Where to go stargazing

It's amazing what you can see in the dark

And truly dark skies - like those you'll find in many of our national parks - allow us to see far-off stars and galaxies in the same way our ancestors did, without the orange glow of street lights and neon signs.

Next time you're visiting one of the 15 National Parks to enjoy our great outdoors, why not stay a while to admire the night sky in all its stellar glory. We're working to set up Dark Sky Reserves, Dark Sky Parks and Dark Sky Discovery Sites and to help run special events to show everyone the wonder of our night skies.

We're especially proud that of 13 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, the UK has four in National Parks - Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Snowdonia and South Downs. We've also home to two International Dark Sky Parks - Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park, and Tomintoul and Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park.

Where to go stargazing in the National Parks

Brecon Beacons National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded February 2013.

One of only a handful of International Dark Sky Reserves in the world following a long-running campaign to demonstrate the national park's outstanding dark sky qualities. Residents and visitors are encouraged to prevent light pollution and take an interest in the night sky.

Cairngorms National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Park awarded 2018

The Tomintoul and Glenlivet – Cairngorms International Dark Sky Park includes the 230 square kilometre Glenlivet Estate in the Scottish Highlands and an additional 14 square kilometres of privately owned and other lands. It is also the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world. As well as stargazing, our most northerly National Park offers the best chance for a view of the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) too.

Exmoor National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded 2011

The Exmoor National Park Authority works with local councils, businesses and communities to reduce light pollution, resulting in stunningly starry skies.

Lake District National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Site at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre

Located in Ennerdale, England's most remote valley, and with the nearest public road 2 miles away, Low Gillerthwaite field centre runs special stargazing events throughout the year.

Northumberland National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Park (Gold tier) awarded in 2013

The whole of the national park together with neighbouring Kielder Water & Forest Park makes up Northumberland Dark Sky Park, nearly 1,500 square kilometres of dark, starry skies.

North York Moors National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Sites at Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centres plus Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society Observatories in Dalby Forest.

The North York Moors National Park runs an annual Dark Skies Festival over 17 days during February and March. Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society hold regular stargazing events in Dalby Forest and Starfest, an annual 3-night star camp attracting amateur astronomers from around the UK.

Peak District National Park

Status: Dark Sky Discovery Sites at Surprise View, Parsley Hay and Minninglow

Discovery sites with seasonally updated interpretation panels

Sheffield Astronomical Society events

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Status: Eight Dark Sky Discovery Sites

The Pembrokeshire Coast is one of the best places in the UK to view the night sky and has eight Dark Sky Discovery Sites for you to visit at:

  • Bosherston South car park
  • Garn Fawr National Trust car park (SA64 OJJ)
  • Kete National Trust car park (SA62 3RR)
  • Martin's Haven National Trust car park (SA62 3BJ)
  • Newgale Beach car park (SA62 6BD)
  • Poppit Sands (SA43 3LN)
  • Skrinkle Haven Pembrokeshire Coast National Park car park (SA70 7SD)
  • Sychpant Pembrokeshire Coast National Park picnic site (SA65 9UA)

South Downs National Park

A windmill under a star studded dark sky
Halnacker Windmill by moonlight, South Downs National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded 2016

Snowdonia National Park

Status: International Dark Sky Reserve awarded in 2015

Snowdonia National Park was the fourth UK National Park to be acknowledged by the International Dark Sky Institute for efforts to prevent and reduce light pollution, thereby protecting the view of the night sky.

Top five places for stargazing in Snowdonia National Park Dark Sky Reserve

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Status: Four Dark Sky Discovery sites

As well as four Dark Sky Discovery Sites - at Hawes and Malham National Park Centres, Buckden National Park Car Park and Tan Hill Inn, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority runs a Dark Skies Festival every year over 17 days during February and March.

Head to a National Park!

Map of UK showing light pollution

This map shows light pollution levels across Britain. We've added the locations of the national parks, and you can see that we match up with some of the darkest spots in the country. So, if you're visiting any of our National Parks, stay up late on a clear night and enjoy some extra stars.