20,000 mark summer solstice at Stonehenge

Celebrants take part in a summer solstice dawn ceremony, as druids, pagans and revelers wait for the midsummer sun to rise at the megalithic monument of Stonehenge, June 21, 2012 near Amesbury, England. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

STONEHENGE, England Police say more than 20,000 celebrants have gathered at the famed Stonehenge monument to mark the summer solstice.

The cloud cover Friday morning prevented bright sunshine at dawn of the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere but a joyous spirit prevailed.

Following an annual, all-night party, thousands of New Age-rs and neo-pagans danced and whooped in delight at the ancient stone circle as the solstice occurred, at 4:52 a.m. local time.

Police say there were fewer arrests than usual, with 22 people taken into custody, most for drug-related offenses.

The solstice has typically drawn a wide and varied crowd to the mysterious set of standing stones whose purpose remains unclear.

The ancient stone circle on the Salisbury Plain about 80 miles southwest of London, was built in three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C.

People raise their hands in celebration during the summer solstice, shortly after 4:52 a.m., at Stonehenge, near Salisbury, England, Friday, June 21, 2013.
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

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