Away from the twinkling lights of the region’s towns and cities, the North York Moors is the perfect Yorkshire setting for discovering the wonder of the starry skies. In fact, it’s one of only twenty locations in the world to hold International Dark Sky Reserve status!
The Dark Skies Festival is one of the best events of the year, and the perfect antidote to modern life. It promotes an understanding and appreciation of astronomy and the delights of the night sky through inspiring events for all ages. Book one of the many activities and create lasting memories while you share the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe. The Dark Skies Fringe Festival 2024 runs from 9th to 25th February 2024, and it’s a great excuse for a trip to one of our favourite parts of Yorkshire. There are lots of fun, family-friendly things to do at this year’s festival, so why not check out the programme and get them in the diary? Don’t let the February weather put you off: just wrap up warm, take a flask and make some memories. Some activities need pre-booking, so do plan ahead.
Here’s our pick of the best things to do for all ages at the Dark Skies Festival 2024
1. Nocturnal Adventures with Forest Holidays – Explore the forest by night and discover the magic as it comes to life when the sun goes down. Venture out with your very own Forest Ranger and night vision gear. Our Forest Rangers know the very corners of the forest that you’re likely to catch a glimpse of wildlife in their natural habitat. You’ll enjoy a powerful reconnection with the natural world – and find that forest feeling. This adventure is taking place every Wednesday and Sunday evenings throughout the Dark Skies Fringe Festival and is open to all from the age of ten and up. Cropton Cabins, YO18 8ES, £10 per person. To book, call 01751 417591
2. Constellation rubbing trail at Danny Lodge National Park Centre AND Sutton Bank National Park Centre – Come and try our new permanent Dark Sky themed rubbing trail at Danby Lodge National Park Centre. Explore the grounds and find the constellation rubbing plaques, use your brass rubbing crayon and discover the 10 different constellations hidden for you to find. This is a drop-in event, no booking is required, but please check visitor centre opening hours before visiting. Danby Lodge National Park Centre YO21 2NB/Sutton Bank National Park Centre YO7 2EH – £3 per person
3. Winter Owl Evening – Wrap up warm and visit the National Centre for Birds of Prey for a magical “must-do” evening event with the world’s most famous nocturnal birds. You will start the evening with a mulled wine or hot, spiced apple juice, and will then head out to meet the aviary owls, the centre is lit only by lanterns and fairy lights to enhance the atmosphere. Then head up to the Xmas Tree Cottage to see some of the tiny owls flying. After finishing the tour of aviary owls you will go to the Owl House Café for a 2 course meal. £45 per person – Suitable for children aged 8+ – 27th January 2024 – Visit the website for details
4. Stargazing in Dalby Forest – Join the iconic Astro Dog team for 2 hours of stargazing in Dalby Forest. During the event, you will enjoy a guided tour of the night sky, learn about asterisms, constellations, how to navigate the night sky and how to identify objects. Learn about what you can see in the night sky, plus tips and tricks from Astro Dogs experienced astronomers. You will be amazed by views of deep space objects, using professional astronomy equipment including binoculars and large aperture telescopes, to view an array of stunning deep space objects including stars, star clusters, planets, galaxies, and nebulae. There are also dark skies experiences at Sutton Bank. Adult £25/child £20 – Various dates – Visit the website for details
5. Dark Skies Crafts (14th February 2024) – Head to Danby Lodge National Park Centre for family-friendly astro-crafting. Learn all about the dark skies above us while creating something to take home. You could also follow the new constellation rubbing trail that is on the gounds while you’re there. Book your place: Dark Skies crafts.