Cumbria Dark Skies

This February, Cumbria’s Dark Skies Festival returns to highlight the magic of the night sky, with a stellar events programme packed with art, outdoor adventure and plenty more.

Held for two weeks, from 12th - 26th February, the festival offers a wide array of starlit events across the Lake District, Cumbria. There’s something for everyone to enjoy: so whether you’re a stargazing enthusiast or just want to get involved, you’re sure to find an event for you.

Did you know that Cumbria has some of the darkest skies in the country? Join us to connect with our beautiful landscapes after dark, and enjoy a magical stargazing experience. Here are a few of our highlights from the festival (they’re booking up fast, so make sure to reserve your space to avoid missing out!). Check out the full festival programme here.

Dark Sky Canoeing with Path to Adventure

Dark Sky Canoeing with Path To Adventure

  • 16th & 23rd February
  • Coniston Water

Experience something truly unique, with a night-time canoe paddle on Coniston Water, in the heart of the Lake District, Cumbria. Row beneath the beautiful, star filled night sky as you take a tour of Coniston Water. Stop off at the famous Swallows and Amazons island for a warming brew, and pause for a moment to gaze at the night sky, identify some constellations, and see the beauty of the Milky Way.

Dinner and Stargazing

Astrophotography with Ben Bush

  • 25th February
  • Grizedale Forest

Have you always wanted to capture breathtaking photos of the night sky? This workshop with award-winning photographer Ben Bush will help you learn how to do just that - using basic camera gear combined with a few special techniques! Learn what can be captured on camera, and join Ben as he shows you around the night sky, with telescopes on hand to take a closer look at distant galaxies 2.537 million light years away. 

The Big Switch Off

  • 26th February
  • Ambleside & Grasmere

See more of the stars and celebrate the dark skies of the Lake District, Cumbria, with Ambleside & Grasmere’s ‘Big Switch Off’! Community groups, residents, local businesses and Cumbria Highways will be joining together to switch off the lights, encouraging us all to take a moment to reflect and enjoy the beauty of the night sky in its full splendour.

Forest Landscape Cyanotypes

Forest Landscape Cyanotypes

  • 26th February
  • Grizedale Forest

Create your own cyanotypes with award winning photographer, Chris Routledge. Learn how to prepare the photographic paper, before heading out into Grizedale Forest to take photos of the landscape using your phone or camera. Then, it’s time to return to the studio to transfer your digital image onto acetate, and then onto your photographic paper to create at least one striking cyanotype to take home. In the forest centre gallery, the Earth Photo exhibition will be open to visit during the break.

Dark Sky Cumbria

Forest Bathing with the Snow Moon and Stars - Delyth Johnson

Enjoy a truly restorative experience with this forest bathing experience in Grizedale Forest. Beneath the full moon, you’ll gather around the fire to say goodbye to what is no longer needed, with the flames acting as a purifying force. Finish with warm cacao and emerge refreshed and renewed.

Stargazing Night Swims

Head out for a wild swim with a difference, as open water swimming expert Colin Hill guides you on a night time dip in Ullswater. You’ll discover all the night sky has to offer as you take a dip beneath the magical glow of the Milky Way. Equipment, a safety brief and guide are all included in these hour long sessions. 

Dark Sky Cumbria - Photo: Steve Cooling
Photo: Steve Cooling

The Dark Sky Above Us

Head to Sedbergh for a free exhibition entitled ‘The Dark Sky Above Us’, held by the Sedbergh & District History Society in the impressive St Andrew’s Church. Entry is free and the exhibition is open during daylight hours, making this a great visit while exploring all that the charming town of Sedbergh has to offer.

If you’re visiting us for the Dark Skies Festival, we hope you have a wonderful time. Book your accommodation here, and check out what else there is to do while you’re visiting us here. To receive all the latest news and special offers from the Lake District, Cumbria, subscribe to our free newsletter here.




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