Stonehenge was built 5,000 years ago, but to this day it is not known for sure why or by whom. There are many mysteries about Stonehenge. While some modern scholars debate whether the site was built for religious or astronomical purposes, the more imaginative public attributes the origin of Stonehenge to a multitude of legends.
For example, some say it was Merlin, the wizard of King Arthur. He magically transported the stones from Ireland, which were organized circularly by giants. Other theories for Stonehenge include Danish invaders placing the stones of Stonehenge there. There is also the one that says this space is actually a landing area for alien spacecraft.
Regardless of the line of thought, Stonehenge in England is indisputably one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is also one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the United Kingdom, receiving nearly one million visitors annually.
Summer Solstice in Stonehenge
Beyond its historical and touristic relevance, Stonehenge is also considered a religious temple for different pagan groups, such as the Druids. They see the summer and winter solstices as important dates for their religious practices.
Therefore, during these two days (June 21st and December 21st), Stonehenge closes to tourism and is opened free of charge for celebrations. Only during these two days is it possible to get very close and even touch the stones of Stonehenge. That is because the customary isolation cord that is placed for tourist visitation is removed. It is truly a unique opportunity to feel deeply and intimately this archaeological site.
People from all over the world come to Stonehenge during the summer solstice to see the last sunset of spring and the first sunrise of summer, which happens perfectly aligned with one of the stones of Stonehenge. In 2022, the public was estimated at 7,000 people!
Druids, pagans, mystics, curious people, and party-goers travel from all over the world to Stonehenge on the summer solstice to celebrate the beginning of summer and the start of a new cycle. At times, we felt like it was almost a new year, you know? With people even wishing each other “happy solstice” and “happy new year.”
The Stonehenge festival
The summer solstice event at Stonehenge begins in the afternoon of June 20th. It goes on until the morning of June 21st. The music plays intensely throughout, and you hear everything from Celtic drums to Peruvian flutes, Hare Krishnas, and even samba circles.
Since Stonehenge is huge, there is space for everyone and everyone is free to express themselves and participate as they wish, as long as it is with respect. Remember that it is a sacred temple for many people.
The event is also alcohol-free, meaning that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited. But honestly, the security was weak and there were many people drinking – as well as consuming substances considered illegal. Hey, we are not encouraging it though, it is just what the eyes saw! In fact, on the morning of the 21st, I think that if 10% of people were sober it was a lot. We even saw two people getting arrested – one of them was looked a bit insane.
Still, overall, the atmosphere was one of love, happiness, and respect. Of course, there are always those who overdo it, but they were definitely the minority. We even saw an incident of a man who was very drunk and/or high, and started very rudely demanding wine from the group next to him. When the situation became unsustainable and the man was out of control, security was called and he was immediately removed. There are police and security personnel watching over the place at all times.
Night at summer solstice at Stonehenge
It is not possible to camp at Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstice, but there are spaces for tents and motorhomes in the car parking. Those who want to spend the night around the Stonehenge stones can stay awake or sleep outdoors on blankets, mats, or whatever they have. Note that sleeping bags were being confiscated because no camping equipment is allowed. But again, the security was quite tolerant towards people. So some people managed to bring in sleeping bags.
One tip I give is to prepare for the cold. The summer solstice 2022 fell on a very hot week and no one expected that, despite the hot sun during the day, the temperature would drop so much at night. It reached 5 degrees Celsius in the early morning and even with coats, we felt really cold.
How to visit Stonehenge
The first question many might have now is where is Stonehenge and how far is Stonehenge from London?
The nearest city to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which is 140km from London. Therefore, you can take a bus or train to Salisbury. But, as the location of Stonehenge is in the middle of nowhere, you then have to take a free transfer to Stonehenge provided by them. Note that this transfer only exist for the festival. Otherwise, do like we did. We rented a car to go from London to Stonehenge.
Remember to book your car in advance, as prices usually go up well before the solstice due to high demand. We always rent a car with Rental Cars, a search engine that works with the main car rental companies in the world and always finds the best deals. HOMEPAGE, sorryGet a quote here.
