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Stonehenge summer solstice celebrations canceled due to pandemic

English Heritage, the organization which manages the site in Wiltshire, southwestern England, has said it will instead live stream the event, which is of spiritual significance to many pagans and druids.

Announcing the cancellation on social media Tuesday, English Heritage said: “For everyone’s safety and wellbeing, we’ve had to cancel this year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. We know how special this occasion is to so many of you, and we’ll be live streaming it for free online.”

The organizers added that the decision was taken to cancel the event, which takes place on or around June 21, after consultation with the emergency services, plus the druid and pagan community.

 A security guard patrols around closed Stonehenge on March 20.

A security guard patrols around closed Stonehenge on March 20.

Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

A statement released by English Heritage said the decision was taken in line with the current ban on mass gatherings in the UK.

Stonehenge has been inaccessible to the public since March 18.

Nichola Tasker, director of Stonehenge, said in a statement: “Given the sheer number of major events worldwide which have already been cancelled across the summer, from Glastonbury to the Olympics to Oktoberfest, I doubt this will come as a huge surprise, but we know how much summer solstice at Stonehenge means to so many people.

“We have consulted widely on whether we could have proceeded safely and we would have dearly liked to host the event as per usual, but sadly in the end, we feel we have no choice but to cancel.”

Stonehenge has been associated with the Northern Hemisphere’s summer and winter solstices since its inception.

Gathering at the site on the summer solstice is an age-old tradition that thousands still observe. About 10,000 people flock to the ancient site annually to mark the longest day of the year.

As dawn breaks, the rising sun appears behind one of the main stones, creating the illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone.

This is not the first time that the summer solstice has been beamed online. A Stonehenge Skyscape was launched last year to allow people to experience their own “personal Stonehenge sunrise” all year round.

CNN’s Rob Picheta contributed to this report.

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