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Best Stargazing Spots and Dark Sky Activities in Great Britain

Tuesday 13 September 2022
A mother and her two sons exploring the Dark Sky Discovery Trail in Exmoor Park

Following NASA's unveiling this week of four draw dropping images that showcase our universe unlike anything we've ever seen before, the world is looking up as we enter a new era of space observation. For those left enthralled by the spellbinding beauty of our cosmos, we wanted to place on your radar some of the best stargazing spots and activities in Great Britain which is home to six International Dark Sky Reserves and several Dark Sky Parks, all designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

 

Free from air and light pollution, Britain's International Dark Sky Places deliver unforgettable views of the Milky Way, meteors, and even the Northern Lights from sites in Scotland and northern England. These places are also home to annual Dark Skies Festivals and seasonal dark sky programs, which celebrate the night skies and the eclectic mix of wildlife found in Britain’s National Parks.

 

- Six National Parks in Great Britain have been awarded International Dark Sky Reserve Status by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

The six National Parks include: Exmoor, Brecon Beacons, Moore’s Reserve in the South Downs, Snowdonia, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. More details on Dark Sky Reserves here.

 

- Britain is home to several International Dark Sky Parks including Northumberland (Gold Tier Status), Elan Valley in Wales as well as Galloway Forest Park and Cairngorms in Scotland. More details on Dark Sky Parks here.

 

The combined area of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales is the largest protected park area in Britain and one of the biggest in Europe, with combined cover over 3,500 km2 of northern England.

 

Four national parks where you can experience dark sky activities first hand in Britain

Green Space Dark Skies

8 events throughout the summer until September 2022

As part of the UK’s new UNBOXED 2022 festival, visitors and locals alike are invited to light up the British countryside and take part in a series of mass countryside gatherings, inviting up to 20,000 people to experience beautiful landscapes across the UK. The events at dusk will celebrate nature, highlight our responsibility to protect it and encourage more people to visit who would not usually experience the countryside. Using low impact lights, each participant will be part of creating magical moments outdoors at National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Visitors can enjoy the spectacle and experience the beauty of these stunning locations under glittering night skies.

 

Exmoor National Park

13 – 30 October 2022

As the first Dark Sky Reserve in the UK / Europe (designated in 2011 by the IDA), Exmoor’s low light pollution levels create the perfect conditions for stargazing. The annual Exmoor Dark Skies Festival offers a range of tours, activities and stargazing events for those of all ages. During the festival the park will put on 50 events including owl experiences, wildlife Land Rover dusk safaris, talks with astronomers, and night hikes complete with a homely supper.

 

North York Moors National Park

21 – 30 October 2022/ February 2023

The latest National Park to join the International Dark Sky Reserve family (alongside Yorkshire Dales), North York Moors is home to several events and activities throughout the year that celebrate the night sky. Their annual celestial celebration is in February and visitors can discover activities such as night runs, zip wires, kayaking and biking, astrophotography workshops, stargazing safaris, children's trails and mindful experiences. Following the popularity of the February dark skies celebrations, there is now another bumper week of events held at the end of Autumn during their Dark Skies Fringe Festival (21 – 30 October 2022). The National Park also offers an online guide to the area's Dark Sky-friendly businesses.  

 

South Downs National Park

February 2023

Another Dark Skies Festival is held in the South Downs annually in February. The two-week festival includes a stellar line up of talks, observation sessions and family-friendly activities. Visitors can also wander the fairy-tale battlements of Arundel Castle and explore Britain’s longest and deepest dry valley at Devil’s Dyke within the stunning surroundings of Britain’s newest National Park.

 

More information about Britain’s Dark Sky festivals and events can be found on www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk

 

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For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

pressandpr@visitbritain.org