With this week’s news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June and following discussions with Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year.
The event will be live streamed for free on English Heritage’s social media channels which was watched last year by 5.2 million viewers. English Heritage will also ensure that small, pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community can gather on the days around the Summer Solstice to mark this important moment in their calendar.
Nichola Tasker, English Heritage’s Director for Stonehenge said: “We share people’s disappointment with this decision, we were busy getting ready to welcome everyone for Summer Solstice but the announcement this week left us with no choice.
“We’re working with the pagan and druid community to ensure that small groups can still mark in person what is a very important moment for them and we will be live-streaming the Summer Solstice for free so that wherever you are, you can still enjoy the sight of the solstice sun over the ancient stones.”
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health at Wiltshire Council, said: “We know this will be disappointing for those who wanted to visit Stonehenge. However, it is important we recognise restrictions are still in place for a reason and we all need to play our part to stay safe. I would encourage people to view the Summer Solstice online and I want to thank people in advance for their understanding and co-operation in ensuring Wiltshire plays its part.”
Superintendent Steve Cox of Wiltshire Police said: “We fully support this approach by English Heritage in the light of the Government’s decision to delay the planned easing of lockdown.
“Public safety is our primary concern and whilst we recognise that this will be disappointing news to many who were looking forward to marking the Solstice at Stonehenge, it should be understood that this action has been made following concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Please also be aware there is no extended or overnight opening of National Trust facilities at Avebury for the solstice weekend.”
English Heritage had to cancel both last year’s Summer and Winter Solstice celebrations due to the pandemic but prior to Monday’s Government announcement, the charity was preparing with our partners to welcome people to the prehistoric monument for this year’s Summer Solstice. However, the delay in easing all Covid-19 restrictions means that the celebrations cannot go ahead – in previous years numbers attending the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge have swelled through the night to anything from 7,000 to 30,000 plus people, far in excess of the 4,000 currently permitted at outdoor gatherings during the now continuing Step 3 of the roadmap. All agencies have worked closely to support English Heritage in the planning for the Summer Solstice.
To experience the Stonehenge summer solstice live stream visit English Heritage on social media: