STONEHENGE, England (AP) – Thousands of neo-Druids, New Age followers and the merely curious were flocking to Stonehenge on Saturday to await the sunrise over the prehistoric monument and celebrate the longest day of the year.

The ancient stone circle in southern England is the site of an annual night-long party – or religious ceremony, depending on perspective – marking the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice.

“They come for a complete range of reasons,” said archaeologist Dave Batchelor of English Heritage, the site’s caretaker.

The solstice is one of the few times during the year that visitors can get close enough to touch the rocks. With record numbers set to attend the free festival because it falls on a weekend, police officers are set to be on patrol.

Police closed the site in 1984 after repeated clashes with revelers. English Heritage began allowing full access to the site again in 2000 and the celebrations have been largely peaceful.

Last year 17 arrests were made for minor public disorder offenses.

English Heritage said revelers would only be allowed to bring in four cans of beer or a bottle of wine each, and advised that “illegal drugs are still illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else.”


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