5 Summer Solstice Events & Celebrations in the UK

Summer solstice events are a great way to celebrate that summer is well and truly here. There are plenty to choose from, with people gathering up and down the country on the longest day of the year. Read on as we explore what happens and pick out five of the best summer solstice celebrations the UK has to offer.

What exactly is summer solstice?

Summer solstice marks the ‘longest day’ of the year, accompanied by the ‘shortest night’. Of course, there’s no change to the usual 24 hours on the clock. It simply refers to the day which has the most hours and minutes of sunlight, and the night that follows.

Solstice comes from the words ‘sol’ and ‘sistere’, which mean sun and stand still, respectively. Reflecting this, the solstice is about taking a moment to consider the transition from days getting lighter to days getting darker. In that moment, you can celebrate what you’ve achieved in the past half-year and look forward to what the next six months holds.

For summer solstice celebrations, UK locations typically get between 16.5-17.5 hours of sunlight. In the northern hemisphere, it occurs on June 21st or June 20th each year. This date marks the middle of summer, or ‘midsummer’ for many countries. Traditionally, it’s been celebrated with themes of nourishment, fertility, brightness and power. Or maybe you just think it’s great that summer is here!

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that getting outdoors is the order of the day. Most summer solstice events revolve around the particularly early sunrise or particularly late sunset. However, there are also activities that simply involve traditional rituals throughout the day…

5 Summer solstice events


Sunrise at Stonehenge.

It will come as no surprise to see Stonehenge at the top of our list of summer solstice celebrations in the UK. The iconic stone circle in Wiltshire is open to the public for free on summer solstice day, when people gather to watch the sunrise. It’s believed that the stones were built with this in mind – aligning with the sunrise on solstice days.

Along with the Winter Solstice, it’s one of only two days of the year when you can see the stones up close. Normally, visitors are kept around 15 yards from the circle. It’s easily the most famous summer solstice event, with around 10,000 people gathering each year.

Durdle Door

Durdle Door at Sunset - kate & tom's Large Holiday Homes

Above all else, people want somewhere spectacular to see the sunrise on the longest day of the year. While Stonehenge might hold more cultural significance, Durdle Door certainly has the upper hand when it comes to natural beauty. Situated on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the unique limestone arch was formed by the power of the waves thousands of years ago.

Each year, people gather on the beach and hills to see the sunrise with the iconic stone arch in view. With the right position on the beach, you can see the sun rise directly through the door for a particularly iconic Instagram snap! Don’t stress too much about finding the right spot though – the sun rises pretty slowly, so you’ll have plenty of time to move around.

Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall - kate & tom's

If you want to get better acquainted with the traditional meaning of summer solstice celebrations, head to Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. The National Trust property comprises a wood-frame house with an iconic Tudor wood frame, plus a surrounding moat and knot gardens.

For the summer solstice, the Hall hosts midsummer celebrations in true Tudor style. The festival focuses on planting crops and creating decorations. There’s also live music with instruments from bygone years and puppet parades for all the family to enjoy.

Arbor Low or Castlerigg

 What things are there to do in the Lake District? - kate & tom's Large Holiday Homes

Who said Stonehenge is the only stone circle in the UK? If you’re based up north or just don’t fancy the huge Wiltshire crowds, there are other stone circles for a similarly spiritual summer solstice experience. Try saying that quickly!

Arbor Low is known as the Peak District’s Stonehenge, located just outside of Bakewell. Like Stonehenge, its origins aren’t completely confirmed – but it appears to be a ceremonial site, making it ideal for solstice in the summer. It’s situated on high moorland, meaning you can see the horizon for miles in every direction.

Or venture to Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria – around a mile and a half outside of Keswick. It’s made up of 38 stones, thought to hold ceremonial significance, but again with unknown origins. The unique selling point here are the beautiful Lake District Fells surrounding the stone circle, which you can explore after sunrise or in the days that follow your summer solstice celebrations.

Glastonbury Tor

 Featherstone Farm - kate & tom's Large Holiday Homes

While Glastonbury might be better known for its spiritual experiences of a different kind, the town is also home to one of the best summer solstice events. Around five miles away from the festival site, much closer to the town of Glastonbury, you’ll find Glastonbury Tor – a steep but moderately sized hill that rises 500 feet above the Somerset surroundings.

The hill itself has an unusual shape due to artificial terraces – the origins of which are unknown. Sensing a theme? This is also another summer solstice site with spiritual significance for both Pagans and Christians. That’s partly due to the tower of the church of St Michael, which sits at the top of the hill.

Enjoy the best summer solstice celebrations

From stone circles and beautiful landmarks to traditional Tudor homes, the UK has a variety of summer solstice events to choose from. Whichever you prefer, kate & tom’s can provide the luxury holiday home for a truly spectacular solstice getaway.

Our large houses sleep anywhere from 10 to 40+ guests in the most sought-after locations across England and Wales. That includes Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset in the south along with Cheshire, Cumbria and the Peak District in the north.

With hot tubs, swimming pools, tennis courts and games rooms to choose from, you can make summer solstice celebrations that little bit more special.