Winter Solstice at Stonehenge 2023
Winter Solstice History
The Winter Solstice, also known as the shortest day of the year, takes place this year on Friday 22nd December. For thousands of years, civilisations and cultures would mark the winter solstice with feasts and celebrations. This time of the year also marks the beginning of the astronomical winter, where the Earth’s north pole tilts farthest away from the Sun’s light. This is reversed in the astronomical summer in March when the Earth tilts furthest towards the Sun’s light.
The passing of the winter solstice and creating a measurement of the seasons was monumentally important to the everyday lives of the farmers and their families. During the long winter months and cold wet weather, crops would not grow and herds would become too expensive to feed. This led some to believe the winter solstice feasts where families would bring the last of their fruitful crops and bounties of meat products.
One theory for the existence of Stonehenge, according to English Heritage, is that Neolithic people constructed Stonehenge as a monument aligned to the movements of the Sun. By noting the position of the Sun behind specific stones, people were able to recognise the changing seasons throughout the year.
Traditionally, people from all over the world would gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice. These people would include neo-Druids, neo-Pagans, tourists and anyone who appreciates and wishes to partake in the celebrations. In previous years, people would gather at Stonehenge and watch the sunrise over the stones, celebrating the arrival of the sun and the promise of days getting longer.
The passing of the winter solstice and creating a measurement of the seasons was monumentally important to the everyday lives of the farmers and their families. During the long winter months and cold wet weather, crops wouldn’t grow and herds would become too expensive to feed. This led some to believe the winter solstice feasts where families would bring the last of their fruitful crops and bounties of meat products.
The Winter Solstice is scheduled to take place on the morning of Friday 22nd December 2023.
Only a select chosen number of groups are allowed within the stones at the discretion of English Heritage before the site is open to the public. This is a pre-arranged agreement between English Heritage and relevant tour groups and is not open to members of the public.
It is currently unsure if English Heritage will be live streaming the Winter Solstice live from their Facebook page. Previous year’s events were a resounding success, with spectators from around the world can watching the sunset and sunrise from the comfort of their homes.
Make sure to check English Heritage for regular updates.
Why not get a Winter Solstice Tour at Stonehenge and spend the sunrise inside the stone circle to witness the sunrise.
If you’re planning on visiting the stones for Winter Solstice, get in touch with us here at Brades Acre and book your pitch or holiday home, today.
When are the shortest days?
The precise moment of the winter solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere is on 22nd December 2023 at 3:27am. The shortest day lasts for 7 hours 49 minutes. The sun rises at 8:13am and sets at 4:05pm in the UK. This happens when the North Pole axis is furthest away from facing the sun. Daylight is at an absolute minimum. After the winter solstice, the days get progressively longer.
Is the winter solstice always 22nd December?
The winter solstice does not always fall 22nd December. It can fall between December 21st to 23rd each year because the Earth doesn’t perfectly obit the sun in a perfect circle, so there is some deviation in dates every year. Also, in the Gregorian calendar, the winter solstice may fall 20th, 21st, 22nd or 23rd December. However, the winter solstice always occurs in UK when the Northern Hemisphere is furthest away from the Sun.
What are the four yearly solstices?
Our planet’s seasons change on four separate days each year. In December, there is the winter solstice which is the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere.
In Spring, there is the Vernal Equinox which occurs when the sun crosses the Earth’s equator and situates itself above the equator perfectly between Northern and Southern Hemispheres. During the Spring equinox, day and night lengths are the same hours. The name ‘equinox’ is derived from this as the Latin word ‘equi’ means equal and ‘nox’ which means night. The Spring equinox signifies that there are more hours of daylight, and progressively less hours at night.
The summer solstice occurs around the 21st June each year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is when the UK receives the most hours of sunlight in a single day. At this time, the Sun is at it’s highest point of the year and Northern Hemisphere and UK will be pointed towards the Sun on Earth’s axis. As a result, the UK will experience more sunlight and warmer temperatures.
The Autumn Equinox occurs around September 23rd. Again, this occurs when the Sun passes over the equator, but this time marks the start of Autumn and the nights becoming longer than the day.
Need a place to stay?
Looking to book for the Winter Solstice book one of our Cabins/Hobbit Hole. If you’re not keen on camping but want to enjoy an alternative accommodation experience you can go book the Hobbit Hole! Brades Acre’s quirky and cute glamping pod, aptly named the Hobbit Hole in honour of those legendary inhabitants of Middle-Earth from the writings of JRR Tolkien, is highly sought after for weekend and overnight stays near Stonehenge.
If Middle-Earth isn’t your vibe, then why not relax in one of our log cabins! The log cabin sleeps four in a double bed and two singles, so it’s ideal for a small family get-away. It may feel like living in a fairy tale, but the mod-cons are all there, including a fridge and TV set. There’s even a porch where you can sit and enjoy some star-gazing.
Book now! https://bradesacre.co.uk/holiday-homes/