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Festivals, events and activities

Dark Skies Festival by Steve Bell Dark Skies Festival by Steve Bell

The North York Moors National Park is a stargazer’s paradise, with some of the best dark skies in the country. It’s all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result, with events throughout the year, suitable for all ages. Have a look at our Where to go, what to see page for some ideas on the best locations for stargazing or read on to discover more about our star studded events.

Dark Skies Festival (14 February - 1 March 2020)

To celebrate our night skies and to help inspire you enjoy lots of outdoor activities, we run our annual Dark Skies Festival over 17 days during February and March. Since the inaugural event in 2016, the Festival has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar, with the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and South Downs National Park Authorities all celebrating the jewels of the night sky.

Take a look at our 2020 Dark Skies Festival leaflet below to get a taster of what's to come in February 2020. You can find out more about the Festival and the latest events on our Dark Skies Festival page.

Events and activities

There are a whole host of events running throughout the year at various locations across the National Park including our Dark Sky Discovery sites at our Sutton Bank and Danby National Park Centres plus Dalby Observatories in Dalby Forest. They are known as 'Milky Way class' – so named because the galaxy is often visible to the naked eye from these sites making them perfect venues for stargazing. 

You can find other great sites for stargazing and places hosting events in the area on the Go Stargazing website and take a look at our list of events below.

  • Looking for somewhere to 'Stay and Gaze' in 2019? Check out The Farmhouse Yorkshire and Cober Hill who have events running or find great places to stay on our Dark Skies Friendly map.
  • Dark Skies Festival - an annual celestial celebration for 17 days during February and March. Expect stargazing, night zips, wildlife and ghost walks, starlight runs and bike rides, games, activities and more, from Hawes to the Moors and shores! The full programme schedule and booking details for 2020 will be available on the Festival website later in 2019.
  • Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society (SARAS) holds stargazing events in Dalby Forest on the first Friday of most months between October and March each year between 8pm and 9.30pm. Check their website for the latest dates.
  • Whitby Astronomical Society organise Star Parties on Whitby's West Cliff during the summer and in the Bruce Observatory at Whitby School during the rest of the year and at other locations in the North York Moors, including The Moors National Park Centre at Danby.
  • Join Hidden Horizons for one of their stargazing events which start in September and run all winter. With access to their large telescope, enjoy a two-hour guided tour of our night sky with expert Andy Exton. From nebulae and star clusters to planets and constellations, including Orion the Hunter and Taurus the Bull, the secrets of our skies will be revealed. Booking is essential (Adults: £12; Under 16s: £8 inc. hot chocolate/snacks); All under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. If the skies aren't clear, you'll get a chance to experience their immersive star dome with space related film and a virtual tour of the night sky.
  • Expert amateur astronomer and professional scientist, Robert Ince, holds stargazing events at our Sutton Bank National Park Centre where he will guide you on an incredible journey through the constellations and along the Milky Way.
  • Starfest is an annual 3-night star camp run by SARAS at Dalby Forest (every August), which attracts amateur astronomers from around the UK. There's camping, talks and events, and even a rocket-building competition. Starfest 2019 is the 18th annual event and one which promises to be a star-studded occasion.
  • On a clear night, why not visit our two National Park Centres at Sutton Bank and Danby (free parking after dark for stargazers) and simply enjoy the night sky.