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 a wonderful family-friendly event that promotes an understanding and appreciation of astronomy and the delights of the night sky. 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 2023 runs from 27th October to 5th November 2023. 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? Some need pre-booking so it does pay to be organised.
Here’s our pick of the best things to do for all ages at the Dark Skies Fringe Festival 2023
1. Nocturnal Adventures (various dates and locations) – Join Forest Rangers for an adventure under the stars, just as the forest comes to life. Did you know? Your senses are super-heightened at night, so you’ll be extra tuned-in to all the animal calls. Step into a forest full of wonder…something magical happens when the sun goes down. Adult/child £12 – Find out more here
2. NYMR Light Spectacular – The Light Spectacular returns to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway this October half term! Marvel at the heritage carriages, decorated with 17 thousand synchronised LEDs, before departing from Pickering Station for an awe-inspiring journey alongside a DJ mix of music, compered by Voiceover Man, that will get you in the mood for a party the whole family will enjoy. 27th October to 5th November and 10th to 12th November 2023; visit the website for more info
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+ – 28th October 2023 – 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. £25 per person – Various dates – Visit the website for details
5. Dark Skies Festival Night Walk – Join Large Outdoors for a special Dark Skies Festival night walk along footpaths and trails around the village of Lastingham in the North York Moors, a designated International Dark Sky Reserve. During this 3-hour experience, you will wander in awe as you walk under a truly dark sky, switch off from everyday life as you absorb the feeling of remoteness from the towns and villages beyond and enjoy walking with an experienced guide and a group of fellow star chasers. £15 per person – Suitable for ages 10+ – Visit the website
6. Planetarium show – we are aliens! – Join Cosmic Wonders in their planetarium dome and join in on the search for alien life! This event is suitable for all ages and a ticket must be purchased for every person entering the dome. Adult/child £8 – Under 5s go free and under 12s must be accompanied by an adult – Visit the website