Newgrange - Be There on the Solstice

Newgrange Passage Tomb Entrance - Boyne Valley - Ireland

According to Mary Gibbons, Newgrange is the oldest building in the world that is completely intact. True, this 5000 year old passage tomb is ancient, but more extraordinary is its archaeological design that allows light to pass through a lintel at the entrance and pour into the tomb once a year - during the winter solstice.

Actually, light passes into the tomb at Newgrange for about 5 days surrounding the actual solstice each year, while it remains completely dark the other 360 days.

During the daylight hours throughout the year, visitors can tour Newgrange - actually go inside the tomb on a guided tour of about 20 people at a time. The tour guide turns off the lights to leave visitors in total blackness - then a slight beam of tungsten light is gradually pushed through the lintel to give the visitors a hint of what the rising sun would do on the morning of the shortest day of the year.

That alone, is worth a trip to Ireland.  But as the man-made light is flowing up the passageway, every visitor wonders .... "Wouldn't it be magnificent to be here on the actual solstice and see the sunrise for myself?"

Every year on the Solstice, the folks managing Newgrange allow 100 people to experience the solstice from inside the tomb.  People are selected by lottery.  Anyone can enter by submitting his or her name at the Bru Na Boinne Visitor Center.  If you can't do this in person, you can email the staff and ask them to enter the lottery on your behalf

The entrance passage at Newgrange

The drawing for the 2012 solstice will be held on September 28, 2012. Children from three local schools will choose the winning applicants and 50 winners will be notified by mid October. Each winning applicant will be allowed to bring one guest and the 100 lucky people will be assigned to attend one of the five days surrounding the winter solstice of 2012 (December 21st). The event is totally dependent on the weather, so if cloud cover obstructs the sunrise, there will be no light in the tomb.

 In 2011 there were 31,531 entries for the Winter Solstice Draw for 2011. Odds of winning are slightly better than 1 in 600. That makes the Newgrange Solstice Lottery ten times easier to win than the Maryland Match 5 Lottery (matching 5).

Newgrange Passage Tomb - Boyne Valley - Ireland

I sent my application request to the staff at the Visitor Center, and got a nice email confirmation within 24 hours from Eleanor that my name had been entered.
From: Bru Na Boinne
Date: Thu, 01 Dec 2011 15:05:09 +0000
To: Mindie Burgoyne
Subject: Re: application for Winter Solstice Lottery at Newgrange 2012

Dear Mindie, Your name has been entered into the 2012 Solstice Lottery. Good Luck! Eleanor

I so hope I win.  And if I don't I'll enter every year until I die.


  1. Anonymous10:01 PM

    What a lovely item for one's bucket list! I think I shall add it to mine.

    1. I hope you get there. It's a enchanting place.

  2. I am sure lots of people would be interested in travelling to Ireland just to see that. If I ever get to go, I certainly would like to get inside the building. I don't know how many other historical buildings are in that range. It has certainly survived for a long time. I hope tourists are allowed to freely take pictures inside the tomb.

    1. Sadly, there are no pictures allowed inside the tomb. Not sure why. Could be the flash of so many cameras over a long period of time would damage the colors of the stone. There is a constant stream of people coming through that tomb every single day of the year.

  3. I am sure lots of people would be interested in travelling to Ireland just to see that. If I ever get to go, I certainly would like to get inside the buildin