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Summer Solstice 2014 Means There's More Hours In The Day To Get Arrested

21/06/2014 17:13 BST | Updated 08/07/2014 12:59 BST

More than 30,000 people have celebrated the summer solstice at Stonehenge - the first since a £27 million transformation of the site.

The summer solstice has a long tradition of drawing large crowds to monuments such as Stonehenge, where latter-day Druids gather to witness the sun rising on the longest day.

Wiltshire Police arrested 25 people at the Wiltshire site, mainly for "drug-related offences", with a further two arrests at solstice celebrations at Avebury stone circle.

But organisers were left with a busy afternoon of picking up litter after revellers left rubbish strewn across the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

summer solstice

Rubbish litters the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Stonehenge on the longest day of the year.

This year's event is the first summer solstice since English Heritage unveiled a new £27 million visitor centre, which opened in December last year following decades of planning.

Officers estimate it was attended by around 36,000 revellers - a large increase on the 21,000 who gathered to watch the sunrise last year.

Superintendent Gavin William, of Wiltshire Police, said: "We are pleased that the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge and Avebury have been enjoyable events for the majority of people attending. There were 25 arrests at Stonehenge and two at Avebury which were mainly for drug related offences.

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Summer Solstice 2014

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"The road system worked well with minimum delays and many people used the public transport as we advised people to do. Every year there are new challenges for us at Solstice but it is always a pleasure to see so many people enjoying the event.

"This year we estimate 36,000 people visited the stones throughout the night. There is always a small proportion of people who will try to break the law but I am satisfied that this was a successful policing operation and Wiltshire Police continue to facilitate a safe Solstice with our partners."

More than a million people flock to the popular ancient monument every year, with thousands attending ceremonies to mark the solstices in summer and winter.

summer solstice

The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge was estimated to have been attended by around 36,000 revellers

Work to "restore the dignity" of the monument as part of the £27 million project began in 2012, with a section of the A344 road - running past Stonehenge - permanently closed in June.

A visitor centre and exhibition, situated a mile-and-a-half west of the stones, was opened in December last year. These replaced a cramped car park and facilities, which were built in 1968.

The transformation project is the largest capital project ever undertaken by English Heritage.

Longest Day Of The Year Also One Of The Warmest

summer solstice

The longest day of the year was also one of the most glorious as Britons enjoyed temperatures of 24C (76F) - hotter than parts of Turkey.

Some 36,000 people descended on Stonehenge to catch the first light of the summer solstice, while sun-seekers flocked to Britain's beaches and parks to soak up the rays.

Most of the UK was bathed in warm, bright weather with the mercury soaring to 24.3C (76F) in Frittenden, Kent and was expected to peak at around 25C (77F) by the end of the day.

And the hot spell is set to last for the entire weekend, with Met Office forecasters predicting that it could heat up to 26C (79F) on Sunday.

Forecaster Steven Keates said: "It has been a dry, warm and really nice day. We have had glorious sunshine for much of the country, with the best of the sunshine on the south coast, although a sea breeze has kept it slightly cooler there.

weather

Racegoers enjoy the hot weather today during Day Five of the 2014 Royal Ascot Meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.

"It was a nice, sunny day for the solstice and it will be a pleasant evening.

"Sunday is expected to be fine and sunny, and temperatures will probably be a degree or so up on Saturday."

And there is a chance the mercury could peak at 27C in the south on Sunday - which would make it the joint hottest day of the year so far.

Mr Keates said a pool of high pressure off the west coast was to thank for Britain's warm and dry spell.

Britons making the most of the good weather were warned to take their hanky and allergy tablets as the pollen count is very high across the country.

The good weather is set to continue for the next few days, but Mr Keates said next week is a "week of two halves" and conditions will turn more unsettled toward the weekend - when around 200,000 revellers will descend on Glastonbury Festival.

There was good news for tennis fans as the weather was expected to be warm and dry for the start of Wimbledon on Monday.

But spectators might want to pack an umbrella as there is a risk of thundery showers in the afternoon or evening.

And festival goers travelling to Glastonbury Festival, which gets into full swing next Friday, were warned not to throw away their wellies just yet as there is a risk of showers over the weekend.

Mr Keates said: "There is an increased risk of rain. But it is not going to be a complete washout."