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

Exmoor (16-31 October 2020)

Join the celebrations of Exmoor’s dark skies. Live and virtual Festival events are taking place all over the National Park.

All events must be pre-booked and numbers are limited due to covid-19 safety measures. See the full events listing and booking details.

*             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

North York Moors Fringe Festival (23 October-1 November 2020)

It's the first of its kind and a chance to celebrate the special dark skies for a second time in one year! Expect much of the same sparkle and celestial fun of February's festival.

New activities to join the list of favourites include dark skies trail runs, moorland meanders under a moonlit sky, live baby barn owl streaming and stay and gaze packages at dark skies accommodation. See the full line up under North York Moors events. The Yorkshire Dales National Park also has a Dark Skies Planet Trail running all week.

All events have Covid-19 safety measures in place, and most must be pre-booked. Numbers will be limited and therefore early booking is recommended.

Virtual Dark Skies Week (23 October-1 November 2020)

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has joined North York Moors National Park Authority and astronomy experts ‘Go Stargazing’ to hold a virtual Dark Skies Week as a taster of the main Dark Skies Festival next February.

Choose from a whole array of topics: a beginner’s guide to the night sky, extra terrestrial life in the Universe, the aurora, black holes, stargazing, the latest solar system developments, dark energy and looking in detail at our planets! Book your FREE place now.

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 to provide a fascinating insight into our precious wildlife when the sun goes down. We hope to reveal the importance of dark skies and how being free from light pollution plays a crucial role to many species' existence. 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.

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

South Downs events

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Yorkshire Dales events

Friday, 23.10.20 to Sunday, 01.11.20

Friday, 23.10.20 to Sunday, 01.11.20

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