February 12th - 28th
Since 2016’s inaugural event, the North Yorkshire collaboration has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar, with the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities celebrating the jewels of the night sky.
Together this year will be different however the national parks still plan to celebrate the sixth Dark Skies Festival. The festival will go fully online following the success of the virtual programme during the Fringe Festival in October. Yorkshire's pristine dark skies will always be there and the festival will do its very best to share this with you, wherever you are in the country!
Whilst nothing beats getting out into the National Park's great wilderness, while we are unable to do this please be reassured that the teams across the national parks are working hard to bring you interactive, inspiring and interstellar presentations across the two weeks. This year's focus is on Nature at Night so look out for lots of animal themed activities for the whole family to enjoy from the safety of your own home.
The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are home to some of the darkest skies in the country, with large areas of unpolluted night sky where it’s possible to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, meteors and even the Northern Lights.
As part of a coordinated approach by the two National Parks, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), has granted Reserve status to both areas, which combined cover over 3500 km2 of northern England. This is by far the biggest such announcement in the UK and represents one of the largest areas in Europe to be simultaneously designated.
Both National Parks have worked hard over several years to achieve this award, gaining support from councils, parishes, landowners, businesses and renowned astronomical experts.
Some of the world’s best stargazing locations are closer to home and the Yorkshire Dales National Park has four Dark Sky Discovery Sites - areas with minimal light pollution and great sightlines of the sky. "One of my favourite places is at Keldy in North Yorkshire" reveals Colin Daley at the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society. "It’s within Forestry Commission land, where there’s very little light pollution."
One of the three Dark Skies Discovery Sites in the North York Moors, Dalby Forest. Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society hold regular stargazing events in Dalby Forest.
Located on the banks of the River Esk, near Danby, this centre is surrounded by moorland, woodland, farmland and historic buildings. It’s a quiet spot in the North York Moors far away from light pollution, making it another special place to view the stars at night.
Famous Yorkshire vet James Herriot named a view from Sutton Bank over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York as the “Finest in England” - but the view at night is just as spectacular. This area is also named as an official Dark Sky Discovery Site.
As the highest pub in Britain, the Tan Hill Inn is unsurprisingly a brilliant place to stargaze. It stands at 1,732 feet above sea level and is situated near the village of Keld. It’s also a top spot to catch a glimmer of the Northern Lights.
The car park at the Dales Countryside Museum, just outside Hawes, is an area with, particularly minimal light pollution. Stargazers can park here for free between 7pm and 6am.
Another great spot to start off your stargazing is Buckden. As a Dark Sky Discovery Site, this location is accessible to all members of the public and is a great place to view the night sky. Check the weather forecast before you set out to ensure you’ll have a clear night.
This is a busy tourist office during the day, but at night the car park transforms into an impressive spot to view the inky, dark skies. There’s free parking in the evenings and it’s fully accessible on foot or by bicycle.