The Best way to see the summer solstice Stonehenge celebrates!
There is one special time of year when you can actually enter the stone circle of Stonehenge, get up close and personal and not be barred by a chain link fence. It’s the summer solstice which this year falls on 21st June 2017 and celebrates the longest day of the year, in gloomy England. It truly is a magnificent spectacle and historic event! Here’s a guide to the best way to see the everything summer solstice Stonehenge offers and get the details on what happens. Read on for deets on how to travel to Stonehenge and beat the congestion, we’ll summarise how to get to Stonehenge and actually grab some sleep.
There is one time of the year when Stonehenge is gloriously free to the public– whereas, usually it costs.
It is hands down the best time to visit Stonehenge (in Salisbury) if you can possibly manage it. If you can somehow co-ordinate your vacation in the UK to match the summer solstice, this would be worth it’s weight in gold.
So what happens during the summer solstice at Stonehenge? What’s the best way to see the summer solstice Stonehenge offers?
Essentially it’s a religious festival combined with an awe-inspiring historical event- since the stones (we think) were originally positioned to mark the path of the sun during the longest day of the year and other celestial events, and people have been celebrating there in June every year since about 3100BC- so a fairly long time, then. Also it tends to coincide with Glastonbury Festival, so there’s a huge music fest vibe to things for those who are not devout believers- ie. not druids and a general incredible night involved. People tend to stay up all night playing music and celebrating and then watch the sun rise perfectly through the stones as it has been doing for the thousands of years, at dawn.
A trip to stonehenge for the summer solstice is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone, and night owls will love it.
OK I’m excited, so how do I get to Stonehenge?
Luckily, it’s free, so no excuses for missing the summer solstice!
But those ancients didn’t exactly place the stones in an urban space with carparks. The stones are several miles from the nearest village, which is Amesbury in Wiltshire. The nearest major town with good train links from London, is Salisbury.
Source @Flickr CC-NC2.0
Shall I drive then?
Parking is a major problem, because hoardes will descend for the night on the sleepy village of Amesbury for the summer solstice. Once the Stonehenge car park is full, it’s full and from the car park there is a compulsory walk of around half an hour to the stones, over countryside. Attempting to park anywhere else in the village will be tricky and don’t even think of dumping your car on a roadside! If you do drive, arrive as early as possible, the carpark closes at 7pm for the night, and definitely liftshare on your trip to Stonehenge. I shared lifts all through Italy and it was perfect!
Can I take public transport?
Yes, there are good links from Salisbury to the rest of the world by bus and train. From Salisbury you can take a bus to Amesbury, but not later than early evening, and from there you have the option of a taxi to Stonehenge carpark.
How about staying overnight, is that best way to see the summer solstice at Stonehenge in comfort?
If you want to get some sleep, you need to be able to get back and forth from the stones to your hotel room- and there are no hotels within walking distance. Also, at this point all the hotels in Amesbury are full for summer solstice 2017, whoops!
The best way to see the summer solstice Stonehenge craziness:
Never fear, this is the best way of visiting the summer solstice at Stonehenge and seeing what’s happening. After researching for days, I honestly think this is the best way to enjoy the experience of Stonehenge travel.
- Book a hotel in Salisbury close to the train station, ideally with parking if you need to arrive by car
- Head to the hotel and get ready for your night, perhaps even catch some sleep
- Walk to Salisbury Station when you want to hit the action
- Take one of the free buses English Heritage is offering from the station to Stonehenge car park. Salisbury Reds will be running a bus from Stand U in New Canal. The bus runs from 6.30pm on 20th June until 1am the following morning and then restarts at 4am to bring people back. There is also a free coach for Glastonbury festival goers, so expect a lot of muddy wellies around.
Folk celebration at Stonehenge via Flickr CC BY 2.0
What to bring to the summer solstice at Stonehenge?
Bottled water- there is water on site, but queues tend to surround that and the portaloos. You cannot bring alcohol, so there’s that.
Don’t bring sleeping bags, duvets, campchairs or anything big- they’re not allowed on the site.
A rain poncho, because Britain.
A torch/flashlight because you will tramp a lot of muddy unlit ground
Warm coats and blankets, the event is in summer but still chilly at night
Maybe bring food? There are catering vans, and the typical festival food. Many people are vegan, so meaty catering vans have shorter queues.
Don’t bring much money, as things can go missing and no glass, as that will be confiscated.
What to expect?
You might see some people you don’t often encounter in, say, your local library. Although last year attendees fell unexpectedly that only means fewer crowds and this year is set to be stunning! Expect druids in robes, morris dancers and revellers. There will also be families, tourists and anyone who could get there to see something amazing. It takes all types!
Drop me a line, do you agree with these stonehenge travel tips?
Cover image via @stonehengetours.com, CC licence.