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 2024

Northumberland 10th anniversary (until March)

As England’s first and largest International Dark Sky Park, Northumberland is celebrating its 10th anniversary from December 2023 to March 2024 with the launch of Dark Skies Matter, a new series of exhibitions and events. This includes an exhibition commissioned by Northumberland National Park and supported by the Sir James Knott Trust, by artist Bethan Maddocks called Noctalgia, meaning ‘sky grief’, a term invented by astronomers when they lose access to dark skies.

South Downs (10 - 18 February)

A two week celebration to explore the dark skies of the South Downs and the nocturnal wildlife that lives there. In 2023, 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.

Welsh Dark Skies Week (February)

Welsh Dark Skies Week is returning to a night sky near you. All eight of our protected landscapes in Wales have come together to celebrate what makes our dark skies so unique and special.

Together, the three National Parks (Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast) and the five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Anglesey, Pen Llŷn, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, Gower and Wye) will be holding events from stargazing and astrophotography workshops with our mobile observatories to special guest lectures on biodiversity and heritage. Not forgetting of course, planetarium shows in our pop-up planetariums! To find out more about events in your area, head over to www.discoveryinthedark.wales/ or look for ‘Prosiect Nos’ on social media.

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival (18 October - 13 November)

There will be a host of events for families, amateur astronomers and everyone who feels inspired by the outdoors and the night. Events are spread across the National Park and are run by Exmoor National Park Authority and other businesses and organisations. Be first in line for details of their 2024 festival here.

North York Moors Dark Skies Fringe Festival (25 October - 3 November)

One festival in February isn't enough! We know you want to #SeeMoorStars so we added another fixture to the stargazing calendar, our fifth Dark Skies Fringe Festival! It's a great opportunity to expand your knowledge, start your stargazing journey and truly appreciate the delights of the night. Stay tuned for the full festival details!

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival (October - November)

Light up this autumn with a spectacular array of in-person and online events celebrating the wonders of our night sky. There's a range of exciting events celebrating the wonders of the night sky, from night time canoeing on Coniston Water to starlit swims in Ullswater and bushcraft cooking. Experience guided trail running at night or join an accessible dark skies residential weekend. Keep up to date with latest events and news here.


Dark Skies Festivals 2025

North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales 10th Dark Skies Festival (14 February 3 March)

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'll be celebrating our tenth Dark Skies Festival in 2025. Every year it's a pleasure to showcase just how special our dark skies are and welcome back annual favourites, and during 2025 we're extremely excited to be celebrating 10 years of this incredible festival.

Discover activities at night to heighten the senses such as night runs, canoeing and night navigation, astrophotography workshops, stargazing safaris, children's daytime trails, art workshops and mindful experiences.


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.

Yorkshire Dales events



Thursday, 31.10.24


South Downs events



Friday, 23.02.24


Northumberland events

Our National Parks

Tree silhouette against a dark starry sky

Northumberland

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