A star studded sky over snowy hills
Northern lights over Saltwick Bay
Star trails over Buster Ancient Farm

Welcome to National Parks Dark Skies Festivals

National Parks remain some of the darkest places in Great Britain and we celebrate our star-studded skies at Festivals throughout autumn and winter.

Our Dark Skies festivals are all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result. This could mean getting out for an activity such as cycling, walking, running or caving at night, attending a stargazing party, or taking part in a daytime event, learning more about star constellations or making a rocket.

There are events for families, first-time stargazers and those wishing to expand their knowledge or astrophotography skills further. We work with local astronomy clubs and other star loving organisations to help you discover the wonder of the night skies above your National Parks.

Dark Skies Festivals 2022

Exmoor (14 - 30 October)

Join the celebrations of Exmoor’s dark skies at our annual festival, with stargazing events all over the National Park. The programme is likely to include:

  • Ranger Guided Night Walk
  • Stargazing Guides
  • Outdoor Adventures in the Dark
  • Well-being Retreats under the Stars
  • Dark Skies Adventure by Boat
  • Stargazing Suppers
  • Dusk Safaris
  • Expert Astronomy Talks
  • Star & Nature Evenings

Fringe Festival logo

North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Fringe Festival (21 - 30 October)

One festival isn't enough! We know you want to #SeeMoorStars so we added another fixture to the stargazing calendar. Expect more starry delights across the with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales during half-term week.

From stargazing and night walks to family activities and astro-photography, this is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge or start your stargazing journey.

Get involved in the Festival fun and see the full line up of events later in the year.

Dark Skies Festivals 2023

North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Festival (10 - 26 February)

Since 2016's inaugural event, the North Yorkshire collaboration has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar, with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities celebrating the jewels of the night sky.

We're delighted to be celebrating our eighth Dark Skies Festival in 2023. Every year it's a pleasure to showcase just how special our dark skies are and welcome back annual favourites.

Discover activities at night to heighten the senses such as night runs, zip wires, kayaking and biking, astrophotography workshops, stargazing safaris, children's trails and mindful experiences.

South Downs (February tbc)

A two week celebration to explore the dark skies of the South Downs and the nocturnal wildlife that lives there. In 2022, our Dark Skies Festival offered a wonderful mix of inspiring online content and in-person outdoor events.

Details of next year's Festival will be available closer to the time. Please head to our website for more information.

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival (February tbc)

Light up February with a spectacular array of in-person events celebrating the wonders of our night sky. Explore our dark skies, from rock pooling in the dark, where starry-eyed adventurers can discover the weird and wonderful marine-life that sparkle after dark, to night-time woodland walks and canoeing. Dark Skies themed art workshops feature too as well astrophotography workshops and forest bathing in Grizedale Forest, and online Planetarium events by LUniverse at Lancaster University. Check out the line-up, we think it's out of this world!

Northumberland Dark Skies Festival (February tbc)

As England’s first and largest International Dark Sky Park, Northumberland is now home to its very own Dark Skies Festival.

The festival is hosted on the Northumberland National Park website with events from all five observatories in Northumberland: Battlesteads, Kielder, Stonehaugh, Twice Brewed and Allenheads. The line-up included a wide variety of things to see and do – from beginner events for families, to more specialised astrophotography workshops on how to photograph the Aurora.

Where to go stargazing

You don't have to wait for a Festival to admire the night sky in all its stellar glory. Find out where the best places are to go stargazing in our National Parks throughout the year.

Northumberland events

North York Moors events

South Downs events

Friday, 11.02.22 to Sunday, 27.02.22

Friday, 11.02.22 to Saturday, 05.03.22

Friday, 11.02.22

Yorkshire Dales events

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Our National Parks

Tree silhouette against a dark starry sky


Northumberland National Park forms part of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park. Unveiled in December 2013 and at 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres) it is also Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Thanks to its pristine skies it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens.

Events in Northumberland

Stars over the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey Credit Russell Norman

North York Moors

When the sun sets in the North York Moors, another breathtaking view emerges – a sky full of stars! The low levels of light pollution and dark skies of the National Park are one of the things that makes it such a special place. Come and join in our star-filled festival of fun and learn more about the magic above us, with events suitable for all ages.

Events in the North York Moors
Dark Skies over a windmill

South Downs

We think our star-studded skies overhead are as valuable as our beautiful rolling landscapes and, with properly dark skies in the South East of England under threat, our International Dark Sky Reserve status is a statement that the skies of the South Downs are worth protecting.

Events in the South Downs
Northern lights over Ingleton

Yorkshire Dales

Its superb dark skies are one of the things that make the Yorkshire Dales National Park so special. With large areas completely free from local light pollution, it's a fantastic place to start your stargazing adventure.

Events in the Yorkshire Dales