Cumbria's first Dark Skies Festival is from 21 - 23 February, with events all over the county.

A long weekend packed with dark sky themed activities for all ages, including stargazing, twilight walks, workshops, night mountain bike rides, outdoor night-time art installation, indoor planetarium and more.

Many of the events are outside so do wrap up warm, wear sensible footwear and bring a torch. On stargazing events, binoculars are a great idea to bring along!

Aside from our own programming, all events of the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival are organised by third parties. Friends of the Lake District does not accept responsibility for their delivery or cancellation. Please contact the organisers direct for booking and further information. Download a pdf of all the Dark Skies Festival events here.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

We are sorry to announce that a number of Dark Skies Festival events have been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for this weekend. The events marked in RED will no longer take place.

*The Forestry England event - Whinlatter Dark Skies Walk - scheduled for Sunday at 6:30pm may still go ahead. Forestry England have said: "There is one stargazing walk which may continue on Sunday night at Whinlatter which is already full booked, and this is subject to the site being fully checked." They will be contacting those booked with updates but do contact them directly with any queries.

Anybody booked onto these events will be contacted by organisers but do contact them directly if you have any questions or queries.

Event Venue and postcode

Date
& Time

Booking and
Contact details
Ages
& Cost
Description

Sounds of Dusk (walk)

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Eycott Hill Nature Reserve GR: NY394 302

Friday
21 Feb

4.30 - 6.30pm

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

or tel 01539 816300

free
(donations welcome)

All ages 

WEATHER CANCELLATION: We are sorry to announce that this Dark Skies Festival event organised by Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for Friday. Cumbria Wildlife Trust will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Experience the magic of Eycott Hill at twilight with a walk through this spectacular nature reserve. Listen out for the sounds around you.  You might hear a short-eared owl.  Keep your eyes peeled for badgers and deer!

Nature’s Nightlife at Grizedale Forest

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0QJ

Friday
21 Feb

4.30pm -6.30pm

Grizedale Forest Centre,
Forestry England,
tel: 0300 067 4495 or email [email protected] 

Adults £4 Children £3 (children must be supervised at all times) + parking with charge

All ages 

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Come and enjoy the wonders of the forest under the stars.  An exciting walk into the forest under the cover of darkness. Explore the sounds of the animals and trees, using your senses to inspire music round the campfire. Hot chocolate to accompany star gazing by the fireside. 

Exploring the Dark: Wildlife and Wonders of the Sky

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Solway Wetlands Centre, RSPB Campfield Marsh,
Bowness-on-Solway
CA7 5AG

Friday
21 Feb

6pm

Book here

[email protected]

free entry

All ages 

WEATHER CANCELLATION: We are sorry to announce that this Dark Skies Festival event organised by Solway Coast AONB has been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for this weekend. Solway Coast AONB will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries

Join Solway Coast AONB team for a wander to Rogersceugh, which sits at the top of a glacial drumlin. From here we can catch the evening light disappearing behind the outline of the Scottish hills. Once dark has settled, we will scan the night sky to see what wonders we can identify.

Event involves a gentle walk of approx. 3 miles on paths and boardwalk. Please bring wellies as the ground could be soft and muddy in places.
Wrap up warm. Waterproofs & a torch are essential

Whinlatter Dark Skies Walk

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Whinlatter Forest
Keswick
CA12 5TW

Friday
21 Feb

6.30pm - 8.30pm (approx)

PLEASE NOTE: now Fully Booked.

Book here
Forestry England, Contact [email protected] or
07932 015383 or Whinlatter website

£6 per person or £9 for adult and up to 2 children + parking
charges

All ages 

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

The walk led by mountain leader, Jo Gruchy, will last approx 2 hours taking you on a journey up and around the forest taking in the sights, sounds and smells. There will be opportunities to turn off torches and look to the skies to see the stars and constellations above. 

