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Event | News

Summer Solstice Week 2023

Home | Event | Summer Solstice Week 2023


Arts and Science meet for this week-long extravaganza

Crawick Multiverse, nestled in the hills between Kirkconnel and Sanquhar, will be the spectacular setting for Summer Solstice Week celebrations in Dumfries and Galloway from Sunday 18th to Saturday 24th June 2023.

Following a fantastic event in 2022, where crowds gathered to experience the first moments of sunrise and to mark the Summer Solstice, The Crawick Multiverse Trust and The Open University (OU) in Scotland will this year co-host an extended programme of Summer Solstice events with a focus on recognising the artistic, scientific and cultural significance of the Summer Solstice.

For those who haven’t visited before, Crawick Multiverse is a former open-cast coal mine on the border of Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire, and was transformed into an artland by the late Charles Jencks. It boasts giant conical mounds representing colliding galaxies, a long avenue of standing stones and other spectacular features and is open to the public 7 days a week throughout the summer.  It’s the perfect place to enjoy a stroll and a picnic, to walk the dog and to take in the stunning views of Upper Nithsdale.

Summer Solstice Week events will begin at Crawick Multiverse on Sunday 18th June with an Over the Moon family-friendly open day from 10am to 6pm, featuring tours by popular tour guide Kathleen Cronie, self-guided Sensory Mapping Tours facilitated by Dr Lindsay Crisp from the OU and an interactive talk about living on the moon by OU Professor in Planetary Science and Exploration, Mahesh Anand. Guests can also enjoy a Soapbox Science workshop exploring energy and the environment with Stephen Peake, OU Professor in Climate Change and Energy. It promises to be a great day out for all the family.

Events will continue into the evening on Sunday 18th with the launch of Solstice Seminars; a programme of engaging talks and fascinating artefacts from OU professors Monica Grady CBE, Stephen Peake and Mahesh Anand. The evening entitled ‘The Sun and The Moon’ will take place in Sanquhar Town Hall and will be hosted by Heather Reid, BBC Scotland’s chief weather forecaster and presenter. This is a rare opportunity to hear from leading specialists in space science, planetary science, climate change and energy. Doors open and refreshments available from 5.45pm.

Monday 19th will see secondary pupils explore Crawick Multiverse. They will also be inspired by OU Professors Stephen Peake and Monica Grady to Reach for the Stars in an afternoon assembly held at Sanquhar Academy and supported by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Dumfries and Galloway. Later in the day Prof Peake will also inspire local teachers, with a professional learning session at A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre. This will be an OU-led informal storytelling session focused on teaching forces, energy and electricity and supported by DYW Dumfries and Galloway.

Celebrations will continue at Crawick Multiverse, on what will be the longest day – Wednesday 21st June, starting with an early morning Sunrise Ceremony at 4am, led by OU Professor of Religious Studies, Graham Harvey and supported by OU Lecturer in Religious Studies, Liudmila Nikanorova and professional storyteller and educator, Gordon MacLellan.

Throughout the Solstice Day, visitors to Crawick Multiverse will be able to engage in a range of activities including self-guided sensory tours and guided tours led by Kathleen Cronie. Visitors can also participate in yoga sessions led by Becky Rose Yoga, a Tai Chi demos and a Qigong workshop from Shining Cloud Tai Chi School and enjoy a energetic performance from Motiv8 Dance Group.

Local primary schools will also take part in drumming workshops led by musician Mat Clements and storytelling sessions by environmental storyteller Gordon Maclellan, while OU Associate Lecturer, Suzi Collins will run a hands-on ethics-based workshop entitled ‘The Planet Problem: Only YOU can Save the Galaxy’.

Professor Graham Harvey will also deliver a short talk about the cultural and religious significance of solstice ceremonies now, and in the past, while colleague Dr Liudmila Nikanorova will share her experience of solstice celebrations including Yhyakh, where thousands of people gather to celebrate summer solstice in the Sakha Republic (Russia).

As we approach the moment in the year when the sun is at its highest, guests will be treated to entertainment from local musicians and performers including world-class Scottish Harpist Wendy Stewart and popular Cairn Chorus Community Choir.

Everyone will gather at the amphitheatre at 3.57pm on the 21st for a Tilt Ceremony to mark the moment when the sun is at its maximum tilt. Many of the contributors will come together to play their part in the ceremony; including young people from Sanquhar and Kelloholm Primary schools who will demonstrate their newly mastered drumming skills. The site will remain open until 6pm for visitors to relax and reflect on their day at The Multiverse.

Graham Harvey, Professor of Religious Studies, at The Open University said:

 “We will meld elements of Scottish, British, Scandinavian and diverse Indigenous cultural traditions – with musical and poetic contributions – into ceremonies that honour the fact that all life on Earth flows from the generosity of Earth and Sun. Something everyone can celebrate. I am eagerly anticipating celebrating both dawn and ‘tilt’ at the Crawick Multiverse with as many people as join us.”

A Midsummer’s Day Family Picnic at Crawick Multiverse will bring the Summer Solstice Week celebrations to a close on Saturday 24th June from 10am to 6pm. Visitors will be able to explore the site and browse the Baron Thyssen Centre Exhibition – a small photo exhibition of objects connected with ancient summer festivals. Visitors can also participate in storytelling and crafts and enjoy an informal afternoon of midsummer entertainment from local stars and performers. Performers will include representatives from the local community choir, Burns club, and Sanquhar and District Silver Band.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic or to pre-order a picnic box from one of the many local cafes, hotels, tearooms and bakers supporting the events of the week. (See website for details). Snacks and refreshments can also be purchased from The Coalface Visitor Centre at Crawick Multiverse.

Cathy Agnew, Trustee, The Crawick Multiverse Trust said:

“We’re thrilled to be inviting visitors and locals to our unique space at Crawick to mark the Summer Solstice in whatever way they choose.  We believe the site and the spectacular surrounding countryside lends itself perfectly for visitors to celebrate the Solstice, alone or with their friends and family. We are delighted to be co-hosting the whole community programme with The Open University in Scotland and to be working closely with local schools, businesses and venues to ensure the wider community are very much part of the celebrations. We are also grateful to DYW Dumfries and Galloway and The Barfil Community Trust for their support of the programme.”

Derek Goldman, Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager at The Open University in Scotland added:

“We are delighted to be co-hosting the Solstice Week celebrations at Crawick this year. The Multiverse is a stunning and unique site which brings together the wonders of art and science. With students across the whole of Scotland – including 2,900 in South Scotland – The Open University is pleased to be delivering talks and workshops in the programme with some of our leading experts in space science and the arts, as part of our cultural and community engagement work across Scotland.”

To find out more and to purchase tickets for any of the events taking place during Summer Solstice Week at Crawick Multiverse 2023 visit: or take a look at our full programme below:

Credit: Mike Bolam Photography and contributors.

This project is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Union – LEADER 2014-2020 programme
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