Winter Solstice in Newgrange

Newgrange during the Winter Solstice.

By Irish America Staff
February / March 2015

There were 30,532 entries for a lottery to experience Winter Solstice 2014 at Newgrange in Co. Meath. Fifty names were drawn, and each of those fifty people were invited along with a guest to gather at dawn (8:58 a.m.) from December 18th to December 23rd.

Newgrange is the best known Irish passage tomb and dates to around 3200 B.C. At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st) and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof box.

To the Neolithic culture of the Boyne Valley, the winter solstice marked the start of the New Year – a sign of nature’s rebirth, promising renewed life to crops, animals and humans. It may also have served as a powerful symbol of the inevitable victory of life over death, perhaps promising new life to the spirits of the dead.

Those of you thinking you may want to enter the lottery next year can fill out an application form in Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre when you visit Newgrange. If you don’t think you’ll make it to Ireland before the drawing deadline, you can also email your postal address, a contact telephone number, and an indication whether or not you have ever visited Newgrange. Upon receipt, a member of staff will complete an application on your behalf. Applicants must be over 10 years of age and an adult must accompany anyone under 18. Only applications on the official form can be entered into the draw.

The drawing for places at Newgrange for Solstice 2015 will take place on September 25, 2015. Children from three local schools will choose the winning applicants. The successful people will be notified by mid October.

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One Response to “Winter Solstice in Newgrange”

  1. Hi. I’m in the process of developing a new website ( on Newgrange and came across your article while doing some research.
    I agree that the chances of being chosen in the winter solstice lottery are slim. However, visitos can visit the chamber at any other time and experience it firsthand. The interpreative centre has a lot of material to show what its like to be inside the chamber at the solstice.
    I’m a local, living only a few miles from the tomb, and I’ve never been fortunate enough to be chosen but your readers may be interested in a website that lets you explore the tomb virtually and also view 3d images.
    It also includes many other attractions and is really worth viewing.
    I hope you enjoy.


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