Summer Solstice

The summer solstice is the largest and most well-known of all the four annual periods of Managed Open Access (MOA). Each year access is granted on the night of the 20th and the morning of the 21st June. This 'established' date of MOA happens irrespective to any slight variation as to when the astronomical timing of the solstice may fall. The next summer solstice will be held on the night of Wednesday 20th and the morning of Thursday 21st June 2018

Summer solstice generalised running order 20th / 21st June

  • 13:00 Last fee paying visitors enter the site
  • 15:00 Stonehenge closes for regular visitors
  • 18:30 First bus from Salisbury station and town centre to Stonehenge visitor centre drop-off point
  • 19:00 Car park opens (£15 charge) and free access to the stones begins (walk to the stones from the car park up to 1.5miles 25-30mins)
  • 21:26 SUNSET
  • 22:15 Approximate end of dusk light
  • 04:00 First bus back to Salisbury and approximate beginning of dawn light
  • 04:52 SUNRISE (Druid ceremony by the Heel Stone just before dawn)
  • 06:00 Last admission to the car park
  • 08:00 End of access
  • 09:45 Last bus back to Salisbury
  • 12:00 Solstice car park closes
  • Site usually reopens on the following day
  • Times of access subject to official confirmation
  • If staying all night, I would recommend that you bring a knapsack containing a drink, some snacks and a small umbrella if it rains

Short documentary on the 2016 summer solstice

 Table of past summer solstice celebrations
 Year  Attendance  Days of the week  Weather report  Notes 
 2018    Wed night / Thurs morn    
 2017  13,000  Tues night / Wed morning  Fairly clear  Hot weather, security issues lead to armed guards. Glasto starts Wed aft.
 2016  12,000  Mon night / Tues morning  Fairly clear  Full moon, introduction of an alcohol ban & parking charges, Euro football
 2015  23,000  Sat night / Sun morning  Fairly clear  Sun breaks thru' the cloud just after 04:52, lower than expected crowd
 2014  37,000  Friday night / Sat morning  Fairly clear  First year since opening of the new visitor centre
 2013  21,000  Thurs night / Fri morning  Grey cloud  BBC Sky at Night film a 'Solstice Special' at the stones
 2012  14,500  Wed night / Thurs morn  Heavy rain  The Ancestor sculpture returns, heavy rain all night
 2011  18,000  Mon night / Tues morning  Rain and cloud  Heavy rain dampens proceedings
 2010  20,000  Sun night / Mon morning  Reasonably clear  BBC History film the celebrations (see below clip). Access now from 19:00
 2009  36,500  Sat night / Sun morning  Brighter later  First celebration held on a Saturday night, record crowd
 2008  36,290  Friday night / Sat morning  Cloudy  New record crowd, opening times change again (20:00 to 08:00)
 2007   24,093  Wed night / Thurs morn  Overcast  Altered and extended opening times (20:30 to 08:00)
 2006  18,700  Tues night / Wed morning  Rain and cloud  Many arrive late due to England playing Sweden in the World Cup
 2005  23,000  Mon night / Tues morning  Clear  King's Drummers parade a red effigy
 2004  21,000  Sun night / Mon morning  Misty  A Transit of Venus occurred earlier in the month on 6th June
 2003  30,000  Sat night / Sun morning  Clear sunrise  First modern MOA to be held on a Saturday night
 2002  23,000  Thurs night / Fri morning  Rain  Many leave early due to England playing Brazil in the World Cup
 2001  14,500  Wed night / Thurs morn  Initial cloud cover  Access times extended to eleven hours (23:00 to 09:00)
 2000  6,000  Tues night / Wed morning  Rain  First year of MOA with eight hours of access (23:30 to 07:30)
 1999  1,000  Monday morning    Ticketed access for 150 people, but many more get in unofficially
 1997        Full moom on eve of the solstice (20th June)
 1988        A major police operation to keep people out ends in a small riot
 1985        Battle of the Beanfield
 1984  40,000      Last year of the Free Festival
  • Notes
  • The average attendance for summer solstice MOA gatherings (2000 to 2016) is just under 22,250
  • The lowest attendance for the modern MOA celebrations occurred in the year 2000 when 6,000 people turned up. The lowest attendance since then occurred in 2016 (12,000) following the introduction of parking charges and the alcohol ban
  • The highest attendance occurred in 2014 (37,000)
  • There have only been around six clear / resonably clear sunrises since 2000
  • Since the opening of the new Visitor Centre in December 2013 the annual number of visitors at Stonehenge has grown considerably to around 1.25 million, therefore taking an average of 22,000 for the summer solstice and about 3,000 for the winter solstice and equinox dawn gatherings combined, this would provide a figure of 25,000 (2.5%) or an approximate total of around 1 in 40 of all visitors attending MOA events
  • A actual full moon coinciding with the night of the celebrations (i.e. 20th June) is quite rare. Apart from the Strawberry Full Moon in 2016, you will have to wait until 2035 & 2054 for the next ones. The last full moons coinciding with the 20th June were in 1974 & 1997. Although, over the years full and new moons do occur on the many of the nights around the 20th.
Neil Oliver presents a short clip about the 2010 summer solstice from BBC History