9 January 2023
This year’s Dark Skies Festival, across both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, will include plenty of ways to enjoy a star-studded half term that don’t cost the earth.
The Festival, which takes place within the International Dark Sky Reserves of both National Parks between 10 and 26 February, will feature many free and low cost events for all ages to appreciate the wonders of a star-filled night, learn more about space and discover why the skies are worth protecting from artificial light pollution.
For instance a new collaboration with Scarborough Pride to mark LGBTQ+ history month means that Festival-goers can join a free Lantern Walk through the atmospheric coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay while discovering more about Britain’s queer heritage.
Families can go on a stargazing safari evening in the company of local astronomers at Catton near Thirsk; follow the 1.5km Planet Trail to find scale replicas of the planets while walking through woodland alongside the waterfalls at Aysgarth; or use investigative skills to find nocturnal creatures at both Danby Lodge and Sutton Bank.
For a small cost, there’s everything from a mindful night walk on the clifftops above Whitby; ghost walks at Robin Hood’s Bay, space-themed crafting sessions at Hawes, Helmsley, Danby and Sutton Bank; a star party at the Wensleydale Ice Cream Parlour; through to sessions with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust where people can make habitat-friendly items for nocturnal wildlife such as hedgehogs and bats.
For thrill-seekers there are night bike rides; an afternoon event where youngsters can cycle along a planet and star-adorned trail before making planet pizzas at Stage1 Cycles in Hawes; a 10km fell run near Reeth; canoeing at Scar House Reservoir in Nidderdale; or an after-dark trail run followed by a yoga session at Danby.
For those looking for a slower pace to appreciate the National Parks’ dark side, there are various guided night walks from spots including Horton in Ribblesdale, Goathland, the Hole of Horcum and Lastingham, and mindfulness sessions at Dalby Forest and Rievaulx.
The rest of the programme includes the perennial favourites, astronomy sessions where guests can marvel at star clusters, galaxies and constellations while standing at beauty spots, whether it’s a woodland clearing in Dalby Forest, the ridgetop splendour of Sutton Bank or witnessing the twinkly skies framing the distinctive outline of the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales, Ingleborough. There’s even a stargazing session at Stump Cross Caverns where guests venture underground afterwards for a cave tour.
Meanwhile those keen to brush up their camera skills can join nightscape and astro photography sessions at locations such as Reeth, Malham Cove, Ribblehead Viaduct, Castle Howard or Whitby; or learn how to capture the beauty of owls in flight at the National Centre for Birds of Prey.
Those wanting to spend longer can stay in dark skies-friendly accommodation including the Fox and Hounds Inn at Ainthorpe near Danby, which has a special package including stargazing and mindfulness sessions. Alternatively Yoga and Spice near Whitby is running a two-night package that includes night walking, yoga and lifestyle sessions; while Gumboots and Wellingtons at Ellerburn is offering guests the chance to hunker down in either a shepherd’s hut or cabin after toasting marshmallows on a firepit outside.
Emily Watson, Visitor Development and Marketing Assistant for the North York Moors National Park comments: “This year’s Festival is geared towards helping people connect more strongly with our pristine dark skies, enabling them to gain a new perspective by visiting popular daytime beauty spots at night instead, learn in a fun environment just how important the natural world depends on darkness and simply enjoy the awesome sight of a sky filled with thousands of stars.”
Helen Dalton, Tourism Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park adds: “There are some fantastic ways that people can enjoy a great value outing during the Festival, whether it’s a daytime family event or an evening where they can literally have an ‘out of this world’ experience."
For more programme information, including booking details go to www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk
Notes to editors:
The Dark Skies Festival runs across four protected landscapes - North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
North York Moors National Park
The National Park is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland, dark skies and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952, it 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 www.northyorkmoors.org.uk
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 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 Nina Beadle, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority:
T: 01439 772577
Or Andrew Fagg, Media Officer, at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
T: 01969 652374