There’s a new day dawning at Stonehenge, the rural English prehistoric monument where thousands gather annually to witness the Summer Solstice sun rise over the massive stones. Due to COVID-19 health precautions, the English Heritage agency has announced that there will be no pilgrimage this year—instead, the sunrise will be live streamed via social media.
Nichola Tasker, the director of Stonehenge, said, “We have consulted widely on whether we could have proceeded safely and we would have dearly liked to host the event as per usual, but sadly in the end, we feel we have no choice but to cancel. We hope that our live stream offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year." Tasker is referring to the thousands of visitors who show up the night before the June 21 or 22nd sunrise to cheer as day breaks. On clear mornings, it’s a stunning sight: The sun rises over the carefully aligned stones (which weigh up to 25 tons and stand as high as 30 feet tall) and flood light into the center of the stone arrangement. Usually there's a fair amount of people clad in flowing robes paying homage to the pagan Druid sect that is believed to have built Stonehenge as a place of worship, as well as wreath headresses (the date commemorates the first harvest as well).
To capture the magic of this proto-Coachella of flower crowns and fanciful costuming, join English Heritage's Facebook starting the night of Saturday, June 20 at 8:30 PM UTC+1 hour (convert to your local time here). Then, enjoy the stars (or the pitch dark) until approximately 5:30 AM UTC+1 on Sunday morning, when you’ll observe light peeking up and over the 93 stones. As day waxes on, continue to bask in the brilliance of Stonehenge by watching This is Spinal Tap, the Rob Reiner-directed mockumentary that hilariously shows a rock ’n’ roll band’s obsession with a certain pile of stones.