Each year on the Autumn Equinox Druids and Pagans gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Equinox and to see the sunrise above the stones.
It's an ad hoc celebration that brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travelers - usually about 100 people!
For many the impulse to arrive at Stonehenge in time for the Equinox is a little like all those people drawn to the strange rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's akin to a spiritual experience. Anyone who has witnessed the crowd become silent as the sky begins to brighten can attest to that. There will only be a handfull of people at the Equinox
This is the third of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal - 12 hours, as at Ostara, the Equinox. The Latin word for Equinox means 'time of equal days and nights'.
After this celebration the descent into winter brings hours of increasing darkness and chiller temperatures. It is the time of the year when night conquers day.
After the Autumn Equinox the days shorten and nights lengthen. To astrologers this is the date on which the sun enters the sign of Libra, the scales, reflecting appropriately the balanced day and night of the equinox. This was also the time when the farmers brought in their harvested goods to be weighed and sold.
Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.
The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and farmers would harvest their crops by then, as part of the second harvest celebration.
Mabon was when livestock would be slaughtered and preserved (salted and smoked) to provide enough food for the winter.
At the South Pole they will be celebrating the first appearance of the sun in six months. However, at the North Pole they will be preparing for six months of darkness.
During Medieval times, the Christian Church replaced Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations with Christianized occasions. The Autumn equinox celebration was Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael.
The small group 'non-obtrusive' nature of this tour means you can have a real athentic experience, a great photo opportunity and valuable insight into ancient Britain.
The exact time for the Autumn Equinox at Stonehenge 2016 is:
Wednesday - September 23rd 2017 @ 14.21 BST
Depart central London / Bath at approx 4.00am * September 23rd 2017. Mini Coach Travel to Stonehenge with guide and spend 1 - 2 hours inside the circle and witness the sun rising, Druid Ceremony and festivities. Back to London / Bath by 11am
* This time may vary depending on the access time granted by English Heritage
This is not like our traditional guided 'Private Access' tour. Although this tour is guided it does not visit other attractions and is not everyone's cup of tea, however those who do participate will never forget it and will surely 'tell the tale' for many years to come...... Please take the time to view our images / video of previous 'Equinox Tours'.
For those of you who have not visited this sacred site, we should mention that the complex is roped off. Visitors observe the stones from a distance and are not permitted within the temple complex..........our 'Autumn Equniox' tours allow you to be amongst the stones before the site is open to the general public.
N.B. With this exception English Heritage do not allow any other 'private access' tours during this period
Price: £ 99 (Includes return transport from London, guide services and entrance to Stonehenge)
English Heritage work works closely with agencies, and people from all sectors of the community, in order to create a peaceful occasion - ensuring an event that can be safely enjoyed by all and protects Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments..
Testimonials from previous 'Solstice'and 'Equinox' Tours
Going with a solstice veteran made all the difference - I would not have wanted to do it on my own. Peter really knew his stuff and took good care of us. Well done!
Conny - Boston
You promised a 'once in a lifetime experience' and that's exactly what we got - wow!
Mick and Narelle - Australia
The atmosphere was electric inside the inner circle - a real tribal gathering. It could have been 4000 years ago.
Phil - New Zealand
Highly recommended. If you want to see Stonehenge this is the way to do it! You only live once.........
Rickard and Anne - Sweden
The photos I took were 'award winning'. I managed to get next to the alterstone as the sun was rising. A perfect evening, see you next year. A big thank you to our guide.
Roberta - USA
We were going to take the train, bus, taxi etc but so glad we went with you guys. It worked out cheaper and allot less hassle, the kids loved it.
Casey and Family. Canada
We had the time of our lives but take my advice "Leave your inhibitions at home, let your hair down and go with the flow" I went to the Burning man Festival last year but nothing can beat Stonehenge at Solstice time....
Phil Gaymer - Florida