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VISIT HELMSLEY NEWS • Updated , 10:25 am

Host of new star-studded events lined-up

A star-filled sky is one of nature’s most natural wonders! But they’re become harder than ever to experience. In an urban area you’ll be lucky to see 20 stars on a clear night but in an area of low light pollution, such as in our National Parks, you could see as many as 2,000 twinkling above you.

National Parks are a stargazer’s paradise, with some of the best night skies in the country and we are excited to celebrate this at our annual Dark Skies Festival. It’s all about discovering, learning and enjoying the dark and the stars you can see as a result, with events suitable for all ages.

Since 2016’s inaugural event, the Dark Skies Festival has become an unmissable fixture in the calendar! For 2018, the organisers, the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Northumberland and South Downs National Park Authorities have extended the Festival from nine to 17 days (Friday 9 to Sunday 25 February).

For 17 days, the National Parks will be filled with activity and awe-inspiring adventure to get you out and exploring our night sky. With more than 50 events planned, the stellar line-up includes astro-photography workshops, planetariums, ghost walks, dark runs, owl prowls and for adrenaline junkies – a pitch black night zip. Thrill seekers will be able to plunge more than 200 metres into the darkness of Dalby Forest courtesy of Go Ape.

Visitors will also be able to indulge in an evening’s stargazing against the backdrop of some of our most historical landmarks.

In the Yorkshire Dales, embark on a celestial safari in the grounds of Bolton Castle near Leyburn in the company of astronomer Richard Darn while being treated to mulled cider and innovative canapés made with local produce by talented chef Guy Fairhurst.

There’ll be more opportunities for activity seekers to experience caving, cycling, walking or running under the night sky, including a new gravel biking event run by Yorkshire True Grit at Newburgh Priory near Easingwold.

Throughout the Festival, the North York Moors National Park will be hosting two exhibitions that take inspiration from our dramatic night skies. Featuring local artists, photographers and jewellery makes, our Inspired by… gallery will be showcasing a stunning display of the National Park’s dark side.

The 2018 Festival will include numerous family-friendly events too. As well as watching the dark skies’ star-studded cast within the National Parks and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, youngsters will be able to get crafty making rockets, telescopes and planet lanterns.

You’ll also find events at other times of the year; check the event listings in your area to find out what’s happening.

See you in February 2018!

Bookings and information

Advance bookings and payment are essential for many of the festival events, unless stated as a drop-in event. Booking details are included under each individual event. Please note:

  • Children are welcome at most events but minimum ages may apply.
  • Dogs are allowed at some events, but must be kept on a short, fixed lead at all times.
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear is essential. Wrap up warm especially for evening outdoor activities! A torch could be useful too.
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