Lake District Dark Skies Weekend with Calvert Lakes Calvert Lakes Accessible Residential Centre
CA12 4QD

Fri-Sunday 21 - 23 Feb

2 nights; weekend begins from 3pm 21 Feb and finishes 10am 23 Feb

Book here

The Calvert Trust

£149 pp

All ages and abilities

A fully catered residential weekend giving stargazers the opportunity to take part in a variety of night-sky activities as part of Cumbria Dark Skies Festival. This weekend is accessible* to those with both physical and learning disabilities as our centre is fully equipped with a range of specialist equipment. Prices are based on 2 people sharing a twin room. All rooms have ensuite wet rooms.

Mountain Bike Night Ride with Cyclewise at Whinlatter Forest

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Cyclewise Bike Hire and Shop, Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite CA12 5TW

Friday 21
and Sat 22
Feb

5-7pm

Book here

017687 78711 and [email protected]
and www.cyclewise.co.uk

£39 per person (includes bike, helmet & lights hire) + parking charge.
Min age 14 years and with parent/ guardian if under 18 years old.

WEATHER CANCELLATION: We are sorry to announce that the Dark Skies Festival events organised by Cyclewise have been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for this weekend. Cyclewise will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Imagine the sense of adventure, mountain biking on trails after the sun goes down. Pedalling out on a ride after dark has all your senses on high alert, but there is also sense of tranquility, as it is just you, your bike and a beam of light.
riding under the dark sky. A fantastic experience, a great opportunity to meet new people and a chance to see the beautiful winter skies - away from urban light.

Night E-Mountain Biking Guided Ride with Cyclewise at Whinlatter Forest

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Cyclewise Bike Hire and Shop, Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite CA12 5TW

Friday 21
and Sat
22 Feb

5.15pm - 7.15pm

Book here

017687 78711 and [email protected]
and www.cyclewise.co.uk

£49 per person (includes e-bike, helmet & lights hire) + parking charge.

Min age 14 years and with parent/ guardian if under 18 years old.

WEATHER CANCELLATION: We are sorry to announce that the Dark Skies Festival events organised by Cyclewise have been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for this weekend. Cyclewise will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Try a new adventure, with electric mountain biking on trails after the sun goes down. Our e-bikes have 4 modes which assist you as you pedal, so you still get
to exercise, whilst having as much assistance from the motor as you desire -
they're great fun on the uphills, and the descents! Pedalling out on a ride after dark has all your senses on high alert, but there is also sense of tranquility, as it is just you, your e-bike and a beam of light riding under the dark sky.

Dark Skies and Landscape Photography Weekend Beckfoot Retreat B&B
Ennerdale Water,
Nr Croasdale, Ennderdale Bridge
CA23 3AU

4pm Fri 21 – 4pm Sun 23 February

 

Book here

Or contact
[email protected]

Nina Ludgate: 01946748144

Beckfoot Retreat B&B

£295 per person (includes two night full board, dinner, bed and breakfast and packed lunches; £195 per person (non residential) Group and 1-to-1 photography tuition including long exposure dark skies techniques.
adults only

Dark Skies and Landscape Photography Weekend Event
Two nights at Beckfoot Retreat B&B with Full board
Course Tutor:  Frank Clarke of Vision Photography, Lancashire

Arrive Friday afternoon, 21st February, 2020
Briefing and dinner

Saturday, 22nd February
Enjoy photographing the local landscape in the day with a packed lunch
After an early evening meal, set off for long exposure photography of the dark skies – stars, constellations and possibly the Milky Way over Ennerdale Water.

Sunday, 23rd February
Morning photo shoot.
Return for soup and sandwiches followed by
Post editing tuition.
Dark Sky Planetarium and meteorite workshop Ambleside Parish  Centre Vicarage Road, Ambleside LA22 9DH

Sat 22 Feb

10am-3.30pm (in 50 min sessions)

Book here

Friends of the Lake District

£5 per adult; £2.50 per child

All ages

Astronomers from Kielder Observatory will take visitors on a wander through the stars using their state-of-the-art indoor planetarium. This will be combined with a chance to handle rocks from space and learn more about our solar system.

