North York Moors Dark Skies Harome

The North York Moors National Park has some of the darkest skies in the UK – so there is no better place to witness them.

The Dark Skies Festival celebrates this, with a healthy dose of national park culture thrown in the mix. For 2019 the festival theme is The Moon, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

There’s a packed programme of events taking place across the North York Moors between 15 February – 3 March, with over 90 events across 17 days. There’s something for everyone from star crazy astrologers, families to the curious. With so much going on we've put together a roundup of highlights for this year’s festival.

For Astronomy Lovers and the Curious

Around 80% of the world’s population live under light polluted skies, which leaves us asking what do we lose when we lose sight of the stars? Enjoy exclusive screenings of Saving the Dark, a documentary film that explores the need to preserve night skies and what we can do to combat light pollution at The Yorkshire Arboretum. The film will be followed by a stargazing session where you’ll explore the wonder of the night sky under the guidance of the experts. A must see for the astrology fanatic is the ‘Search for Dark Matter’ exhibition, where you’ll find out more about planetary exploration and the search for extra-terrestrial life and cosmic radiation.

Wildlife Discoveries

Grab your torch and go on a guided tour through the woodland as you try to find the iconic nocturnal beauty, the Owl. After the tour don’t miss the live demonstration where these winged wonders will take centre stage. One of the best ways to catch a glimpse of wildlife in the dark is through night vision equipment. Discover your stealthy skills and with some patience you will be in for a visual treat – with tours taking place at Cropton and Keldy.

Fun for the Family

Have you ever wanted to fly through the night sky? Those brave enough can experience 200 metres of uninterrupted flight as you plunge into the darkness of Dalby Forest at GoApe. If heights aren’t your thing and you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, go on an adventure using a GPS unit to hunt down the hidden space themed clues around The Moors National Park Centre in Danby. Get hands on fun have a go at making rockets you can launch into the sky or design a fabulous alien spaceship to take home.

Tales of Smuggling and Spooky Sightings…

Robin Hood’s Bay is arguably the picture-postcard destination of the National Park (and there’s so many to choose from!) offering, in my opinion, the best coastal scenic view in the country. Did you know the coastline was once a hotbed of illegal activity and has a spooky tale or two, where smugglers, shipwrecks and spiritual mysteries linger? If you’re feeling brave embark on one of the smuggling or ghost walks. Selected walks also include the opportunity to sample some of the locally brewed beer.

North York Moors Dark Skies Saltwick Bay

Our Dark Skies Festival Top Tips

The winter months may be coming to an end but don’t forget you’ll be exposed to the elements. It’s recommend that you wrap up warm. Remember to stock up on supplies of food and drink. Who doesn’t love a flask full of hot chocolate? Some events provide refreshments, but we would advise double checking online just in case.

As well as some snacks and hot drinks, bring along y.our mobile phone. It is an incredibly handy tool and can act as a compass or you can download apps to help you navigate the night sky.

You can only see so far with the naked eye, so don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars, however, the top tip we can offer is to remain patient. Cloud cover is ever changing and it can take at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Patience is the key to helping you make the most of your Dark Skies experience.

Time To Start Planning

We’ve only been able to tell you about a handful of events (there’s over 90 taking place!) so get online and start planning your itinerary. Don’t forget to snap away and share your Dark Skies Festival experiences on social media using #Darkskies.

The festival is hugely popular and for this reason some events sell out in advance. Please keep checking the event website regularly to avoid disappointment. Signing up to the North York Moors National Park newsletter is a great way of keeping up to date with the latest Dark Skies Festival updates and wider news.

Now is the time to wrap up and start exploring!

To view all of the events and festivals happening in and around York visit our What's OnShare your Dark Skies adventures with us on social media using #OnlyinYork and @VisitYork.

Visit York Blog Written By Ryan Harper