National Parks Dark Skies Festival 2018

The 3rd annual National Parks Dark Skies Festival this year runs from the 9th to 25th February 2018.

The festival celebrates the wonderful dark skies that can be seen across a number of regions across our country including the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, South Downs and (new for this year) Northumberland national parks. During the festival numerous astronomy related activities take place, ranging from night time walks with Forest Rangers to stargazing evenings with experienced astronomers, all of which can be enjoyed by families, amateur astronomers of any level and even more experienced stargazers! The festival also includes a number of daytime events for children to take part in over the half term holidays.

Below we’ve listed a selection of stargazing events we know are taking place — check back frequently as more events will be added as they are scheduled — even better sign up to receive email notifications

For more information about the festival including a comprehensive list of all of the different events taking place visit the official Dark Skies Festival website. A complete list of events for the South Downs is available on their site.

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North York Moors National Park

Dark Skies at Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey, Coxwold, YO61 4BD

Take a closer look at the dark skies above Byland Abbey. Expert astronomers will have their telescopes to hand showing you wonders within the constellations above. There are two stargazing sessions this evening, one stargazing at 18:00 and the...

Saturday 3rd February 2018 from 18:00pm to Sunday 4th February 2018 21:00pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins, Pickering, YO18 8HW

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm

Dark Skies at Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey, Coxwold, YO61 4BD

Take a closer look at the dark skies above Byland Abbey. Expert astronomers will have their telescopes to hand showing you wonders within the constellations above. There are two stargazing sessions this evening, one stargazing at 18:00 and the...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 18:00pm to 21:00pm

Stargazing at Scarborough Spa

Scarborough Spa, Scarborough, YO11 2HD

Join the team from Hidden Horizons for this special stargazing event taking place as part of the National Parks Dark Skies Festival 2018. Take a tour of the constellations and, despite the local light pollution, observe distant objects through...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 20:30pm

Stargazing Evening at Yorkshire Arboretum

Yorkshire Arboretum, Malton, YO60 7BY

Explore the wonders of the night sky with the assistance of York Astronomical Society who will be on hand with their telescopes helping you observing star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. If the weather doesn't play ball there will be entertaining...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 22:00pm

Stargazing at Scarborough Spa (Late Night)

Scarborough Spa, Scarborough, YO11 2HD

Join the team from Hidden Horizons for this special stargazing event taking place as part of the National Parks Dark Skies Festival 2018. Take a tour of the constellations and, despite the local light pollution, observe distant objects through...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 21:00pm to 22:30pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Cropton Cabins Holiday Park, Wrelton, YO18 8ES

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Sunday 11th February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm

Dark Skies at Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey, Coxwold, YO61 4BD

Take a closer look at the dark skies above Byland Abbey. Expert astronomers will have their telescopes to hand showing you wonders within the constellations above. There are two stargazing sessions this evening, one stargazing at 18:00 and the...

Sunday 11th February 2018 from 18:00pm to 21:00pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Cropton Cabins Holiday Park, Wrelton, YO18 8ES

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Thursday 15th February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm

"Dark Skies Festival Astrophotography workshop" at Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank, Near Thirsk, YO7 2EH

Come to our Sutton Bank National Park centre and learn how to photograph the contrast of our dark skies and the beautiful stars above. I will also teach you how to create beautiful star trails and other compositions that will leave you and your...

Friday 16th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 22:00pm

Lunar Challenge at East Ayton

East Ayton Village Hall, East Ayton, YO13 9HY

Join members from Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society and discover the wonders of the Moon. Explore mountains and sees on our closest natural satellite through telescopes. This stargazing event takes place as part of the National Parks Dark...

Friday 16th February 2018 from 19:45pm to 21:45pm

Dark Skies at Danby

The Moors National Park Centre, Near Whitby, YO21 2NB

Explore the wonders of the night sky with members of Whitby and District Astronomical Society under the dark skies of the North York Moors. Ideal for the family activities include taking part in a scale solar system demonstration, a presentation on...

