Newgrange - Winter Solstice

Newgrange Winter Solstice

No access to Newgrange for Winter Solstice 2020 - The annual Winter Solstice gathering at the Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange on 21 December has been cancelled this year, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The Solstice Sunrise event will be live-streamed from within the Chamber.

Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is an opening called a roof-box. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the passage and chamber at sunrise around the Winter Solstice. At 8:58am 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. After 17 minutes the sunbeam leaves the chamber and retreats back down the passage.

When Newgrange was built over 5000 years ago, the winter solstice sunbeam would have made its way to the back recess of the central chamber. Due to changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis the sunbeam now stops 2 metres from the back recess.

Winter Solstice Dates

Solstice literally means 'Sun Stands Still', for a few days around the time of the winter solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky in that its elevation at noon does not seem to change.  More ...

Newgrange 2006 Newgrange Winter Solstice 2006

Images from the morning of the 21st December 2006. Joe & Clare won tickets in the winter solstice lottery for December 22nd, they were very fortunate to experience a glorious sunrise in the chamber at Newgrange.

Winter Solstice shadow I am very grateful to Anne-Maria Moroney who was at Newgrange on the 20th of December 2005 and has made these images available.

The sun didn't shine on the morning of the 21st December, the disappointment was eloquently described by Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times newspaper.

Newgrange Winter Solstice by Alan Betson Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004

Images from the actual morning of the winter solstice - 21st December 2004.

This image photographed from inside the chamber by Alan Betson was printed in the Irish Times newspaper on the 22nd December 2004.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004 Newgrange Winter Solstice 2004

Beautiful sunrise at Newgrange on the 19th December 2004.

Sun light in the passage at Newgrange viewed from the entrance.


Winter Solstice 2003 Newgrange Newgrange Winter Solstice 2003

The Winter Solstice sunrise illuminates the passage way leading into the burial chamber of the megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange on the 21st December 2003. This wonderful  photograph by Alan Betson was printed on the front page of The Irish Times newspaper on the 22nd December 2003.

Rainbow - Winter Solstice 2002 Newgrange Newgrange Winter Solstice 2002

Images from the Winter Solstice at Newgrange on the 22nd December 2002. A rainbow heightened the experience of those on the outside, as the fortunate few on the inside, selected by lottery experienced the illumination of the passage and chamber.

Newgrange Winter Solstice 2001 Newgrange Winter Solstice 2001

Solstice sunrise lets lucky few gaze through window to an ancient world.

Light at the end of the tunnel: the sun makes its way into the main chamber at Newgrange during the winter solstice, photography by Frank McGrath.

Solstice Collection
Winter Solstice at Newgrange by Alan Betson

Boyne Valley Private Day Tours

Boyne Valley 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  More ...