Stonehenge Free Festival

Stonehenge Free Festival

The Stonehenge Free Festival was a British free festival from 1972 to 1984 held at Stonehenge in England during the month of June, and culminating on the summer solstice on June 21st. The festival was a celebration of various alternative cultures. The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troop, The Tepee People, Circus Normal, the Peace Convoy, new age travelers and the Wallys were notable counter culture attendees. The famous pyramid stage hosted many bands including Hawkwind, Gong, Doctor and the Medics, Flux of Pink Indians, Buster Blood Vessel, Omega Tribe, Crass, Selector, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Thompson Twins, The Raincoats, Brent Black Music Co-op, Amazulu, Wishbone Ash, Man, Benjamin Zephaniah, Inner City Unit, Here and Now, Cardiacs, The Enid, Roy Harper and Jimmy Page, all played for free.


The festival attendees were viewed as hippies (and some were, in fact, self-described hippies) by the wider British public. This, along with the open drug use and sale, contributed to the increase in restrictions on access to Stonehenge, as fences were erected around the stones in 1977. The same year, police resurrected a moribund law against driving over grassland in order to levy fines against festival goers in motorised transport. However as late as 1984 the police-festival relations were relaxed: just a nominal presence (a PC + a WPC) in the car park. On solstice morning people sat on the stones and offered their spliffs to the police below, who politely declined. Stonehenge's meaning has been historically contested, and that trend was dramatically continued in 1985 when English courts banned the Free Festival from being held at Stonehenge. The ruling came so late that some Free Festivallers did not know about it, and several hundred attempted to show up in defiance of the ruling.

Battle of the Beanfield

The ensuing confrontation with police ended in the Battle of the Beanfield and no free festival has been held at Stonehenge since, though people have been allowed to gather at the stones again for the solstice since 1999.

ee also

* Phil Russell, aka Wally Hope, co-founder of the Windsor and Stonehenge free festivals


*McKay, George (1996) "Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties", chapter one 'The free festivals and fairs of Albion', chapter two 'O life unlike to ours! Go for it! New Age travellers'. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-028-0

External links

* [ Stonehenge free festivals 1972-85 - An illustrated History]
* [ Tash's Stonehenge Festival and 'Exclusion Zone' photo galleries]
* [ BBC 2004 Stonehenge 'Festival History' article]
* [ 'Stonehenge Campaign']
* [ 'Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion' by Andy Worthington (Alternative Albion, 2004)]

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