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Stellar line-up of big names grows for 2020 Dark Skies Festival as final programme announced

Dark Skies Festival by Polly A BaldwinDark Skies Festival by Polly A Baldwin

22 January 2020

An astronomy expert who grew up on the coast is boosting the stellar line-up of big names taking part in next month’s Dark Skies Festival which is jointly organised by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.

Carole HaswellThe Open University’s head of astronomy Professor Carole Haswell returns to her hometown of Saltburn for two evening events at Hunley Hotel to talk about her work which includes the discovery of planets that orbit stars other than the sun, so-called exoplanets.

Professor Haswell’s appearance underlines the popularity among Dark Sky Festival visitors for hearing from those on the frontline of space research as this year’s event also includes evenings with BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott and Professor Andy Newsam from Liverpool John Moores University.

The 17-day Festival begins on 14 February and both National Parks are reporting strong demand in the 150-plus events; already around a fifth of the events requiring pre-booked tickets are sold out and new dates are being added.

The stargazing evenings are proving particularly popular and more sessions have been added at locations such as Ravenscar and Cober Hill on the coast; at Terrington in the Howardian Hills and at Danby where experts will also share how to see and understand the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights.

Other events in and around the North York Moors National Park include the new ‘travels into space’ sessions where both adults and children can don virtual reality headsets and become astronoauts, astrophotography sessions at Helmsley Walled Garden, the night zip wire experience in Dalby Forest, Robin Hood’s Bay ghost walks, nocturnal wildlife evenings in Keldy and Cropton, and dark sky walks at Chop Gate and Lastingham.

Yorkshire Dark Skies Festival 2020 (14 February-1 March)

Location: Various locations across both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks
Pricing: various – see website for individual pricing details.
See for more information and programme


Notes to editors:

The Dark Skies Festival runs across four protected landscapes - the North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

North York Moors National Park

The National Park is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland, dark skies and historic sites. It was created on 28 November 1952 and became Britain’s sixth national park. The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire. Nearly 14% of its staff are apprentices from local families. For more information go to

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife and a rich heritage. As well as being ideal for those who want to enjoy the outdoors, the National Park offers a wealth of attractions for visitors – from great food and places to eat, castles, abbeys and quirky museums, and opportunities to learn new skills. It is one of 15 National Parks in the UK and is administered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Nidderdale AONB

Nidderdale AONB covers 603 sq km (233 sq miles) from Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales through to the edge of the Vale of York in the East. The fascinating geology of the area which has created a gorge and eye-catching rock formations, together with the tranquil expanses of water, open heather moorland, rolling pastures and scenic villages are among the special qualities of the AONB.

Howardian Hills AONB

Howardian Hills AONB covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a captivating landscape with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, tranquil villages and historic country houses with classic parkland landscapes.

For further information and images please contact Amanda Brown at A2BPR on:

T: 01423 740048
M: 07876 452580

Or Charlie Fox, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority:
T: 01439 772700

Or Andrew Fagg, Media Officer, at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
T: 01969 652374