The car parking at the Stonehenge opened at 7pm in 2022. When we arrived at 8pm, there was already a long line of cars. We were able to park at 9pm and, as it takes a short walk to get to Stonehenge, we arrived just after sunset. I highly recommend arriving a little earlier so you can walk around the site during the day and appreciate the last spring sun dying on the horizon.
The parking costs £15 and can be paid with a card or cash. You can find more information about the car parking opening times, transfers, and other information on the official Stonehenge website.
Stonehenge summer solstice – infrastructure and what to bring
As we said, camping equipment is not allowed inside Stonehenge – but you can camp in the car parking.
Inside the archaeological site, you can bring food, drinks (alcohol is not allowed!!), musical instruments, and anything else you want. As we’ve mentioned before, it gets very cold at night, so bring a coat, a blanket, and something thick to sit on the ground, as the grass gets very wet. We brought a South-East Asian sarong, but it didn’t help much.
There are food carts, portable toilets and a bonfire for people to warm up. But we must say one was not enough for the cold in 2022.
One thing we found very cool is that it’s an inclusive event, and we saw many elderly people and people with reduced mobility, such as wheelchair users. Although it’s a more wild area, with grass and uneven terrain, there was some infrastructure for wheelchairs, and even a transfer to the car parking for those who needed it.
Stonehenge with children
There were many families with young children, but most chose to watch the sunset, go back to their tents or hotel in Salisbury to sleep, and then return for the sunrise. Although, we also saw children who spent the night at Stonehenge.
We don’t have children, so it’s difficult for us to speak with authority on the topic. However, from what we saw, it’s totally possible to bring children. Keep in mind, once again, that it gets very cold at night and that there are many people using drugs, smoking cigarettes and weed. So they will be exposed to it in some way.
Hotel Stonehenge – where to sleep during the solstice
Camping equipment is not allowed inside Stonehenge, but you can camp or sleep in campervans, or even in your car in the car parking. Most people choose to stay awake all night inside Stonehenge or sleep outdoors. In addition to these options, you can also choose to use Salisbury, 15 km from Stonehenge, as your base.
Stonehenge also opens in the same scheme during the winter solstice, which takes place on December 21st, but apparently the audience is much smaller – understandable, considering how cold it gets, even in the summer.
We are convinced that we won’t know how the winter solstice celebration at Stonehenge is like anytime soon. But for the brave ones who dare to venture, don’t forget to come back here and tell us how it was!
How to visit Stonehenge the rest of the year
To make a day trip to Stonehenge from London is worth it at any time of the year. Of course, we recommend the solstice for those who can and are curious. But, if you’re visiting London or other cities in England outside of the solstice dates, don’t miss the chance to visit Stonehenge!
You can visit Stonehenge on your own by HOMEPAGE, sorryrenting a car from London or other cities, or by taking public transportation to Salisbury.
Find out all about the summer solstice in Stonehenge in these FAQ below:
How old is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge was built 5,000 years ago, but to this day it is not known for sure why or by whom.
How close can I get to Stonehenge?
Stonehenge closes to tourism and is opened free of charge for celebrations during the solstices. Only during these two days is it possible to get very close and even touch the stones of Stonehenge. That is because the customary isolation cord that is placed for tourist visitation is removed.
Can I bring alcohol for the summer solstice in Stonehenge?
Alcohol is not allowed during the Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival
Can I camp at the Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival?
Those who want to spend the night around the Stonehenge stones can stay awake or sleep outdoors on blankets, mats, or whatever they have. Note that sleeping bags were being confiscated because no camping equipment is allowed inside the heritage site. You can camp in the car parking.
How to get to the Stonehenge from London?
The nearest city to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which is 140km from London.
How to go to the summer solstice in Stonehenge from London?
You can take a bus or train to Salisbury. But, as the location of Stonehenge is in the middle of nowhere, you then have to take a free transfer to Stonehenge provided by them. Note that this transfer only exist for the festival.