Your guide to the Dark Skies Festival 2024

Embark on a celestial journey like never before at the much-anticipated Dark Skies Festival 2024. Prepare to be enchanted by the brilliance of the night sky as you join fellow stargazers for an unforgettable experience.

This year’s festival promises a constellation of engaging activities and we’ve got all the important info for you.

What is the Dark Skies Festival?

Dark Skies FestivalThe Dark Skies Festival is a cosmic celebration that invites stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts to experience the wonder of the night sky. During the festival, people gather from far and wide and let the stars take centre stage, away from the hustle and bustle of city lights. The festival events include captivating astronomy talks, hands-on workshops, and mesmerising telescope viewing sessions. It’s a unique opportunity to escape the glow of urban life and embrace the beauty of dark skies.

Beyond the celestial show, these festivals aim to foster awareness about the importance of preserving our natural nightscapes, encouraging us all to be guardians of the starry wonders above. Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or just a casual admirer of the cosmos, the Dark Skies Festival is a chance to connect with the universe in a truly magical way.

Where are the festival events taking place?

North York Moors

Stargazing in Dalby Forest – Experience the magic of the cosmos in the heart of the North York Moors National Park,  one of only 21 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world. Join a guided tour of the night sky, where you’ll unravel the secrets of stars and navigate the celestial landscape. Utilize telescopes and binoculars to gaze upon planets, the Moon, and breathtaking deep space objects, as you learn about the tools essential for stargazing and astrophotography.

Dark Skies Walking in Heartbeat Country – Journey through Heartbeat Country at the Dark Skies Walking event – an experience tailored for nature lovers and explorers. Immerse yourself in the landscapes of high moors filled with flowing streams and waterfalls, making it a paradise for walkers. As you wander the trail you’ll come across Goathland Station, a charming stop along the North York Moors Railway line. See magnificent steam engines and discover the station’s claim to fame as the setting for Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, adding a touch of magic to your stroll under the night sky.

Dark Skies Festival

Robin Hood’s Bay Dark Skies Walk – This coastal walk begins and ends in Robin Hood’s Bay, a bustling smuggling hub during the 18th century brimming with tales of thieves and outlaws. This historical backdrop sets the stage for one of the most intriguing walking locations in the National Park. The contrast between the coastal landscape and the constellations overhead creates a unique and unforgettable experience.

Dark Skies Experience at Sutton Bank – Elevate your stargazing experience at the Sutton Bank Dark Skies event with Large Outdoors. Escape the city lights and immerse yourself in a night-sky paradise officially recognized for its low light pollution and clear horizons. Join a knowledgeable stargazing guide and take your eyes to the skies as you learn about North York Moor’s beautiful stars and the cosmos. With Large Outdoors’ range of telescopes, experience awe-inspiring views of celestial bodies, capturing the magic of the night through your own eyes. The event also offers the chance to take home souvenir digital images of the cosmic wonders, snapped by the telescopes.

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Yorkshire Dales

Broughton By Night – For thousands of years, we’ve looked skyward to navigate ourselves and now you have the exclusive opportunity to immerse yourself in deep sky wonders and connect with nature at the Broughton Sanctuary. The Broughton By Night event costs £35pp, with an optional add-on of the Broughton By Dusk wild swim and woodland sauna experience for an additional £48. Plus, 10% of all bookings contribute to Broughton Sanctuary’s nature recovery program, allowing you to be part of a meaningful conservation effort while enjoying the celestial spectacle.

Dark Skies Activity and Pizza Nights – Indulge in a unique cosmic experience at the Dark Skies Activity and Pizza Nights at Scar House Reservoir. The highlight of the evening is the canoe under the stars, allowing you to paddle beneath the dark skies. Weather conditions may occasionally shift plans, but fear not – with safety in mind, an alternative floodlit Via Ferrata high wire experience, one of only three in the UK, awaits those seeking a thrilling night. Make sure to pre-order your favourite pizza to fuel up for the activity!

Astronomer with a telescopeBeginners Guide to the Night Sky – Join expert astronomer Richard Darn at Grassington Bunk Barn for an evening of stargazing, where you’ll unravel the secrets of ancient constellations and explore distant galaxies. This fun and practical session features a laser-guided tour using binoculars and telescopes to unveil the treasures of the cosmos. Get a hands-on experience with space rocks over four billion years old! Perfect for kids over six and adults alike, this event caters to beginners and novice stargazers. Even if the skies turn cloudy or rainy, fear not—a fascinating tour of the heavens using planetarium software awaits inside the bunk barn. Tickets for this experience are £15, including a guided talk, hot chocolate and biscuits.

Yorkshire Dales by Day and by Night – Ready for an adventure? Join Mountain Goat as they take you on a tour of the Yorkshire Dales, exploring the charming areas around Wensleydale and Swaledale. Prepare to be mesmerised by the beauty of Aysgarth Waterfalls and quaint villages that dot the landscape. The journey includes a stop at Hawes, where you can wander through the shops, savour some local food and drink, or even head up to the creamery for a taste of the world-famous Wensleydale cheese. If the weather plays nice, you might just catch a stunning sunset over the Dales before making your way down to Castle Bolton as darkness falls. So, what do you say? Make it a day (and night) to remember!

Dark Skies FestivalMoon and Stars Biscuit Decorating – Moon and Stars Biscuit Decorating is coming to the Dales Countryside Museum on the 21st of February from 10am – 12pm. It’s time for kids and adults alike to get crafty with a delicious reward waiting at the end! Plus, the best thing is this event is included with entry to the museum.

Dark Skies in the Vale – As part of the 2024 Dark Skies Festival, the Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected programme invites you to an evening of star-gazing and dark sky activities in the picturesque Vale of Mowbray. Join local astronomers as they guide you through the stars, unravelling the mysteries of the cosmos. Even if clouds decide to join the party, fear not – staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park will be on hand to lead night-time activities, ensuring the fun continues.

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