Newgrange Winter Solstice 2020

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 from the Roofbox illuminates the chamber
Sunbeam in the passage leading to Newgrange chamber.

OPW announces closure of Newgrange for Winter Solstice Sunrise

OPW Press Release 3rd December 2010

The Office of Public Works’ 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 hugely significant Solstice Sunrise event is to be live-streamed from within the Chamber.

However, the absence of visitors from the chamber at Newgrange has presented a unique opportunity to carry out research which would not have been possible in any other year.

Today, the Office of Public Works has announced details of a research project to be undertaken at the Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange with the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The archaeological research project is focussed on the Winter Solstice phenomenon at the 5,200 year old Newgrange monument. Over the coming weeks, either side of the Winter Solstice on 21/22 December, the movement of the winter sunlight coming through the roof box into the passage and chamber will be scientifically measured and monitored, to determine how the beam of dawn light interplays with the chamber as we move towards Solstice and then past it.

Speaking today Mr Patrick O’Donovan, T.D, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), said

“For operational reasons, the Office of Public Works has, regrettably, made the decision not to host the usual Winter Solstice event at Newgrange this year. I realise that this will come as a disappointment but at all times, the OPW has to be mindful of Government guidelines in relation to COVID-19 and the health and safety of our visitors is paramount. However, the absence of visitors from the chamber has presented us with a golden opportunity to carry out research with our colleagues from the National Monuments Service which would not have been possible in any other year."

Professor of Archaeology at UCC Michael J. O'Kelly, who directed excavations at Newgrange between 1962 and 1975 and who rediscovered the alignment at Newgrange to sunrise at Winter Solstice in 1967 said at the time that one should be able to see the sun in the chamber for about a week before and a week after 21 December.

Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD said

‘’We are delighted to be working with the OPW on this opportunity to better understand the Solstice phenomenon at Newgrange. The solstice has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth, of renewal as we look forward to the prospect of brighter days ahead, a prospect which this year has of course added meaning for us all”.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD said

“While we will not be able to gather at Newgrange this year I commend OPW colleagues for their efforts in making sure the Solstice phenomenon may still be experienced by those who continue the ancient tradition of celebrating it.’’

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. There will be security on sites to address any issues that arise and the co-operation of the public is greatly appreciated.

Happy Solstice!

Newgrange Solstice - 22nd December 2009

Solstice watchers waiting for the sun to rise
8:50am - Solstice watchers waiting for the sun to rise over Red Mountain.

Newgrange - Sunrise viewed from the entrance
8:54am - Sunrise viewed from the entrance to Newgrange over a standing stone.

Newgrange - Beam of light shining down the passage
8:56am - Beam of light shining through the roofbox, the sunbeam reaches the chamber at 8:58am.


8:59am - The sunbeam is illuminating the chamber through the 19 meter passage.

It's the sunbeam from the roofbox above the passage that reaches the chamber.
9:04am - It's the sunbeam from the roofbox above the passage that reaches the chamber.

Magnificent glow from the winter sunrise at Newgrange
9:09am - Magnificent glow from the winter sunrise at Newgrange.

Sunbeam from the Roofbox illuminates the chamber
9:10am - It's the higher sunbeam from the Roofbox that illuminates the chamber inside Newgrange.

Roofbox over the entrance where the solstice sun is beamed to the chamber
9:12am - The Roofbox over the entrance where the solstice sun is beamed to the chamber.

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 ...