Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
9:00 AM 15th February 2020

Cumbria's Dark Skies Festival Line-Up Revealed

Photo Steve Messam & Forestry England
Photo Steve Messam & Forestry England
A packed programme of events has been revealed ahead of Cumbria’s first Dark Skies Festival, set to take place over the weekend of 21-23 February 2020.

The three-day programme includes sensory twilight strolls, moonlight bike rides, art installations and even a chance to get up-close and personal with rocks from space during fascinating sessions from inside one of the festival’s highlights: A pop-up ‘Dark Sky Planetarium and Meteorite Workshop’, suitable for the whole family.

Further highlights include learning top-tips on astro-photography with the winner of the 2019 ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ competition’s ‘People and Space’ category, Ben Bush.

Photo Steve Messam & Forestry England
Photo Steve Messam & Forestry England
Plus there will be illuminated orbs floating on Grizedale Tarn, designed to interact with the stars and celebrate the forest as a beautiful place to experience dark skies.

The Cumbria-wide festival – which will be held at various locations across the county - has been organised by Cumbria Tourism in partnership with Forestry England, Friends of the Lake District and the Lake District National Park Authority, providing a great opportunity for people of all ages to fall in love with some of the darkest skies in the UK.

Here's a tiny taste:

Friday 21 February:

Lake District Dark Skies Weekend with Calvert Lakes, Keswick*: This fully catered residential weekend gives stargazers the opportunity to take part in a variety of night-sky activities including a special dark skies talk, film night and planetarium visit; and is largely accessible to those with both physical and learning disabilities. *This event also takes place on Saturday and Sunday.
Mountain Bike* and eBike Night Ride at Cyclewise Whinlatter: A great opportunity to meet new people and a chance to see the beautiful winter skies - away from urban light. As you take a break and pull off the trail, don’t forget turn off the lights and enjoy the tranquility of being outside at night. *The Mountain bike event will also be held on Saturday.

Saturday 22 February:

Stargazing with High Tea at Beckfoot Retreat B&B, Ennerdale Water: Witness amazing views of the night skies from Beckfoot Retreat, from where you can follow the path to the water’s edge to enjoy the amazing sight of stars, constellations and possibly the Milky Way reflected in Ennerdale Water.
Exploring the Dark - A walk for wellness at Staveley Roundhouse: Take a night-time stroll from Staveley Village through part of Staveley Woodlands to discover why it’s good for your health and mental wellbeing to get out at night. Experience how all of your senses change as the night draws in, using only red lights - if any!

Sunday 23 February:

Stargazing at Alston Moor Golf Club: One of the best local venues to view the heavens, this stargazing session will be run by well-respected astronomer, Gary Lintern. Suitable for beginners to amateur stargazers, this two hour experience will also include a glimpse at plans for a new observatory at the golf club!
Further events are being held on Sunday, as part of Friday and Saturday’s schedule. See Friday and Saturday’s listings for details (marked with an *).

To find out more information about all of those events and more, visit the Dark Skies Festival websites at Golakes and Friends of the Lake District