Happy Summer Solstice - thousands gather to celebrate longest day

People gathering at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice.
People gathering at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice.

Thousands of people got up early to celebrate the start of the longest day.

Today is the Summer Solstice and it has started with a beautiful morning.

Crowds gathered at Stonehenge to mark the day and cheered the rise of the sun.

Those who observed the spectacle at the neolithic Wiltshire monument were blessed with clear skies as the sun glinted over the horizon at 4.52am.

English Heritage tweeted that it was the "perfect morning for the #SummerSolstice sunrise at Stonehenge".

Up to 25,000 people attended the overnight celebration of the longest day of the year at the World Heritage Site.

On the Summer Solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

Jennifer Davies, English Heritage's head of historic properties for Stonehenge, had asked for those attending to "respect the stones".

Visitors were urged to only take small bags and alcohol was not permitted.

Wiltshire Police officers were also on hand at the event and armed officers were attending as "a precaution only".