Thousands of people — including many in druid and animal costumes — have descended on Britain's Stonehenge to see the sun rise on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Some 5,000 people traveled to the prehistoric monument before dawn to celebrate the annual event, which marks the point when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun. After Tuesday, the hours of daylight become longer, symbolizing the return of hope.

This year's solstice took place on a particularly mild winter's day, with temperatures Tuesday in London as warm as 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit).

The stone circle in southern England, believed 4,500 years old, is a World Heritage site known for its alignment with the movements of the sun.