9th – 25th February 2018

Breath-taking by day and night. The vast open skies of the North York Moors National Park make this a stunning stargazing location with very low light pollution and clear horizons.  In towns and cities you might be fortunate to spot a few stars, from our darkest spots you could see 2000 in one sitting – spectacular!


© Tony Bartholomew
NYMNPA Dark Skies festival event on the coast at Stoupe Brow between Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay.


The 3rd annual Dark Skies Festival is once again a terrific collaboration between our North Yorkshire National Parks, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. 17 festive days full of exciting events in celebration of their amazing Dark Skies status taking place between 9th and 25th February.  It’s all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars. Check out the North York Moors Stargazing guide leaflet  Find the Dark Sky Discovery sites, best places to see the Milky Way, the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) and Meteors (shooting stars). The Moon, Comets, Constellations, Galaxies and The International Space Station ISS. With experts on hand to help you learn and enjoy. Read more here.

Here’s a fact:- The furthest object you can see from the North York Moors with your naked eye is the constellation of Cassiopeia, an incredible 2,500,000 light years away, it is made up of over 3,000,000,000 suns and many more planets.

 ‘The Darker The Sky‘  by Ian McMillan. Yorkshire’s very own Bard.

 A  poem for the National Parks and their Dark Skies Festival

in praise of darker skies and lighter thinking.


© Tony Bartholomew
North York Moors Dark Skies Festival


The Dark Skies Festival includes over 50 fun activities for all ages and abilities getting you out and about on the moors and coast exploring the ‘nocturnal’. To whet your appetite here’s a small sample of some of the surprising activities, many need to be booked in advance and are very popular so get a wiggle on and book some fun. Click here for the full North York Moors programme.


Pitch Black Zip Lining. Go Ape Night Zip in Dalby Forest. Have you ever wanted to fly through the night sky? For the first time ever, adrenaline-seekers can experience 200 metres of uninterrupted flight as you plunge into the darkness of Dalby Forest. Don’t worry you’ll be safely strapped to a zip wire and you get to do it twice!

Even more fun after dark!


Storytelling, Rocket Building, Lantern Making and other crafty activities. Join the YHA for lots of family fun including drop in crafting sessions through the day for children, including rocket builders, planet pompoms, constellation rocks, plus planetarium sessions then in the evening events include an open telescope session where you can peek at the stars and toast marshmallows around the fire.

Danby Moors Centre, Family Fun. Make sparkly stars, balloon rockets and glittering galaxies. We finish with a starry story and a chocolate star or two.

The North York Moors National Park Danby Moors Centre


Ghost Walks. Robin Hood’s Bay Ghost Walk. Journey through the narrow streets and alleyways of Bay as you listen to tales of the strange and supernatural mingling with ancient legends, smugglers, shipwrecks, spiritual mysteries and rip roaring ghost stories.

Whitby holiday ghost tours

Follow me through the snickets and yards


Owl Prowl.  National Centre for Birds of Prey, Duncombe Park, Helmsley. Wrap up warm for a magical “must-do” evening event with the world’s most famous nocturnal birds! Owl Prowl Evenings are a great idea for a night out with family or friends, a present for someone special and are a superb way to treat yourself- the memories will last forever! The evening starts with a mulled wine or hot, spiced apple juice followed by a guided tour of the owls by torchlight. Next is a flying demonstration of the tiny owls by candlelight in Christmas Tree Cottage and finally you see the large owls flying free in the darkness of the woodland flying ground, lit only by torchlight, the highlight of the evening.

Owl Prowl at The National Centre for Birds of Prey


Night Cycle Rides. Night ride at Yorkshire Cycle Hub. A dark skies social ride from Yorkshire Cycle Hub in Fryupdale with food afterwards and an opportunity to view the North York Moors Dark skies in all their splendour from the outside seating area at the Hub. A hearty bowl of something hot will be available afterwards on a pre-paid basis.

Night riding and Light demo evening at Sutton Bank National Park Centre. Tried night riding before? North York Moors National Park is celebrating the big open skies in the Dark Skies Festival. Breath-taking by day and night when the panorama of the dark sky is revealed. There will be 10 demo lights available and we will show you how to work the lights and take you on a guided ride on the Green Route.This event is suitable for families and beginners or cyclists new to night riding.

A new experience – Night Rides


  Enjoy listening to Yorkshire’s very own Bard – Ian McMillan reading ‘The Darker The Sky’  in praise of our Yorkshire dark skies.

‘The Darker The Sky’

A poem for the National Parks and their Dark Skies Festival
In praise of darker skies and lighter thinking

The darker the sky, the more you can see;
The blacker the night, the brighter the Moon,
The dimmer the streets, the stronger the glow
The deeper the shade, the lighter the view.

The map of the heavens, the time and the space
The distance they travel, the cities of stars,
The trail of a comet, the satellite’s stroll
The football of Venus, the beach ball of Mars.

The blindness of headlights, the dazzling fire
The hint of a sunrise, the dawn’s subtle kiss,
The straining of tired eyes, the lamp in the face
The struggle to notice, the sights we all miss.

The hope for the future: the sky’s welcome gleam,
The Milky Way’s jewels, the meteor’s trail
The old constellations, the space-station’s glint.
The inky sea’s waiting; the night boat sets sail!

© Ian McMillan           @IMcMillan

To find out more about Ian McMillan, his poetry and where to see him next CLICK HERE