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First UK public screening of documentary during Dark Skies Festival

Mountain biking dark skies (Sutton Bank) credit Steve BellMountain biking dark skies (Sutton Bank) credit Steve Bell

Next month’s Dark Skies Festival will see the first public screening in the UK of a thought provoking documentary highlighting the enormous impact of light pollution on the world’s population, wildlife and the environment.

Saving the Dark was first released in America in 2018 and will be shown at five exclusive screenings in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks during the 17-day Dark Skies Festival (15 February-3 March). After each screening visitors will be treated to a stargazing session.

The documentary which is backed by the International Dark Sky Association has been credited with drawing attention to the impact of excessive and improper lighting which not only robs people of the night skies but disrupts sleep patterns and endangers nocturnal habitats. According to the film maker, 80% of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way.

The film will complement the many other new events happening at this year’s Festival at venues right across both National Parks and the Howardian Hills and Nidderdale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Alongside Professor Tim O’Brien’s talk at Castle Howard, visitors intrigued by space research can also listen to Henrique Araujo, Professor of Physics at Imperial College, one of the world’s leading experts on dark matter. He will be speaking at Whitby Museum on 15 February on the Search for Dark Matter.

For the first time the National Trust will help host a stargazing evening on the cliff tops at Ravenscar. Other new stargazing evenings will be held at Forest Holidays in Cropton and Cober Hill in the North York Moors while over in the Yorkshire Dales astronomers will lead visitors on a star safari at Dalesbridge near Austwick and a Super Moon evening at Simonstone Hall in Hawes.

New star parties will also be held at Stump Cross Caverns near Pateley Bridge and Brymor near Jervaulx where visitors can tuck into a specially-created Dark Skies Galaxy Delight ice cream. Meanwhile planetariums will be popping up at new locations such as Kirkby Lonsdale, Leyburn and Ripon Cathedral taking visitors on a virtual tour of the cosmos.

Activity seekers can enjoy moonlit and starry skies by canoeing or cycling at Scar House Reservoir near Pateley Bridge, trail running at Dalby Forest or competing in an off-road bike race in Swaledale with three different routes to suit everybody from youngsters through to Lunar Lunatics.

Guided walking specialist Large Outdoors will be opening people’s eyes to the delights of striding out at night with walks from Sutton Bank, Chop Gate, Lastingham and Robin Hood’s Bay. Over at Grimwith Reservoir, local guides and an amateur astronomer are combining their skills with a guided walk around the shores of the water.

Meanwhile over in Whitby, guests can enjoy an evening dining on-board The Endeavour Experience while learning more about how astronomy was important during Captain Cook’s voyage including the importance of plotting the Transit of Venus. Expert astronomer Richard Darn will also be on-hand for a spot of stargazing from the deck of the HM Bark Endeavour replica.

Alongside the many space-themed crafting sessions youngsters will also be well catered for with Forest School events being held for the first time at Semerwater; a woodland lantern procession at Freeholders’ Wood, Aysgarth; a pizza planet party in Hawes or a moonrock geocaching session at The Moors National Park Centre at Danby.

Budding photographers can hone night-time skills at stunning locations such as a waterfall at West Burton, Scar House Reservoir and Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale and Castle Howard in the Howardian Hills.

Each National Park has three Dark Sky Discovery locations where skies are sufficiently dark to potentially view the Milky Way with the naked eye. The North York Moors sites are at The Moors National Park Centre at Danby, Sutton Bank and Dalby Forest.

The Yorkshire Dales Dark Sky Discovery locations are at Hawes, Malham and Buckden while Nidderdale AONB has four at Scar House, Thruscross and Fewston Reservoirs and Toft Gate Lime Kiln.

Programme information and booking details can be found on A number of events will be free while others will have a small charge attached.


Notes to editors:

The Dark Skies Festival is part of Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales, a partnership project running until 31 August 2019 to boost rural tourism across the four protected landscapes within North Yorkshire.

EU LogoThis project is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

The four protected partnerships are the North York Moors National Park. Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 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 Nina Beadle, 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