Every year thousands gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, on June 21 to greet both the longest day of the year and the start of summer. As the sun rises behind Stonehenge's Heel Stone, casting rays of light shine into the center of the monument, the gathered crowd traditionally cheers. This year, however, the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has meant the summer solstice will be met with silence at Stonehenge as the site remains closed to visitors. Instead, the famous prehistoric monument is planning to welcome guests another way: virtually. For the first time ever, you'll be able to watch the summer solstice at Stonehenge from home.
"We can't welcome you in person this year because of the measures in place to combat coronavirus," English Heritage, the charity that cares for more than 400 of England's historic landmarks, including Stonehenge, wrote on a Facebook page promoting the virtual event. "But our live coverage of sunset and sunrise means you won't miss a moment of this special occasion. Our cameras will capture the best views of Stonehenge, allowing you to connect with this spiritual place from the comfort of your own home."
To mark the summer solstice, English Heritage will broadcast both the sunset on June 20 and the sunrise on June 21 live over Facebook. Those who wish to catch the event are encouraged to follow the charity's Facebook page and set their clocks for 9:26 p.m. and 4:52 a.m. BST, respectively. English Heritage has said it expects to be live on Facebook for at least 30 minutes before both sunset and sunrise to give viewers time to settle in before the real "show" begins.
"You don't need to be in the UK to enjoy this year's summer solstice," English Heritage wrote on the event's Facebook page. "With our live stream, you can watch from anywhere in the world."
Across their social media channels, English Heritage noted they had spoken with local emergency services as well as the druid and pagan community before reaching their decision to make this year's summer solstice a virtual-only event.
Thankfully, viewers outside the United Kingdom who find the event's "showtimes" fall at odd or inconvenient hours in their own timezone can tune in later for a replay. English Heritage has promised to save its summer solstice live streams as videos shared to its Facebook page, enabling users to watch it again at their own convenience.
And although nothing beats watching the sunset or sunrise live and in-person, English Heritage has urged everyone to steer clear of Stonehenge for the time being. "Please, to help keep everyone safe, do not travel to Stonehenge for summer solstice this year," the charity urged over Facebook. "We look forward to welcoming you in person at next year's event."
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