Newgrange Winter Solstice 2020
The Office of Public Works’ annual Winter Solstice gathering at the Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange
on 21st December has been cancelled this year, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
The hugely significant Solstice Sunrise event will be live-streamed
from within the Chamber, on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of December, so that everyone will be able to experience this wonderful phenomenon from any location around the world.
The live stream
will be available from 08:45 UTC, Sunday 20 December 2020.
Members of the public are advised not to travel to Newgrange on the morning of the Winter Solstice as access to the site will not be facilitated.
Sunbeam in the passage leading to Newgrange chamber.
Winter Solstice Webcast 2017
The Winter Solstice was live streamed from Newgrange on Wednesday December 20th and Thursday December 21st from
8.30am to 9.15am.
Winter Solstice Webcast 2007
Winter Solstice illumination at Newgrange was first was streamed live on the internet in 2007.
Victor Reijs has posted a six minute compilation on
of the one hour
OPW (Office of Public Works) streamed video.
The 2007 Winter Solstice webcast from Newgrange was
broadcast on the mornings of Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd December 2007. The
conditions were excellent on the morning of the 21st, the rising sun illuminated the passage and chamber
between 8:58am and 9:15am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). On the morning of
the 22nd the rising sun was blocked by a low bank of cloud, the sun cleared the
cloud by 9:30am, too late to illuminate the chamber.
The webcast and an exhibition at the
Brú na Bóinne
Visitor Centre celebrates
the 40th Anniversary of the re-discovery of the Winter Solstice Phenomenon
at Newgrange by Professor O’Kelly
is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the
Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a
roof-box. This baffling orifice held a great surprise for those who unearthed
it. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest
days of the year around the winter solstice.
At dawn, from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the
roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the
rear of the passage. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the
chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event
lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am.
Newgrange's accuracy as a time-telling device is remarkable when one
considers that it was built 500 years before the Great Pyramids and more
than 1,000 years before Stonehenge
. The intent of its builders was
undoubtedly to mark the beginning of the new year. In addition, it may have
served as a powerful symbol of the victory of life over death.
Each year the winter solstice event attracts much attention at Newgrange.
Many gather at the ancient tomb to wait for dawn, as people did 5,000 years
ago. So great is the demand to be one of the few inside the chamber during
the solstice that there is a free annual
(application forms are available at the Visitor Centre).
Unfortunately, as with many Irish events
that depend upon sunshine, if the skies are overcast, there is not much to
be seen. Yet all agree that it is an extraordinary feeling to wait in the
darkness, as people did so long ago, for the longest night of the year to end.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tours
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433
Setting Sun Alignments
The Winter Solstice Setting Sun illuminates the chamber at the nearby
the cairn on Slieve Gullion
in Co. Armagh.