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This coming Friday, 21 June, is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Over Thursday night and into Friday morning there will be more hours of daylight than any other time of the year, and this, in my opinion, is something worth celebrating!
For millennia the peoples of the British Isles have been marking the Summer Solstice with a variety of events, from the mysterious magic of the Druids, to the more modern festivals of today, always feeling the need to celebrate this once-annual celestial occurrence with pomp and circumstance. This year is no different from others, with events being held throughout the country to mark the occasion.
The most famous of Solstice haunts in the UK, and probably the world, has to be Stonehenge in Somerset. This mysterious standing stone circle is believed to have been built specifically for marking the solstice, and it is only early on the summer solstice morning that the sun lines up perfectly with the surrounding stones and the first rays of sun shine through the stone archway in the centre circle.
The occasion is undoubtedly marked differently today than it was by the Druids of old, but it remains an important ancient site for those who venture to its heart to mark the summer solstice. Here you’ll find a motley crew of thousands all wanting to watch the sun rise at this most auspicious of locations and celebrate the occasion in their own way, with everything from drumming, dancing, singing, chanting, fires, and pretty much everything in between!
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key and involving fewer people dressed up as Druids than you might want to head to Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. At this grand red sandstone Scottish baronial-style castle they will be celebrating the solstice on Friday 21st June with wildlife walks and a giant bonfire.
Spaces are limited so make sure you book in advance, visit Brodick Castle on the National Trust for Scotland website for more information.
If you already have plans for this weekend, you can still get involved in some megalith-love later this summer on a prehistoric walk in South Wales. Volunteers from the Megalithic Portal Society will be directing visitors on a number of walks around Rhossili, Gower, on Saturday 20th July and Sunday 21st July where there are many prehistoric sites to visit. The walks are of varying lengths and types and additional activities will be added, depending on the weather. No advanced booking is needed, just head to the main car park in Rhossili between 10am and 6pm ready to walk!