21 June, 2024 News stories

Today (21 June) marks the longest night in Antarctica and a very special Midwinter’s Day with 47 people or ‘winterers’ living and working at British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) three winter stations: Rothera on the Antarctic peninsula, and King Edward Point and Bird Island on South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Midwinter falls when the sun is at its furthest point and some of the frozen continent will be experiencing 24 hours of darkness on its shortest day. The event has its roots from the historical age of exploration and while working through the Antarctic winter, or ‘overwintering’, is now much more comfortable, many of the traditions continue.

Homemade gifts are an important component of Midwinter celebrations and staff working in research stations will spend many hours using their crafting abilities to make unique and special presents, as there are no shops in Antarctica!

The last delivery of fresh produce to the stations will have been many weeks ago, however talented chefs work hard to create a multi-course Midwinter feast, rivalling any fine dining experience back in the UK.

Colleagues working in British Antarctic Survey’s wintering stations will also receive a letter of thanks from the British Antarctic Territory’s (BAT) Commissioner and the Commissioner of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast

Cerys Matthews with Olivier Hubbart for the Midwinter Broadcast
Olivier Hubert with BBC presenter Cerys Matthews for the BBC Midwinter Broadcast

The teams gather together at the end of the special day to listen to the BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast, a unique radio programme that began in 1955, featuring messages from friends, family and supporters back in the UK.

This year’s edition is presented by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews and features interviews with Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of BAS and Olivier Hubert, a former chef (now Catering Manager) who worked in Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, before working as the chef at Rothera and Halley VI research station in Antarctica. Cerys also speaks directly to winterers Nadia Frontier (Marine Biologist) from King Edward Point Research Station and Allie Clement (Ocean Scientist/Marine Assistant) at Rothera Research Station to share their experience of wintering.

The BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast will be transmitted at 21.30 GMT on 21 June on shortwave frequencies: 9585kHz, 11685kHz and 9870kHz.

You can also listen to the programme on the BBC World Service at 22.32 BST on UK DAB and on BBC Sounds.

Celebrating Midwinter on Antarctic research winter stations


At the UK’s largest research station on the Antarctic peninsula, 34 staff members will gather together to celebrate the longest night in Antarctica. For the first time, the wintering team includes specialist construction workers who are completing the internal fit out of the new science and operations facility at Rothera, the Discovery Building.

The day will start by calling colleagues at BAS Cambridge HQ and sharing Midwinter greetings. A special breakfast will be served, followed by giving handmade gifts to colleagues. They will then have a multi-course dinner and the day will finish by listening to the BBC Midwinter Broadcast and listening to messages from loved ones at home.

A group of people posing for the camera
The 2024 midwinter team at Rothera Research Station

King Edward Point

Nine winterers at King Edward Point Research Station will be celebrating together on Cumberland East Bay on South Georgia in the Subantarctic. The team have been celebrating Midwinter throughout the week with a series of social events, including Midwinter Olympics and a film night including watching The Thing, a horror film based in Antarctica!

The station leader will kick-off Midwinter’s Day by making the team brunch, followed by a special dinner, exchanging gifts and listening to the BBC Midwinter Broadcast in the evening. The festivities will continue over the weekend, with a picnic if the team have good weather!

A group of people cross country skiing in the snow
Midwinter greetings from King Edward Point Research Station

Bird Island

Over at Bird Island Research Station on South Georgia, the four strong team will be having a relaxed celebration among the unique wildlife, including an abundance of seals and birds. They will start off with a special Midwinter brunch, followed by fondue in the evening.

Izzy Stubbs, Winter Station Leader said:

“I think for us Midwinter is a time to truly appreciate how lucky we are to be among the few people who get to see and live on this island at this time of year. To be able to witness the magic of Bird Island over winter is such a privilege, and we all feel incredibly lucky to be here!”

A group of people posing for the camera
Midwinter greetings from Bird Island Research Station

Listen to the Iceworld Podcast to hear stories from our winterers

Our latest edition of our Iceworld podcast comes from King Edward Point Research Station, as Nadia Frontier chats to five members of the team as they prepare their handmade gifts, limber up for the station Olympics and think about friends and family at home.

Happy Midwinter from everyone at British Antarctic Survey!