Celebrating Summer Solstice around the UK

The summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries in the UK. It marks the longest day of the year and the official start of summer.

When Is It?

The summer solstice occurs at the exact moment when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky. In 2024 the astronomical summer solstice will occur on Thursday, June 20th at 9:50 pm in the UK.

It marks the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year.

Watch the Sunrise at Stonehenge

The Stonehenge Summer Solstice celebration in 2024 will take place from the evening of Thursday, June 20th to the morning of Friday, June 21st.

One of the most iconic summer solstice celebrations happens at the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

People gather on the evening of June 20th and stay overnight to watch the sunrise directly over the heel stone as the first rays peek through the monument.

Ancient Sites & Alignments

Representing this annual cycle, famous neolithic monuments oriented towards the solstice sun like Stonehenge, Newgrange, the Ring of Brodgar, and many more across Britain. These ancient sites use alignments of stones, chambers, and surrounding landscape features to track the solstice sunrise/sunset.

Symbolism & Folklore

  • The Oak & Holly: In Celtic lore, these trees were symbolic of the solstice transition between seasons.
  • Midsummer Bonfires & the Wheel: Fire rituals commemorating the “turning” of the sun’s path. Wheels were often set alight and rolled down hills.
  • Herbs & Flowers: Research herbs and flowers associated with solstice celebrations like St. John’s Wort, vervain, roses, and elderflowers.

Other Ancient Sites
Besides Stonehenge, you can experience the solstice sunrise or sunset at other historical sites oriented toward the sun, such as:

  • Avebury Stone Circle (Wiltshire)
  • The Ring of Brodgar (Orkney Islands, Scotland)
  • Newgrange (Ireland)

Summer Solstice Celebrations

Many towns and cities across Britain host summer solstice festivals with live music, food stalls, craft markets, dancing, and family activities.

Food & Drink Traditions

  • Midsummer Ales & Meads: Historical and modern crafting of seasonal ales and honey-based meads.
  • Summer Fruits & Vegetables: Incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into solstice meals and recipes.
  • Midsummer Cakes: Bake traditional solstice treats like buttered bunloaf, honey cakes, and oatcakes.

Host a Garden Party

Have friends and family over to celebrate the longest day of the year with a summer solstice garden party. Decorate with flowers, make solstice-themed foods like midsummer cakes and summer fruits, play outdoor games, and enjoy being outside from sunrise to sunset!

With ancient monuments, local festivals, bonfires, and all-day sunlight, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this vibrant summer tradition across the UK!