Newgrange winter solstice to be live-streamed again this year

Witness this County Meath passage tomb fill with light from the comfort of your own home this winter solstice.

No visitors will be allowed into Newgrange this winter solstice as the Office of Public Works (OPW) has decided to live-stream the natural phenomenon again this year.

This is the second year the OPW have decided to cancel the lottery for the sought after tickets to witness the winter solstice at Newgrange.

The winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the year’s shortest day and the longest night. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on 21 or 22 December. On these dates, the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn.

The winter solstice was one of the most important celebrations in the pre-Christian world. Across the globe, many ancient cultures celebrated the shortest day of the year where the sun appeared to stand still.

Previous years – tickets allocated by a lottery

Winter solstice at Newgrange to be live-streamed again this year.
Credit: Flickr / Seán Doran

The lottery draw is the usual process used to choose the successful participants. Winners are entitled to be in the chamber during sunrise for each of the solstice mornings. Usually, 30 people would enter the tomb to witness this event.

However, due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, the OPW decided to live-stream the event over three days. Thus, allowing thousands of people from all over the world to watch.

Due to its phenomenal success last year, the hugely significant solstice sunrise event will once more be live-streamed from within the chamber.

This will allow everyone to experience this wonderful phenomenon from the comfort of their homes in locations throughout the world.

Researching the winter solstice at Newgrange – an opportunity for understanding

The phenomenon can be witnessed on 21 or 22 December.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The continued absence of visitors from the chamber at Newgrange presents the OPW with an additional opportunity to further their research project with the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage.

Their research will involve tracking, measuring, and monitoring the movement of the winter sunlight coming through the roof box into the passage and chamber.

This information will then be used to determine how the beam of dawn light interplays with the chamber as the solstice comes and goes.

What’s so special about Newgrange? – discover ancient magic

Winter solstice at Newgrange is a truly incredible sight.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Newgrange is a testament to the importance of the winter solstice. It was built with the precise alignment with the rising sun of this solstice.

Thus, at sunrise on the shortest day of the year, for 17 minutes, direct sunlight enters the Newgrange monument.

The sun’s rays pass into the passage tomb through a specially contrived opening above the entrance called the ‘roof box’. This light then illuminates the chamber of Newgrange in a dramatic display of 5,000-year-old Stone Age engineering.

The sunlight illuminates the entirety of the 62 ft (18.9 m) long passage, including the walls and ceiling. Beams of sunlight also light up the spiral carvings for which Newgrange is renowned.

How to watch – witness the magic for yourself

Watch the light flood Newgrange Passage Tomb.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

If you want to witness the magic of Newgrange at winter solstice, keep an eye on the Newgrange website here.

Further details of the live-stream event from within the chamber on the solstice mornings in December will be revealed in the coming weeks.

You can also find out all about the history of this County Meath passage tomb and the people who built it.

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