While 2020 is being hailed as the year that space travel becomes a reality, the fifth Dark Skies Festival will show just how much visitors can enjoy the cosmos without leaving planet Earth.
Held jointly by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, the 17-day festival will comprise of more than 100 events including virtual space travel, stargazing safaris, after-dark runs, talks and crafting sessions.
Running from 14 February to 1 March, the festival coincides with the February half-term holidays, offering an exciting way to keep the kids entertained over the week.
New events in the 2020 festival include an evening with renowned astronomy professor, Andy Newsam, who will reveal how next-generation telescope technology will revolutionise how people can explore the universe from the comfort of their own home. Other new events will capitalise on how the darkness of the National Parks’ skies, as a result of low light pollution, can be harnessed for our health. Adventures for the Soul will be staging yoga and mindfulness sessions at Great Fryup Dale, before leading people on a guided night walk in the peaceful countryside.
The new moon of late February will make the stars brighter than ever during the festival’s stargazing sessions. These include evenings at the remotely beautiful Blakey Ridge, where visitors can enjoy a safari across the night sky as an astronomer identifies the galaxies and constellations. For the thrill of being in the countryside after dark, visitors can hone their night navigation skills, or enjoy a guided run under a canopy of stars. The True Grit cycling event will also be returning to the festival, offering a 50-mile, off-road night time adventure.
Activities for youngsters include a planet trail through the scenic Yorkshire Dales, along with rocket and planet making. Other popular features include a night photography course, gaze and graze evenings (dining paired with astronomy) and nocturnal wildlife sessions.
For more information, visit the Dark Skies website.
Words by Riana Dixon