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.

Upcoming Dark Skies Festivals

North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales (12-28 February 2021)

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. The theme for 2021 is nocturnal wildlife. Be prepared to get up close and personal with things that go bump in the night!

We're working on a line up that will provide a fascinating insight into our precious wildlife when the sun goes down. We'll reveal the importance of dark skies and how being free from light pollution plays a crucial role to many species' existence.

All events will have Covid-19 safety measures in place, and most will need to be pre-booked. Numbers will be limited and therefore early booking is recommended. Keep a watchful eye, events are to be released shortly.

South Downs (12-28 February 2021)

This summer we have seen our iconic landscapes and their wildlife play a pivotal role in bolstering our sense of well-being. As the nights draw in we will be able to draw comfort and inspiration from the exceptional nightscapes of the South Downs too, where it is still possible to see the wonder of Milky Way from the darkest spots of the National Park.

During the two-week South Downs Dark Skies Festival we will be providing talks and tips on how you can experience the wonderful starscapes in the South Downs National Park for yourself, where to go and what to do to make the most of your night adventure. Learn about the nocturnal wildlife and what you can do to help it, and how to play your part in safeguarding our dark night skies for the next generation to enjoy in the same way as we can.

An important part of the 2021 festival is an astrophotography competition, launching at the end of October 2020 and judged in time for the winning shots to be shown throughout the Festival Fortnight in February. Keep an eye on our website for more details nearer the time.

Exmoor (October 2021 tbc)

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 Walks
*             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

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

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Yorkshire Dales events

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Our National Parks


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

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

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

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