Dark Skies Festival

Cumbria is renowned for having some of the darkest skies in the UK, with thousands of stars visible on a clear night and The Milky Way stretching majestically above – Winter is truly a magical time of year to escape the city lights and take in our incredible star-laden skies.

The Cumbria Dark Skies Festival is taking place between 5 – 14 November 2021 at locations across the county, with a variety of activities suitable for all ages – It’s the perfect way to discover our stargazing opportunities, learn more about the constellations, and be blown away by the beauty of the Lake District after dark!

If outdoor adventure is up your alley, then head along to Whinlatter Forest, England’s only true mountain forest. A series of family-friendly walks and trail runs will be happening here as night draws in, look for the stars above and discover the different sounds and sights of the forest after dark.

Or how about a guided stargazing night-time swim at Ullswater? A unique experience for those who are willing to take the plunge. Let the glow of your light-up tow float keep you company under the stars while you swim under The Milky Way.

Wrap up warm and head along to Grizedale Forest, where the popular Intrastellar installation by artist, Steve Messam will be hosted for one night only on 6 November. Perfect for all ages! Both adults and children will love the illuminated orbs floating majestically on Grizedale Tarn.

Photo by Steve Messam, courtesy of Forestry England

The rockpools at Parton near Whitehaven are full of weird and wonderful marine life and there is no better way to explore their world than when they are heading out to hunt under the cover of darkness. Discover UV Rockpooling with Cumbria Wildlife Trust and view the shimmering seaweeds, twinkling stinging cells, starfish and eerie luminescent prawns beneath the starry skies.

Join Path to Adventure for a memorable evening of food, spoon whittling and stargazing around the campfire, or how about a tranquil night-time canoe paddle under the vast night sky? Or get creative with a relaxing dark skies pastel painting class directed by local landscape artist and curator, Emma Hunt.

Dark Sky Canoeing

Gaze at the craters on the moon and the smooth lunar seas through telescopes at the Eddington Astronomy Society. If you are lucky, you may even see Jupiter with its cloud belts and several moons – Society members will be on hand to teach you about the universe above, but make sure you wrap up warm with hats and gloves.

There’ll also be an online LUniverse Planetarium where youngsters can explore the wonders of the skies above the UK on this whistle-stop virtual tour - but don’t worry there’s an adult version of the planetarium show too!

If you are looking to experience unrivalled dark-sky viewing from the comfort of your stay, then there are plenty of accommodation providers who specialise in stargazing stays – Many who have skylights or panoramic windows for all-night viewing.

Dark Sky Bedroom

And for the ultimate stargazing experience, check out the stargazing packages and activities that many local businesses are offering throughout the winter season! From guided night-time mountain walks, to ‘stargazing rucksacks’ packed with everything you need for your own private viewing, complete with telescopes and mugs of hot chocolate to keep you warm and cosy.

Find the full programme of Dark Skies Festival events here.

The Cumbria Dark Skies Festival is a partnership of Cumbria Tourism, Friends of the Lake District, Forestry England and the Lake District National Park Partnership.




Comments are disabled for this post.