Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stonehenge Hosts Record Crowd for Summer Solstice

A record-setting 36,500 people were at Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice this past Sunday. Area roads were gridlocked and the main road (A303) was closed due to traffic. English Heritage, the company which runs Stonehenge, said some 6500 cars were parked in the designated visitors' area two hours before dawn. A 200 tent limit in the Avebury Ring was in place, following complaints by neighbors concerning the number of visitors in 2008. There were also more security guards and police than in previous years.

Celebrants danced to Druidic drums in the overcast dawn, while others participated in ceremonies to mark the event. English Heritage issued a warning about drug use (quoted) and limited alcohol to four cans of beer or one bottle of wine per person. Authorities said there would be a zero-tolerance approach to drug use and drunkenness, but only 37 arrests were made (mostly for drug possession and minor disorder). According to both spokespeople for the company and individual attendees, the event was "enjoyable" and everyone was in a "jovial mood."
Summer Solstice is not a good time to experiment with drugs - the crowd, the noise and the sheer size of the place are likely to make any bad reaction much, much worse.
The event has become more popular since a four-mile exclusion zone around Stonehenge was lifted four years ago.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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