Saturday 17th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 21:00pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Forest Holidays Keldy Cabins, Pickering, YO18 8HW

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Wednesday 21st February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons

Ravenscar Village, Scarborough, YO13 0ET

Join local astronomer Andy Exton from Hidden Horizons for this night of exploring the dark skies along the Yorkshire cost. Observe fascinating objects through large aperture telescopes including nebulae, galaxies and star clusters. If you have...

Wednesday 21st February 2018 from 19:30pm to 21:30pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Cropton Cabins Holiday Park, Wrelton, YO18 8ES

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Thursday 22nd February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons

Ravenscar Village, Scarborough, YO13 0ET

Join local astronomer Andy Exton from Hidden Horizons for this night of exploring the dark skies along the Yorkshire cost. Observe fascinating objects through large aperture telescopes including nebulae, galaxies and star clusters. If you have...

Thursday 22nd February 2018 from 19:30pm to 21:30pm

Moon Watching at Chapelgarth

Chapelgarth Estate, Stokesley, TS9 7ET

Visit the wonderful location of Chapelgarth and explore the wonders of the night sky in a traditional "Victorian and Edwardian" polite society style! This is a perfect evening for stargazing novices with telescopes sighting mountains and craters on...

Saturday 24th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 22:00pm

Night Vision with Forest Ranger

Cropton Cabins Holiday Park, Wrelton, YO18 8ES

This night-time nature walk is a great idea for a family evening away in the great outdoors. Listen to the owls as you spot deer using infrared equipment, then gaze up at the dark skies where you will see thousands more stars than you would if you...

Sunday 25th February 2018 from 17:00pm to 18:30pm


Yorkshire Dales National Park

Photograph the Landscape After Dark

Malham Car Park, Skipton, BD23 4DA

Join the team from Yorkshire Photo Walks for this special event photographing the spectacular scenery at Malham Cove. Aimed at confident photographers with basic knowledge and experience.This event is taking place as part of the National Parks...

Friday 2nd February 2018 from 17:00pm to 19:00pm

Night under the stars with Astronomer Richard Darn

Bolton Castle, Leyburn, DL8 4ET

Join experienced astronomer Richard Darn for this special evening under the stars. Set at the fantastic location of Bolton Castle and under the dark skies of Wensleydale you'll be greeted with mulled cider and cosmic canapes! After a beginner's...

Saturday 17th February 2018 from 18:30pm to 22:00pm

Moon Watch - A Night on the Moon

Buck Hotel - Reeth, Richmond, DL11 6SW

Join astronomers from Reeth Informal Astronomy Group for this special evening observing the moon. Explore massive mountain ranges and deep craters on our closest neighbour using telescopes. Take a souvenir photo using your phone! This public...

Friday 23rd February 2018 from 19:00pm to 21:00pm


South Downs National Park

Stargazing South Downs

Midhurst Rother College, Midhurst, GU29 9DT

Join in this free event at Midhurst Rother College with plenty of things to do for all ages! There will be presentations and planetarium shows, numerous astronomy related activities and outdoor stargazing with members from Hampshire Astronomical...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 16:00pm to 21:00pm

Dark Skies at Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey, Battle, TN33 0AD

Hosted in conjunction with English Heritage this event is one of a series of stargazing events taking place at Battle Abbey at weekends in February. Experience the night skies with experienced astronomers and unwind with a hot drink as you listen...

Saturday 10th February 2018 from 17:00pm to Sunday 11th February 2018 20:00pm

Stargazing at Old Winchester Hill

Old Winchester Hill Nature Reserve, Near Corhampton, SO32 3LJ

Join expert astronomers at Old Winchester Hill Nature Reserve for an evening of exploring the dark skies above the South Downs!Note that if the weather is bad on the 15th February the event will move to the 16th February.This is a free event...

Thursday 15th February 2018 from 18:00pm to 21:00pm

Herstmonceux Observatory - Dark Skies Festival 2018

The Observatory Science Centre, Hailsham, BN27 1RN

The observatory will be open for a "Family Dark Skies Day" to help celebrate South Downs National Park being designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. This special open evening of the Herstmonceux Observatory is taking place as part...

