ANPA - Association of National Park Authorities

12/09/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/09/2019 03:06

BBC Sky at Night presenter joins line-up for 2020 Dark Skies Festival in Yorkshire

Other new events include virtual reality space safaris, stargazing sleepovers and more dark sky canoeing and zip wire experiences

An evening with BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott will be one of the hot tickets during the 2020 Dark Skies Festival (14 February - 1 March) held jointly by the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.

The popular presenter will be talking about his new book 'The Crowd and the Cosmos - Adventures in the Zooniverse' and showing how, through the power of Citizen Science, anybody can get involved with helping scientists make the next space discoveries.

An evening with Chris Lintott takes place on 21 February at Helmsley Arts Centre, midway through the 17-day annual Festival which showcases the pristine night skies of both National Parks and the neighbouring Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills.

Alongside the perennial favourites - everything from stargazing, astrophotography, canoeing, running, cycling, walking, caving, night zip wire and nocturnal wildlife spotting evenings - there are a number of new events for the 2020 Dark Skies Festival.

For instance, expert astronomer Richard Darn will be leading visitors on a tour of the universe during a star party in the peaceful village of Keld, in Upper Swaledale while guests staying at the Fox and Hounds at Ainthorpe can enjoy an evening meal followed by a stargazing safari with the Whitby & District Astronomical Society.

The North York Moors National Park has also teamed up with View It 360 to tap into some of the latest virtual reality technology. Adults and children alike will be able to don virtual reality goggles that will transport them into space for a 45-minute adventure where they can either fly through galaxies and constellations, passing planets along the way; help repair an international space station or watch the film Apollo 11.

Building on the popularity of the night time canoeing at Scar House Reservoir in Nidderdale, the 2020 Festival will now offer visitors the opportunity to also paddle across the beautifully remote Semerwater in the Yorkshire Dales. Similarly the popularity of hurtling into the darkness attached to Go Ape's zip wire in the North York Moors has led to Low Mill Outdoor Centre in Askrigg setting up its own version of the experience for the Yorkshire Dales.

Particularly as the opening night of the Festival coincides with Valentine's Day, several dark skies-friendly businesses such as B&Bs, self-catering cottages and pubs will have blankets, binoculars, hot chocolate and astronomy guides available so that guests can step outside to simply make the most of eyeing the night skies before retreating back to the warmth of their chosen romantic bolthole.

Creating an air of wonderment to help inspire the next generation will be a recurring theme threading through much of the Festival's programme. Lime Tree Observatory at Grewelthorpe will stage a tour of the solar system aimed at kids, while a host of other locations will be holding galactic treasure hunts, moonrock geocaching events, crafting sessions where rockets and lanterns are created, storytelling evenings, candlelit village walks.

Youngsters can also learn more about the animals that live under the Yorkshire Dales starry skies during A Go Wild! event or simply stargaze while tucking into specially-created starry ice cream flavours at the Wensleydale ice cream parlour which opened this year.

Yorkshire Dark Skies Festival 2020 (14 February-1 March)

Location: Various locations across both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks
Pricing: various - see website for individual pricing details.
See for more information and programme


Notes to editors:

The Dark Skies Festival runs across four protected landscapes - the North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

North York Moors National Park
The National Park is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland, dark skies and historic sites. It was created on 28 November 1952 and became Britain's sixth national park. The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire. Nearly 14% of its staff are apprentices from local families. For more information go to

Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife and a rich heritage. As well as being ideal for those who want to enjoy the outdoors, the National Park offers a wealth of attractions for visitors - from great food and places to eat, castles, abbeys and quirky museums, and opportunities to learn new skills. It is one of 15 National Parks in the UK and is administered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Nidderdale AONB
Nidderdale AONB covers 603 sq km (233 sq miles) from Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales through to the edge of the Vale of York in the East. The fascinating geology of the area which has created a gorge and eye-catching rock formations, together with the tranquil expanses of water, open heather moorland, rolling pastures and scenic villages are among the special qualities of the AONB.

Howardian Hills AONB
Howardian Hills AONB covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a captivating landscape with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, tranquil villages and historic country houses with classic parkland landscapes.

For further information and images please contact Amanda Brown at A2BPR on:
T: 01423 740048
M: 07876 452580
E: [email protected]

Or Charlie Fox, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority:
T: 01439 772700
E: [email protected]

Or Andrew Fagg, Media Officer, at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
T: 01969 652374
E: [email protected]