Dark Skies Festival 101

Dark Skies Festival 101 by Phoebe Smith

9 – 25 February 2024

Did you know we are kind-of famous for our extraordinary dark skies?! Afterall, we are one of only 21 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, which we think is pretty impressive! 

This February, we are hosting our ninth annual Dark Skies Festival, to give visitors the opportunity to join us on a journey to marvel at the millions of stars that shine above the National Park. The Dark Skies Festival is not only an opportunity to see the stars that glow above us but is also an opportunity to learn all about astronomy and the solar system our planet is a part of.

We have partnered with over 25 local astro-experts to host a fantastic festival, filled with events for all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a serial stargazer, or are just looking for something new, we’re sure there is something on our programme for you.

Dark skies event by Jamie HunterStar trail by Steve Bell

Be a stargazing superstar this February

During February’s festival, you could join Richard Darn or AstroDog to marvel at the millions of stars that light up our skies with experts in the field. Enjoy a guided tour of our night skies whilst learning about stars, asterisms, constellations, star-hopping and how to navigate the night sky, at Sutton Bank or Dalby Forest.

Ready for an outdoor astro adventure?

If you’re looking for adventure during our Dark Skies Festival, we have the perfect events for you. Why not join us at Sutton Bank National Park Centre to cycle through our stars at night with Sutton Bank Bikes, or trek over our landscapes with Adventures for the Soul and ASF Mountaineering, Large Outdoors, River Mountain Experience or Walk Yorkshire on a starlight walking experience.

Sutton Bank night ride by Hewitt and Walker

Combine dark skies with the arts

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore our starry skies, we have a great line up for you to explore. Join Steve Bell or Richard Burdon for an interactive night photography workshop, to learn the tricks of the trade to the stunning starry images we share. Get creative with Ione Harrison in a starry night's watercolour workshop or experience a dark sky walking arts experience on Blakey Moor together with Electronic Dance Poets, Claire Hind and Robert Wilsmore.

Stay and gaze

If you’re coming from further afield to explore the North York Moors at night, we recommend you book a stay with one of the 22 ‘Dark Skies Friendly’ accommodation providers within the National Park. Wrap up warm to watch the stars from the comfort of a cosy B&B, converted barn or even a remote A-frame cabin, and extend your stay by exploring the varied landscapes of the National Park the next day.

Dark skies stay and gaze by OrilloDark skies event by Orillo

Or simply join us to explore our skies from the comfort of your own home

New for 2024, we have partnered with Saltburn local Professor of Astronomy at the Open University Carole Haswell to make our Dark Skies Festival accessible for all. Carole will share some of the latest breath-taking images from space telescopes, explain how astronomers use light to explore the life cycles of stars and planets, and share some of her adventures in astronomy; the proceeds raised will be given back to disadvantaged children.

There’s a world of adventure awaiting you in the skies of the North York Moors, there’s so much magic after dark to explore. Start the excitement now, book your activities and head on here for 9 February to celebrate the ninth North York Moors Dark Skies Festival!

View our full Dark Skies Festival line up, here: Dark Skies Festival 2024

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