Wherever you are in the world you can experience the magic of Newgrange on December 20 and 21

Irish Tourism and the Office of Public Works have teamed up this year to insure that wherever people are, in Ireland or around the world, they can experience the magic of the winter solstice at Newgrange through a unique livestream from the ancient monument.

The state agencies' livestreams will run on Wednesday and Thursday (Dec 20 & 21) during the early mornings (from 8.30 GMT both days or 3:30 am EST). The livestream will be an opportunity for anyone who wishes to witness the unique winter Solstice moment.

Built by Stone Age farmers 5,200 years ago, Newgrange, which is in the Boyne Valley, is older than the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. The site is best known for the way the sun illuminates passage up the chamber on the shortest days of the year, around the winter solstice. Above the entrance to the passage is an opening called a roof-box.  On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19-metre (62') passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated.

Now a worldwide audience can witness this magic annual event, illustrating the genius of the Neolithic farmers.

Read more: The magic of the tombs at Newgrange on this day the winter solstice

Welcoming the initiative, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD said, “This is a fantastic way to share the unique magic of Newgrange with a much larger audience. It is also a great way to highlight the type of compelling history and heritage that Ireland offers as a destination.”

Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran added “Newgrange nestled in the Boyne Valley is an important historical site in Ireland's Ancient Heritage which attracted over 207,000 visitors in 2016.

“Our annual Winter Solstice Lottery received over 33,000 applications to witness this event with winners from as far as Austria, Italy, Switzerland and the United States of America, showing the continuing fascination the Solstice has the world over.”

Inside the passage tomb of Newgrange.

Inside the passage tomb of Newgrange.

How to watch

Interested viewers who subscribe in advance to the Ireland Ancient East YouTube Channel will get alerts and be prompted to tune in at the appropriate times. The livestream will also be embedded and available to watch on the Ireland’s Ancient East website on a special page which will also provide context within the wider ancient Ireland and the Boyne Valley story. 

Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Ireland’s Ancient East, Jenny De Saulles, today explained the importance of Newgrange for the tourism brand:

“The Newgrange site is one of the jewels in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East and we are delighted to be teaming up with the OPW to share its story with as wide an audience as possible. The history, heritage and the ancient atmosphere of Newgrange conjure up everything special about Ireland’s history and unique past and we are really happy to bring these elements to a wider audience.”

Will you be watching the winter solstice at Newgrange live?

Here's a clip from a National Geographic documentary:

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Newgrange, in County Meath.Tourism Ireland