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10 things to do at the Dark Skies Festival in the North York Moors

10th February - 26th February

The North York Moors National Park is a stargazer’s paradise, with some of the best dark skies in the country. As such it is one of only 20 locations in the world to be recognised for pristine, dark skies and given International Dark Sky Reserve status, awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association.

It’s all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result, with events throughout the year.

In 2023, North York Moors are delighted to be showcasing an eighth Dark Skies Festival, full of activities and opportunities to appreciate the wonders of the night sky.

Have a look for some ideas on the best locations for stargazing to discover more about their star-studded events.

Here are some of the highlights of what you can expect this year. For full details on the whole programme of events click here.

1) Nocturnal Adventures (various dates and locations)

Discover the forest by night. Venture out with the Forest Ranger stalking through the woodland to try and catch a sound or glimpse of wildlife with your night vision equipment – patience and stealth are key. Also on a clear night learn about the stars and revel in the beauty of the night sky.

Cost: Adult/Child £12 (minimum age 10 years old)

For more information, please click here.

2) Mindful Night Walk in Whitby

15 February, (7pm - 8:30pm)

Join Whitby YHA for a guided walk around the Abbey headland featuring stargazing, wildlife, historic views of Whitby by night and more!

It's a family event for all ages.

Refreshments will be included afterwards.

Cost: Adult £8, Children under 8 are free.

For more information, please click here.

Image credit: Glen Fitzpatrick

3) Astrophotography events (various dates and locations)

A great opportunity to learn how to take the best night-time shot, given by some of the most experienced photographers in the region.

Full instructions will be given on how to get the correct exposure and how to improve your compositions in these 2 hours outdoor workshops.

Cost: £25-£40

For more information, please click here.

4) Stargazing Talk and Constellation Crafts

22 February, (1pm - 2pm)

Join Sophie at Cosmic Wonders who runs interactive, engaging, and educational sessions that will inspire your children to look up in wonder.

In this session, learn about the night sky with a stargazing talk and then recreate the constellations with a craft activity.

Another session available at 2.30pm.

For more information, please click here.

Image credit: Martin Whipp

5) Creatures of the Night Trail - Daytime Activity

11 February - 6 April

Brush up on your investigative skills and search for nocturnal animals. Complete the challenges to claim your prize. Fun for all the family. You can access the trail at either the Danby Lodge or Sutton Bank National Park Centre.

Drop in any time between 10.30am – 3pm

Cost: FREE for adult. Child - £3 (with prize)

For more information, please click here.

6) Night Navigation Experience - Learn how to go walking at night!

10 February, (6:45pm - 9:45pm)

Join one of our expert leaders for a fun few hours navigating in the hills, moorlands and woods long after the sun has gone down. We'll teach you the ins-and-outs of navigating at night, sharing invaluable tips and methods to help you find your way with confidence.

Over 3 hours of learning with a small group, you’ll improve your night navigation abilities under the stars in a designated International Dark Sky Reserve.

Cost: £30 (suitable for ages 14+ only)

For more information, please click here.

7) Dalby Forest Stargazing with Astro Dog

10 February - 26 February

Join Astro Dog for a magical evening of stargazing in Dalby Forest.

Running a stargazing session every night during the Festival. 7.30pm start. Events sell quickly so don't delay booking!

Cost: Adult - £20. Child - £15 (Up to 15 years)

For more information, please click here.

Image credit: Steve Bell

8) Bat Box Workshop - Tees Valley Wildlife Trust

25 February, (3pm - 4:30pm)

Come along and chat with Cleveland Bat Group.

Find out what it takes to be a bat carer or surveyor. Build your own bat box to take home, as well as other bat crafts.

Hot drinks included.

For more information, please click here.

9) Sutton Bank Walk - White Horse

15 February, (5:30pm - 8:30pm)

Once described by James Herriot as the finest view in England, what better place to start your dark skies adventure. Heading off across Roulston Scar, where ancient tribes dating back to 400BC roamed this impressive plateau. From the plateau we descend down to the famous Kilburn White Horse, before heading back up to the top and across to White Mare crag where Sir Harry De Scriven met his fate one stormy night.

Cost: £30

For more information, please click here.

10) CPRE Star Count 2023

17 February - 24 February

Become a ‘citizen scientist’ and take part in our Star Count, a cosmic census to map light pollution.

We’ll be asking you to choose a clear night between 17 - 24 February and look to the skies to see how many stars you can spot within Orion.

Star-filled skies are one of the most magical sights our countryside has to offer. We want to reconnect people across the country with the wonder of a truly dark sky.

Cost: Free

For more information, please click here.

Image credit: Stuart Atkinson

Book your stay

Don’t forget, you could extend your stay in the area with a stop over at one of many Dark Skies Festival accommodations across the National Park.

A great chance to relax and enjoy the night’s sky at your own leisure.

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