Events in February
As February half-term approaches, you'll find many attractions opening their doors again for the 2020 season. Find more ideas and which attractions are open at this time of year on our Winter page.
Dark Skies Festival (14 February - 1 March)
Once again we're teaming up with the Yorkshire Dales National Park to hold a joint Dark Skies Festival. Thanks to low light pollution in both National Parks, our skies are ideal for spotting constellations, shooting stars and other cosmic happenings.
The programme of family-friendly activities in the North York Moors includes the return of some of the popular events from previous years, such as stargazing at our three Dark Skies Discovery Sites, night time photography workshops and night zips with Go Ape in Dalby Forest, while an evening with BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott will be one of this year's hot tickets. Highlights include:
- BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott: The Crowd & The Cosmos - Adventures in the Zooniverse
- A special talk and stargazing session at Castle Howard: Exploring the dynamic universe by Professor Andy Newsam, Liverpool John Moores University
- Explore the dark skies like never before with virtual reality specialists View It 360 at Sutton Bank National Park Centre
- In search of the elusive Aurora presentation with stargazing
- Yoga, dark skies and mindfulness experiences
- Stay and gaze experiences and romantic Valentine's breaks with your own stargazing equipment
- Ghost walks through Robin Hood's Bay
- Night runs, walks and navigation expeditions
- Yorkshire True Grit Dark Skies (nighttime gravel and mountain bike ride)
- Night time photography workshops at Castle Howard, Helmsley Walled Garden and Whitby
- Until the Stars Come Out exhibition with work inspired by the National Park's dark skies, moody panoramas and star-filled nightscapes
- Astronomy sessions, stargazing safaris or nocturnal adventures with night vision equipment. Plenty of new locations this year, take your pick from Dalby Forest, Cropton Forest, Cober Hill, woods near Helmsley, Gribdale, Lord Stones, Sheep Wash, Lion Inn, Runswick Bay, Fyling Hall, Terrington, Sutton Bank and Danby
- Moonrock geocache, galactic treasure hunts, Young Artist Starry Night Workshop and other daytime crafty activities for families at our National Park Centres
- And for adrenaline junkies – a pitch black night zip. Thrill seekers will be able to plunge more than 200 metres into the darkness of Dalby Forest courtesy of Go Ape.
There's also a chance to join Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society (SARAS) earlier in the month (7 February) for their regular stargazing event in Dalby Forest from 8-9.30pm; free to attend, although charitable donations welcome. Forestry England will charge £3 per car on exit.
JORVIK Viking Festival, York (15–23 February 2030)
Why not combine your Dark Skies trip with a visit to the 36th JORVIK Viking Festival, a week-long celebration of York’s rich Norse heritage. This year’s theme is ‘Voyages of the Vikings’. An exciting programme of events is held across the city and includes living history encampments, walks, talks, tours and, dramatic combat performances. Find out more.
Half-term fun for children
The half-term fun starts at Whitby Abbey with Vikings! The resident Viking offers their fierce sword fighting skills and teachings about of the Nordic way of living (15-23 February) while Hidden Horizons will be running their Dalby Adventure Club (18-20 February) for children aged 8-12, where bushcraft, den building, orienteering, environmental art, river dipping and mini-beasts, wildlife watching, food foraging, or camp fire cooking coud be on the menu.
You'll find plenty of family-based daytime Dark Skies activities going on at our two National Park Centres. At The Moors National Park Centre, drop in events include our Galatic Treasure Hunt (17 February), Moonrock Geocaching or our Young Artist Workshop: Inspired by… “The Starry Night” (both 20 February). Booking is required for Tuesday Trails and Tales for trails, storytelling and crafts with a galactic twist (18 February) or Stargazing Crafts (22 February).
Over at Sutton Bank, our Ryevitalise team will be on hand to help answer one of the world’s most asked questions… Can Fish See in the Dark (18 and 20 February - drop in events). Little Boots Wednesday includes space crafts as well as a lunar trail or join the wildlife club and create a bird feeder (both 19 February, booking required).
Other great events and exhibitions
For those that prefer a shorter distance, the No Ego Torch Challenge is a 5 mile evening race around Dalby Forest on 1 February. Don't forget your head torch!
The Redcar and Cleveland’s Winter Walking Festival continues until 3 February, with plenty of walks to pick, from 1 to 9 miles, plus a chance to have a go at Nordic walking.
Get hands-on and join Hidden Horizons for Dalby Diddys forest school for preschool children (various dates Tuesdays-Thursdays). Both you and your little ones will have the chance to explore the forest and take your pick from splashing in a stream with dinosaurs and bug hunts to cooking and craft activities.
A welcome sight heralding the end of winter is the 'white carpet' of snowdrops on Burton Agnes' woodland walk. Their annual Snowdrop Spectacular runs from 7 February to 1 March. There's also a stunning display at Mount Grace Priory, where an estimated million-plus bulbs will be bursting into life throughout the grounds and woodland (open weekends only, daily during half-term then open Wednesdays-Sundays).
Well-known for its friendliness, the Sinnington Hunt hosts its annual point to point within the grounds of Duncombe Park (9 February). The card kicks off at 12.30pm.
Throughout the Dark Skies Festival and running through to 23 March, we will be hosting Until the Stars Come Out, an exhibition in our Studio Gallery that takes inspiration from our dramatic dark skies, moody panoramas and star-filled nightscapes featuring a cross-cutting selection of works by those who ‘watch the stars come out’ in the North York Moors.
In the main Inspired by… gallery, A First Glimpse is our opening exhibition for 2020, where we highlight work from artists, photographers and printmakers that make up this year’s programme, feauturing special work by artisan glass-makers Gillies Jones in their 25th anniversary year, award-winning textile artist Amanda Cobbett, acclaimed landscape painter Len Tabner, and inaugural North York Moors National Park Trust Art Award winner Ian McCulley.
Scarborough's Coastival packs plenty in over three days (21-23 February), from music to visual and performing arts, you're bound to find something of interest.
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