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20 Nov 2011

Celebrate Solstice

Winter Solstice, this year celebrated on 22nd December, marks the shortest day of the year and the official return of the sun. Before the advent of electric light, this would have been the source of much rejoicing and there are many celebrations linked to fire and light throughout the winter, including Christmas.

This is the perfect time to create a unique family ritual. Write down your hopes and aspirations for the coming year, and then write down what habits/feelings/relationships you feel it is time to let go of. You can then burn these in a special solstice fire, either in your garden or in the hearth. Prepare some warming solstice food and light candles to give thanks for the return of the light. See our article on solstice ritual by herbalist Fiona Heckels for more ideas. Or get outside and join others in the many light festivals around the country.

Winterlight at Burnham Beeches, South Buckinghamshire Celebrate both Solstice and Christmas a little early on Sunday 18th December in this ancient woodland. Full details will be posted in December but will include carols at 2pm and 3pm, mince pies, a nativity play and an evening lantern procession to the Iron Age hill fort.

Corfe Castle, Wareham It’s not cheap but it will be a pretty magical experience to watch the sun rise on the shortest day of the year from these 1,000 year old castle ruins. Castle opens at 7.15am and £10 ticket includes a hot drink and breakfast bun. Maybe one to share with older kids for a special treat (pictured).

Caerphilly River of Light Parade See the streets come to life on Friday 23rd December as hundreds of children parade through Caerphilly town centre accompanied by music, samba and drumming, followed by a fireworks display at Caerphilly Castle.

Huddersfield Festival of Light Not strictly Solstice as this falls on 2nd-4th December but it’s a fantastical celebration of light! A weekend filled with free street theatre, live performances and installations – including a magical garden of giant illuminated flowers – and a firework finale.

Burning The Clocks, Brighton A wonderful community celebration on 21st December, combining a family solstice parade with an exciting fire show and fireworks display. A procession of paper and willow lanterns makes its way through the city centre, and all are burnt on Brighton beach as a token for the end of the year. Lantern-making workshops are held in Brighton during December.

Winter Solstice Feast, St Fagans Museum, Cardiff Celebrate the turning of the seasons on 17th and 18th December at this exciting open air museum in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle. Join their Iron Age interpreter by the fire to smell the prehistoric recipes bubbling in the cauldron, ready for the Winter Solstice Feast.

Lucy Corkhill is a freelance writer and hosts art and writing workshops from her windswept cliff-top home. She worked for many years as a therapist specialising in pregnancy, birth and the post-natal period. She lives with her husband, their two year old son, a dog, three cats and loads of spiders.

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