For the first time since 2003, visitors rising early on the morning of the summer solstice were greeted by the striking sun rising among the ancient ruins of Stonehenge, deep in the English country. The location is a local favorite, and each year, it is blessed with thousands who arrive before the sun to see it make its grand entrance.
A famous attraction, visitors were pleased to know that the event was one of the most successful in recent years. 2003 was the last year with a clear, visible sunrise – other years were plagued by fog and clouds, which considerably marred the visibility of the grand event. Regulars were quick to assert that the event was both safe and one-of-a-kind. Only a handful of people were arrested on drug offenses, something that has come to be expected of such celebrations.
An English Heritage member, Peter Carson, asserted that the event was both successful and very manageable. 20,000 people were present at this years event, while 2009’s had a striking 35,000 attendees. He also attributed the lower head count to the day on which the solstice happened to land. “I think the days of the week do make a considerable difference to the number of people who come along – this year it’s a Monday morning. The people who are streaming out now – a lot of them are going to work.”
The event seems to be more than simply a way to watch the sun rise. Many who attended attributed their fascination with the solstice as a way to commemorate and honor “being British and following our pagan roots.” To some, it was simply a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Many, who would later be returning to such metropolises as London and Oxford, attested that “getting away from the city” was a large factor in their participation.