Stargazing festival returning to North York Moors this half term

141021 - Dark Skies 1 - North York Moors

The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks’ Dark Skies Fringe Festival returns this half-term (22-31 October) after the success of the first autumn event last year.

Within the North York Moors National Park, visitors will be able to enjoy a programme of events, including some online – from stargazing safaris, guided night walks and astrophotography evenings through to zip wire adventures and a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s Light Spectacular steam train.

The organisers say the event is designed to act as a reminder that everybody can help protect the pristine night skies, not just for the benefit of people’s wellbeing but also safeguarding nocturnal wildlife.

In particular Mike Hawtin, the North York Moors National Park Dark Skies Officer, will share the National Park’s own journey to achieving International Dark Sky Reserve status last year and future plans.

He will also outline the steps that everybody can take to curb artificial light pollution, even if it is simply adjusting exterior lighting on homes and business premises to reduce glare.

Credit: North York Moors

Underlining this message, stargazing and walking evenings will reveal the night-time splendour at natural beauty spots such as Mallyan Spout waterfall, the dramatic escarpment of Sutton Bank and the Wainstones sandstone crags.

Historic landmarks like the abbeys at Rievaulx, Byland and Whitby and Gilling Castle near Ampleforth will also act as stunning backdrops while visitors have their eyes opened to the delights of the night sky.

Perennial favourites such as the twilight zip wire experience at Dalby Forest, a smuggler’s walk at Robin Hood’s Bay, together with mindfulness meanders and night navigation hikes at various locations are also included in this year’s line-up.

For youngsters, there are also daytime activities at Sutton Bank and The Moors National Park Centre at Danby where they can learn more about nocturnal wildlife including joining a storyteller under the Story Tree to listen to tales of stars, bats and badgers.

Mike Hawtin, Dark Skies Officer for the North York Moors National Park, comments: “We’re keen for everybody visiting the Fringe Festival to have fun and revel in being outside after-dark, but there is a serious message to take away as well – that we can all do our bit to protect our night skies.