Friday 16th February 2018 from 10:00am to 20:00pm

Pullborough Brooks Stargazing Party!

RSPB Pulborough Brooks, Pulborough, RH20 2EL

Experience the wonderful Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve by night at this special stargazing party! Enhoy hot chocolate and nibbles as you gaze at the star studded skies through telescopes. Booking essential! This stargazing event takes place as...

Friday 16th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 21:00pm

Stargazing Evening with Hants Astro

Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton, PO8 0BG

Visit Butser Ancient Farm for a night of stargazing as part of the "Dark Skies at Night 2018" festival organised by South Downs National Park. Enjoy an introductory presentation by Dave Woods from Hampshire Astronomical Society and then step...

Friday 16th February 2018 from 19:30pm to 21:30pm

Herstmonceux Observatory - Dark Skies Festival 2018

The Observatory Science Centre, Hailsham, BN27 1RN

The observatory will be open for a "Family Dark Skies Day" to help celebrate South Downs National Park being designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. This special open evening of the Herstmonceux Observatory is taking place as part...

Saturday 17th February 2018 from 10:00am to 20:00pm

Dark Skies at Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey, Battle, TN33 0AD

Hosted in conjunction with English Heritage this event is one of a series of stargazing events taking place at Battle Abbey at weekends in February. Experience the night skies with experienced astronomers and unwind with a hot drink as you listen...

Saturday 17th February 2018 from 17:00pm to Sunday 18th February 2018 20:00pm

Night hike and stargazing at Harting Down

Harting Down - National Trust, South Harting, GU31 5PN

Join in a night walk up to Beacon Hill along the South Downs Way with hot drinks to finish. Take some binoculars if you have them! This stargazing event takes place in collaboration with the National Trust as part of the National Parks Dark Skies...

Monday 19th February 2018 from 19:00pm to 21:30pm

Stargazing at Devil's Dyke

Devil's Dyke, Brighton, BN1 8YJ

Join expert astronomers with powerful telescopes to explore the dark skies of the South Downs at Devil's Dyke. This event is free of charge however booking is advisable.Note that this event will take place on the 20th February unless the...

Tuesday 20th February 2018 from 18:00pm to Wednesday 21st February 2018 21:00pm

Introduction to Astronomy

Gilbert White Field Studies Centre, Alton, GU34 3JU

Come along for this introduction to astronomy and the fantastic location of Gilbert White Field Studies Centre. The event will include a short talk on astronomy and then an exploration of the night sky lead by astronomer Graham Bryant from...

Wednesday 21st February 2018 from 18:00pm to 22:00pm

Family Space Explorers

Gilbert White Field Studies Centre, Alton, GU34 3JU

This family friendly astronomy taster session includes an amazing presentation in an inflatable planetarium dome and then exploring the night skies above Hampshire. Booking required. This stargazing event takes place as part of the National Parks...

Thursday 22nd February 2018 from 18:00pm to 21:00pm

Night Sky over Whitehill and Bordon

Deadwater Valley Trust - Hogmoor Inclosure, Bordon, GU35 9HL

Join astronomers from Farnham Astronomical Society for this special stargazing event including a talk and observing through telescopes at the wonderful nature reserve at Hogmoor Inclosure. There will be two sessions on the evening, one starting at...

Thursday 22nd February 2018 from 18:00pm to 20:00pm

Dark Skies at Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey, Battle, TN33 0AD

Hosted in conjunction with English Heritage this event is one of a series of stargazing events taking place at Battle Abbey at weekends in February. Experience the night skies with experienced astronomers and unwind with a hot drink as you listen...

Saturday 24th February 2018 from 17:00pm to Sunday 25th February 2018 20:00pm

Stargazing at the Redoubt Fortress

Redoubt Fortress, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQ

Join members of Eastbourne Astronomical Society for one of their public observing sessions at The Redoubt Fortress, event goes ahead all weather with presentations taking place in the Casement. Free of charge, bring your telescope along if you have...

Saturday 24th February 2018 from 18:00pm to 20:00pm



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