not a lot is known about this Neolithic monument, we do know it was built to align with the sun on the solstices. When the sun rises on the first day of summer, the first rays shine right into the heart of Stonehenge. Celebrations will take place from 7 pm on June 20 until 8 am on June 21.
Stonehenge has been a place for celebration for thousands of years. As a result, the World Heritage Site is a sacred place to many, so can get pretty busy. If you want to still see this unique experience without the crowds, the sunrise will be live-streamed on the official English Heritage YouTube channel. Learn more about Summer Solstice at Stonehenge here.
Stonehenge is an hour and a half drive from Bristol, near Salisbury.
2. Wake The Tiger
Since opening as the world’s first Amazement Park last year, Wake the Tiger has been a wild and wonderful addition to Bristol. To celebrate the longest day of the year, it continues to surprise with otherworldly Solstice celebrations. On June 30, Sundust invites us to the world of Meridia for a special adults-only, summer solstice party. Between 7:30pm and 1:00am, celebrations of the sun will include live music, performance, theatre, and circus.
The ultimate challenge for guests will be to outshine the most powerful star – the sun – with an out-of-this-world outfit. The Wake The Tiger team recommend this should be either recycled, repurposed or used previously – all in the name of guests energising themselves at Sundust. To learn more head here.
Wake The Tiger, 127 Albert Rd, Bristol BS2 0YA
Wiltshire’s other (and actually older) stone circle will also hold Summer Solstice 2023 celebrations this year. A brilliant day trip all year, hundreds are expected to make the pilgrimage to Avebury on June 20 to see the new dawn rise. The festival-like celebrations will continue through the day on June 21. Expect live music, dancing, lots of fire and performances from those dressed in quirky costumes. It’s a bit more laid-back than Solstice over at Stonehenge, as there’s a lot more space around the three stone circles. That being said, it can still get fairly busy.
Avebury is about an hour’s drive from Bristol.
Not to miss out on celebrations, Propyard will be holding a Summer Solstice Garden Party on June 17. From 1 to 10 pm, soak up the sun to groovy house beats, indulge in delicious BBQ treats and refresh with cooling cocktails at the former torpedo testing factory. The likes of Charlie Boon, Ellis Roberts, Amos, Spicy Ivy and Mista Ray will bring the summer vibes. Because midsummer is all about enjoying yourself. To learn more head here.
Propyard, 39-46 Feeder Rd, Bristol BS2 0SE
5. Castle Park
If you can’t make it down to Stonehenge midweek, you will be able to catch a taste of it at the Castle Park bandstand on June 17. Shakti Sings Choir will be holding a rehearsal for Summer Solstice 2023 ahead of its Stonehenge visit. They’ll be there from midday singing to the sun. So head down and enjoy with a picnic in the park. Learn more here.
Castle Park, Broad Weir, Bristol, BS1 3XB
6. Glastonbury Tor
Anyone the has been to Glastonbury Festival will have seen Glastonbury Tor, topped by St Michael’s Tower, in the far distance. This hill is steeped in Arthurian legend and was once called ‘The Isle of Avalon’ by ancient Britons. So, much like Midsummer, it held a special place in our ancestors’ hearts. At daybreak on June 21, many will climb Glastonbury Tor to watch the sunrise and soak in boundless pleasant pastures.
Glastonbury Tor in Somerset is an hour’s drive from Bristol or two hours by bus.
7. Stanton Drew Stone Circle
Consisting of 26 standing stones, and on the outskirts of Bristol, is Stanton Drew Stone Circle. They’re the third-largest prehistoric standing stones in England, but often a lot quieter than the bigger brothers of Stonehenge and Avebury. A similarly spiritual site, many locals will gather here for Summer Solstice near Bristol. Just without all the commotion. Expect the 4 am gathering on June 21 to be ideal for those looking for a relaxed and calm celebration.
Stanton Drew is less than half an hour from Bristol.