When I was on my way back from the North Cape, I passed Stonehenge just in time to witness the summer solstice celebrations. I checked into a guesthouse in Salisbury, locked my bike securely at a fence and went out to see what everything was all about. The summer solstice at Stonehenge, you see, is a pretty major event.
Experience the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Dozens of buses commuted between the ancient stones and the Salisbury city center and the police were managing traffic and checking for illegal substances. The entire site was fenced off and there were food and drinks stalls near the entrance. Entrance was free, by the way. The summer solstice at Stonehenge is the only time of year when Stonehenge is free to visit and when you’re in fact allowed to walk between the stones, touch them and even sit on them.
I loved everything about that night.
There were about 15,000 people, from families with children to groups of teenagers and witches and wizards. Yes, actual witches! The summer solstice is one of the annual highlights of the nature religion called Wicca. For surprisingly many people that is a huge deal. I could relate to them completely. I can totally understand why people would celebrate the sun, because the sun is essential to almost all life on earth.
This was by far the most peaceful and relaxed event I have ever been to. The atmosphere at Stonehenge that night felt almost spiritual – and I’m usually not prone to those kinds of things. People were dressed up as knights, wizards and in every color imaginable. Other people were playing on the guitar or on drums, or singing songs.
I watched a spectacular sunset, hung around for a bit and headed back to the city. I didn’t want to wait until sunrise, which is when the actual summer solstice happens, because I had some cycling to do and train to catch to following day.
left a huge impression on me and, on the bus back to Salisbury that night, I felt humbled to have experienced it.
Even now, one and a half years later, I’d still say that it is one of the travel highlights of my life.