Shortest Day of the Year 2024 in United Kingdom

Saturday, 21 December 2024

The Winter Solstice occurs at 09:23

The days become shorter as a result of the earth tilting away from the sun (at least in one hemisphere at a time). This causes the sun to appear lower in the sky and spend less time above the horizon, meaning the day is shorter.

Solstice sunrise, sunset and day length in London

Sunrise

sunrise 08:05 Direction: 129°
First light: 07:24

Sunset

sunset 15:54 Direction: 232°
Last light: 16:35

How long is the shortest day of the year?

The Winter Solsitice is both the shortest day of the year and also the longest night. The good news is that from this point on the days will begin to get longer until Midsummer's Night in about 6 months.

Daylight & night hours for the Winter Solstice

Day length for 2024-07-13
Night Twilight begins:
5:59
First light:
7:23
Sunrise:
8:03
Sunset:
15:53
Last light:
16:33
Twilight ends:
17:57
Night

Whilst there will be more daylight going forward the same cannot be said for the temperature. This is just the beginning of winter* and temperatures will continue to drop for well over a month. The phenomena is known as seasonal lag where, despite there being more energy from the sun, the latent temperature of the Earth makes the air temperature slow to respond.

*Beginning of Astronomical winter. Meteological winter begins December 1 / June 1 (depending on hemisphere).

Winter Solstice Dates

The shortest day can occur on December 20, 21, 22, or 23. However, as you can see below the 21st is by far the most common. A December solstice on the 23rd is once in a hundred years occurrence, and a December 20 solstice is even rarer.

Dates of shortest day of the year in United Kingdom
Year Date Time (Solstice)
2020 21st December 10:06
2021 21st December 16:02
2022 21st December 21:51
2023 22nd December 03:30
2024 21st December 09:23
2025 21st December 15:06
2026 21st December 20:53
2027 22nd December 02:45
2028 21st December 08:23
2029 21st December 14:17
2030 21st December 20:13

The date of the equinoxes and solstices varies because a year in our calendar does not exactly match the length of the astronomical calendar.

The word solstice comes from Latin 'solstitium' meaning "the sun stands still". This is because the sun's path north or south stops before reversing direction.