Winter Solstice at Newgrange

Monday 21 December 2015

Venue: Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre

The annual Winter Solstice sun show at Newgrange is a world famous event. Five thousand years ago the Neolithic builders of the monument ingeniously engineered it so that sunlight could enter the vaulted chamber at dawn at the Winter Solstice. On clear Solstice mornings, the chamber at the end of the passage is fully illuminated and bathed in a wonderful golden glow.

Professor Michael O'Kelly re-discovered this phenomenon at Newgrange during his excavations of the site. On December 21, 1967, he was the first person in millennia to see the light of the rising sun illuminate the inner chamber of the 5,000-year-old tomb. Almost fifty years later, the Winter Solstice at Newgrange has become a huge, international event attracting attention from all over the world.

Sunrise on the shortest days of the year begins at 08:58 and the light shines into the chamber for 17 minutes. The Office of Public Works opens the monument for the dawn from December 18 until December 23 and general admission on those mornings is free of charge.

As there were 30,532 applications from the public to be inside the chamber at Newgrange during Winter Solstice 2014, access is decided by lottery. Of course, a large crowd always gathers to stand on the outside of the monument to mark the event and visitors can expect a festive and anticipatory atmosphere regardless of the weather.