UK's longest day of the year 2024 and how long will light nights last?

People walk in a field as the sun rises at Stonehenge on June 21, 2023 in Wiltshire, England.
-Credit: (Image: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)


With Scotland's weather finally starting to brighten, many will be wondering when they can look forward to the longest day of the year this summer.

According to the metrological calendar, which is specifically followed by weather experts, the warm season officially begins on June 1, lasting until August. But the astrological calendar, which is based on the positions of the sun and planets summer doesn't kick off until a few weeks later, when the summer solstice occurs.

This year's solstice is to fall on Thursday, June 20, a day earlier than 2023. Occurring twice a year, a solstice marks a transition between the seasons. In summer, this is seen as the longest day of the year, while winter sees the shortest day occur.

There can often be confusion surrounding what a solstice actually is, as many think of it as an entire day. Rather, it specifies a specific time of a day when a hemisphere is tilted closest or furthest from the sun.

However, while many may believe that a solstice refers to a whole day, it actually specifies a moment in time on that day, when the hemisphere in question is tilted closest or furthest from the sun. This year's summer solstice will take place at night, but this time can change, with last year's occurring at 4pm.

The word solstice stems from the the Latin words 'sol' (sun) and 'sistere' (to stand still), which makes sense as the sun seems to "stand still" on the horizon's rising and setting point.

Here's what to know about this year's summer solstice, including when it will take place this year.

When will the summer solstice in 2024 take place?

: Participants enjoy the sunrise at Stonehenge on December 22, 2021 in Amesbury, United Kingdom.
Many take to Stonehenge in England to mark the summer solstice -Credit:Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

According to the Royal Greenwich Museum, this year's solstice will fall at 9.51pm, with forecasters reporting sunrise at 04:26am on Thursday and sunset at 22:02pm. This means Scotland will enjoy 17 hours and 36 minutes of daylight, also resulting in the northern hemisphere's shortest night.

What is the summer solstice?

The summer solstice marks the first day of the season in the astronomical calendar, lasting until the beginning of the autumn equinox on September 23.

In Pagan times, the summer solstice marked time between planting and harvesting crops, giving farmers time to take rest before taking to the fields once again. Also called midsummer, days after the summer solstice begin to slowly get shorter, but this doesn't become noticeable until later in the winter months.

In contrast, the winter solstice falls on December 21, marking the shortest day of the year.

How to celebrate the summer solstice

The summer solstice has long been celebrated through history, with some traditions still practiced today.

The best place in Scotland to welcome the summer solstice on top of Ben Nevis, with walking groups organising overnight hikes on the country's tallest mountain.

Perhaps the most notable mark of the summer solstice is the gathering at Stonehenge in Wiltshire England, where Druids and Pagans would enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the 5,000 year old monument.

According to the British Museum, the famous stone circle was built to carefully align with the sun's movements. Standing in the centre of the monument on midsummer’s day, the sun rises just to the left of the outlying Heel Stone to the north-east and the first rays of the day shine into the heart of Stonehenge.

Even today, thousands still gather at Stonehenge every year to view take in the beautiful spectacle.

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