National Parks Dark Skies Festival 2017

The National Parks Dark Skies Festival this year runs from the 18th to 26th February 2017.

During this period there will be numerous activities and events taking place within the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and South Downs National Parks. All events are suitable for families and therefore offer a great opportunity to get outdoors and in the fresh air!

The festival coincides with the Spring half-term period and many events are free or negligible cost. There’s plenty of opportunities to keep the kids occupied during the holidays — what better way to get them away from the TV / computer / console than going stargazing!

What’s more the festival also coincides with a new moon period. This means there is no moon in the sky at night time and the skies are at their darkest! Travelling just a little out of town and away from light pollution means you’ll be able to see thousands more stars than you can at home. Seeing the Milky Way arching across the sky from one horizon to another is a sight that will inspire anyone!


Stargazing events will have astronomers on hand to help you find your way around the sky and you’ll be invited to look through telescopes. There’s plenty of daytime activities too! With everything from rocket building, planetarium shows to making aliens and even a Deck Chair Cinema showing kid’s space movies!

Activities vary from park to park however the theme is the same — learn about our Universe and see it for yourself under the dark skies of our National Parks!

A selected handful of stargazing events from the festival appears below. You can find stargazing events close to you using our events map. For more information about the festival visit the Dark Skies Festival website.

North York Moors National Park

Stargazing Evening at Yorkshire Arboretum

Yorkshire Arboretum, Malton, YO60 7BY

Part of the National Parks Dark Skies Festival this event is being run 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...

Saturday 18th February 2017 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 19th February 2017 from 18:00pm to 19:30pm

Celestial Exploring with Hidden Horizons

Ravenscar Village, Scarborough, YO13 0ET

Join expert astronomer Andy Exton FRAS from Hidden Horizons for this evening of stargazing and observing through large telescopes. You are welcome to bring along your own telescope or binoculars -- hot chocalate and snacks will be provided. Prior...

Tuesday 21st February 2017 from 19:30pm to 22:30pm

Dark Skies at Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank, Near Thirsk, YO7 2EH

Join the York Astronomical Society under the dark skies of Sutton Bank for this evening of stargazing! You are welcome to bring your own telescope if you have one. There'll be interesting talks on astronomy and refreshments available. This event is...

Saturday 25th February 2017 from 19:00pm to 21:00pm

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Stargazing in Sedbergh (location tbc)

Sedbergh, Sedbergh,

Introduction to stargazing and constellations, listen to stories under the stars and have a go at astro-photography.This free event is part of the National Parks "Dark Skies Festival" visit the event website (link below) for actual event...

Monday 20th February 2017 from 18:00pm to 20:00pm

South Downs National Park

Public Observing with Eastbourne Astro

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 18th February 2017 from 18:00pm to 20:00pm

Iping Common Stargazing Party

Iping Common, Near Trotton, GU31

Explore the night sky with powerful telescopes and local astronomy experts.

Tuesday 21st February 2017 from 18:30pm to 22:00pm

Dark Skies Stargazing Party at RSPB Pulborough

RSPB Pulborough Brooks, Pulborough, RH20 2EL

Experience this lovely nature reserve by night at our its first ever Stargazing party!Come along and admire the star studded skies, spot constellations and find craters on the moon as part of the South Downs National Park Dark Skies...

Friday 24th February 2017 from 19:00pm to 19:30pm

Stargazing Events Map

Looking for an organised stargazing event near you? View a map of forthcoming events.

Stargazing Events Calendar

Find future stargazing events using this handy calendar.

Stargazing Location Map

Search for a great place to stargaze using our comprehensive map of stargazing locations.

Dark Skies Calendar

Thinking of travelling to a dark sky site? Check the best dates with our easy to use dark sky calendar.

First Man Festival

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing at our family friendly weekend stargazing festival this July!

Astronomy Equipment

We recommend First Light Optics for their wide range of astronomy products and excellent customer service...

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