Stonehenge’s Summer Solstice Celebration Will Be Held Online

The event has attracted over 35,000 partying visitors in the past

Celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Brooke Bell/Unsplash
By Tanner Garrity / May 16, 2020 7:00 am

Each year, tens of thousands of people, including pagans, partiers and pagan partiers, descend on Wiltshire, England to watch the sun rise behind Stonehenge on the longest day of the year. They beat drums, some do drugs, and most make it to 4:50 a.m., when the sun rises just to the left of the Heel Stone. There are few better ways to experience Midsummer’s Day. According to English Heritage, the charity in charge of maintaining the sacred site, Stonehenge was literally built “in relation to the solstices, or the extreme limits of the sun’s movement.”

But this year, would-be visitors will have to enjoy the 5,000-year-old site’s annual spectacle from the safety of their own homes. English Heritage announced the difficult decision this week that it will host a livestream instead, which will be accessible via its social accounts.

The director of Stonehenge, Nichola Tasker, said, “We have consulted widely on whether we could have proceeded safely and we would have dearly liked to host the event as per usual, but sadly in the end, we feel we have no choice but to cancel. We hope that our live stream offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”

For locals in the U.K., streaming the sunrise would involve getting up far before dawn on June 21, a Sunday — just without any of the usual excitement of being surrounded by a buzzing crowd at the actual holy, neolithic site. But for Americans with wanderlust, incurable ennui, or even pagan beliefs (do you!) you can probably fit in the event before heading to bed on June 20. Queue it up around 11:30 p.m. EST and watch it under a blanket. Hopefully you can visit for real next year.

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