When is the shortest day of the year 2020 and what to do with the kids when it's dark outside

winter sunset
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dark nights are upon us and it won't be long until the shortest day of the year 2020 - also known as the winter solstice - arrives! Here's everything you need to know...

We're all in full autumn mode, with Halloween (opens in new tab) right around the corner and some of us even beginning the countdown to Christmas (opens in new tab). (Yes, we're shopping for Christmas toys for the kids already!)

Now the clocks have gone back, the shortest day of the year 2020 is not that far off. That means saying goodbye to mornings and evenings getting lighter (opens in new tab) for a little while until the winter solstice. But after the shortest day, things should start to get a little brighter...

When is the shortest day of the year 2020?

This year, the shortest day of the year 2020 will occur on Monday 21st December.

Last year this day fell on a Sunday on 22nd December. Also known as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year always occurs in December, and in the northern hemisphere the date marks the 24-hour period with the fewest daylight hours of the year. This is why it is known as the shortest day and longest night.

The winter solstice is the exact opposite of the summer solstice, which is the day with the most daylight and the shortest night of the year.

A woman outside in the light on a winter's day

How long is the shortest day of the year?

The shortest day of the year lasts 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds. The length of day during this time is 8 hours, 48 minutes and 38 seconds shorter than the summer solstice. The actual moment of the solstice in 2020 will occur around 10.02am in the UK, but most people focus on the entire day.

Do the days get longer after the winter solstice?

If you're not a fan of seemingly never ending darkness, don't worry, because the days do start to get (gradually) longer again once the shortest day of the year has passed. The winter solstice actually means the sun is on its way back, and the days will officially start getting longer and lighter. So after the winter solstice, you will slowly start seeing the sun in the mornings and early evenings again.

children in winter on the shortest day of the year 2020

Credit: Getty Images

What to do with the kids on the shortest day of the year 2020

You might want to get your little ones involved with the winter solstice, to help them understand more about why it happens. You could make seasonal crafts like paper snowflakes using our free templates, or why not keep warm in the kitchen with some baking? Kids love our easy choc chip cookie recipe - just make sure they don't eat all of the chocolate before it makes it into the dough!

If you need ideas for how to keep kids entertained on cold, dark days, then we've got a long list of games, crafts, activities and ideas for kids here you could try.  There's plenty of fun activities here that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

Lucy Buglass
Lucy Buglass

Lucy Buglass is a Digital Writer for What's on TV, Goodto.com, and Woman&Home. After finishing her degree in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University she moved to London to begin her career. She's passionate about entertainment and spends most of her free time watching Netflix series, BBC dramas, or going to the cinema to catch the latest film releases.