About National Parks Dark Skies

Watch this space for 2019 Dark Skies Festival

Host of new star-studded events lined-up

A star-filled sky is one of nature's most natural wonders! But they’re become harder than ever to experience. In an urban area you’ll be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night but in an area of low light pollution, such as in our National Parks, you could see as many as 2,000 twinkling above you.

National Parks are a stargazer’s paradise, with some of the best night skies in the country and we are excited to celebrate this at our annual Dark Skies Festival. It’s all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result, with events suitable for all ages.

Since 2016's inaugural event, the Dark Skies Festival has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar, with the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Northumberland and South Downs National Park Authorities celebrating the jewels of the night sky over 17 days during February and March.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities will focus on our lunar satellite for the 2019 Festival theme. For 17 days, the National Parks will be filled with activity and awe-inspiring adventure to get you out and exploring our night sky. With more than 50 events planned, the stellar line-up includes moon gazing, photography workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, astronomy talks, planetariums, ghost walks, dark runs, owl prowls and for adrenaline junkies – a pitch black night zip!

Visitors will also be able to indulge in moon gazing and stargazing evenings against the backdrop of some of our most historical landmarks. As well as watching the dark skies’ star-studded cast within the National Parks and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, youngsters can enjoy craft workshops, geocache events and astro-treasure hunts.

You’ll also find events at other times of the year; check the event listings in your area to find out what’s happening.

Dark Skies Festival 2019 takes place from 15 February to 3 March 2019.

See you in February 2019!

Bookings and information

Advance bookings and payment are essential for many of the festival events, unless stated as a drop-in event. Booking details are included under each individual event. Please note:

  • Children are welcome at most events but minimum ages may apply.
  • Dogs are allowed at some events, but must be kept on a short, fixed lead at all times.
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear is essential. Wrap up warm especially for evening outdoor activities! A torch could be useful too.

Big Dipper

The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have joined other organisations and the Commission for Dark Skies in their support for the Big Dipper campaign, which aims to draw attention to the light pollution creep caused by beams emitted from powerful external LED floodlights and security lighting.

The Big Dipper is highlighting how property owners can help reduce the orange-white glow, which is seen above built-up areas and is increasingly spreading across the countryside, by ensuring the beam of light from exterior lamps is dipped downwards rather than projected outwards.

The Big Dipper campaign is asking people to:

  • Ensure lights point down and are fully shielded.
  • Only illuminate areas you need to and don’t leave lights on all night - use a timer or motion sensor.
  • Employ lighting that is no brighter than necessary (a 500 lumens light is ample to illuminate a back garden)
  • If possible don’t use LEDs emitting bright white/blue light, but rather warmer colours (packaging often states the light’s colour temperature – units of 3,000k and below produce a warmer colour which is less harmful to the night-time environment).

Find out more about how you support the Big Dipper campaign.