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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 (12-28 February 2021)

To celebrate our night skies and inspire you to enjoy outdoor activities, we run our annual Dark Skies Festival over 17 days during February. 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.

This year we're hosting a Virtual Dark Skies Festival. It might not involve witnessing the National Park's dark skies in person but we're working hard to bring you an exciting and interactive line up of presentations and activities. You can find out more and book events on our Dark Skies Festival page.

Hidden Horizons at Dalby by Steve Bell

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.

  • Dark Skies Festival - our annual celestial celebration for 17 days during February. Expect stargazing, night zips, wildlife and ghost walks, starlight runs and bike rides, children's trails, activities and more, from Hawes to the Moors and shores! The full programme schedule and booking details for 2021 will be available on the Festival website soon.
  • 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 guided tour of our night sky with their experts. 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. 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.
  • Steve Bell Photography runs a limited number of weekend photography workshops throughout the year. Join Steve, an experienced astro-photographer to take in the very best the North York Moors National Park, during the day and night. Learn all you need to take your photography skills to the next level.
  • Adventures for the Soul host events incorporating night walks with yoga and mindfulness, the ultimate way to appreciate your surroundings in a reflective and 'present' approach, truly connecting with nature.
  • Rewilding Adventure specialise in bushcraft and outdoor activities. Check out their varied programme of after-dark experiences including night navigation, moon rise viewings, dinner by campfire and moonlit meanders.
  • 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 2020 is the 19th 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.

Looking for somewhere to 'Stay and Gaze'? Find great places to stay on our Dark Skies Friendly map. All of the accommodation owners have gone the extra mile to provide equipment and information so you can stargaze from the comfort of your property.