<p><strong>Undaunted by Tuesday's dreary skies, a Druid at the <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/united-kingdom-guide/">United Kingdom</a>'s ancient <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Stonehenge">Stonehenge</a> monument prayerfully greets the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice. This first day of summer and longest day of the year has long been observed by cultures worldwide.</strong></p><p>At Stonehenge, celebrants in the center of the standing stones can still watch the summer solstice sun rise over the Heel Stone, just outside the stone circles. (Read about<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1031_021031_Stonehenge.html"> pagans' campaign to enter Stonehenge on the summer solstice</a> and other sacred days.)</p><p>This year British Druids celebrated the solstice for the first time as members of an officially recognized religion, following a controversial vote by the national<a href="http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/"> Charity Commission for England and Wales</a> last fall.</p><p>(<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/07/06/photogalleries/solstice-photos/">Pictures: Summer Solstice Marked With Fire, Magic [2008].</a>)</p><p><em>—With reporting by Ker Than</em></p>

Dawn of the Druids

Undaunted by Tuesday's dreary skies, a Druid at the United Kingdom's ancient Stonehenge monument prayerfully greets the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice. This first day of summer and longest day of the year has long been observed by cultures worldwide.

At Stonehenge, celebrants in the center of the standing stones can still watch the summer solstice sun rise over the Heel Stone, just outside the stone circles. (Read about pagans' campaign to enter Stonehenge on the summer solstice and other sacred days.)

This year British Druids celebrated the solstice for the first time as members of an officially recognized religion, following a controversial vote by the national Charity Commission for England and Wales last fall.

(Pictures: Summer Solstice Marked With Fire, Magic [2008].)

—With reporting by Ker Than

Photograph by Kieran Doherty, Reuters

Summer Solstice Pictures: Fire, Druids, Lasers, Llamas

See how the world welcomed the first day of summer 2011: lasers strafed Paris dancers, burned llama fetuses were borne aloft, and more.

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