Exploring the Dark; a walk for wellness

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Staveley Mill Yard, Back Lane, Staveley, Cumbria, LA8 9LR

Sat 22 Feb

6-8pm

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

free
(donations welcome)

All ages 

WEATHER CANCELLATION: We are sorry to announce that this Dark Skies Festival event organised by Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been cancelled because of the weather conditions forecast for Friday. Cumbria Wildlife Trust will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Join us for a night-time stroll to discover why it's good for your health and mental wellbeing to get out at night. Experience how all your senses change as night draws in.

Cockermouth Astronomy Society public stargazing event Crow Park, Keswick
CA12 5DJ

Sat 22 Feb

6.30-9.30pm

Facebook event

Jeremy Hunt at [email protected] or
tel: 07535540499 or  Cockermouth Astronomy Society Facebook Page

Free (except for parking in Theatre by the Lake opposite Crow Park)

All ages

Enjoy stunning views of the night sky in a beautiful setting.   Cockermouth Astronomy Society members will guide you around the night sky using a range of telescopes.
Demonstrations of how to take pictures of the night sky using simple equipment.
Specialist low-light astro-video equipment to facilitate group observation of faint objects such as galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. This also makes it simpler for young children and those with disabilities to use the telescopes.
Darkening Skies Pottery Workshop - Development, Design and Making of Cowling Systems for Domestic Outdoor Lighting Greenodd Village Hall, Greenodd, Ulverston, LA12 7RD 

Sat 22 Feb

10am - 4.30pm

Book here

or Grizedale Arts www.grizedale.org

£35 pp
includes all materials and home-cooked lunch.

Adults only

This design development and hands-on practical making workshop will be led by local makers Tom Philipson and Adam Sutherland. The aim is to design and produce simple decorative cowlings to minimise light pollution from domestic outdoor lighting, including security timer lights. Easily fitted using domestic power tools, light cowlings are a cost-effective and practical solution to tackling light pollution, redirecting excess light from spilling into the night sky to better light your property’s walkways and frontage. 
Dark Skies Exploration Day in The Forgotten Lands The Crossings Inn, Carlisle CA6 6LG

Sat 22 Feb

10.30am - 11.30pm

016977 48833 TBJ Coombe  [email protected] 

For more details see the Forgotten Lands Facebook page

£45pp (B&B accom for additional £40pp)

16+

An all day event including 3 activities to choose from during the day, evening pub meal, singing and stargazing in the evening.

Astrophotography Talks and Exhibition

Moot Hall (Keswick Tourist Information Centre) Keswick,
CA12 5JR

1 - 4pm

Saturday 22 Feb

 

Cockermouth Astronomical Society

[email protected]  

or ring 07535540499  

Facebook event

 

£5 per person; spaces limited. Booking advised

Adults and children aged 12 and above (must be accompanied by an adult)

An afternoon of talks by some of the UK’s top astrophotographers, featuring stunning images of the night sky. The draft line-up of speakers includes:                                                                                                  
Ben Bush - Lake District based photographer and recent winner of the Astro Photographer of the Year 2019, People and Space category. Ben's work includes stunning pictures of land/starscapes.                                                                          
Jeremy Hunt - Keswickian photographer and astronomer with over 30 years' experience, recently a published author on the topic of astrophotography and the lifecycle of stars.
Stephen Cheatley - Blackpool-based professional photographer, featuring regularly in national media with beautiful images of the night sky and famous UK landmarks.                                                                                       
Linda Davison - Cumbrian astronomer and photographer, specialisng in land/starscape images, with aurora and time-lapse photography                                                                                        
Pete Williamson - Fellow of the Royal Astronomy Society, broadcaster and astronomer working as a deep-sky imaging consultant on the Faulkes Telescope Educational Project.                                                                            
As well as featuring stunning images, the talks will provide advice on how to take your own images of the night sky.                                                                                                                                                                Talks will be approximately half an hour duration, with a short break between each. A longer break for refreshments will be held around 2:30 pm and offers a chance to have a chat with the speakers, browse the exhibition and buy prints, etc.

Stargazing with High Tea, Ennerdale

Beckfoot Retreat B&B, Ennerdale Water, Croasdale CA23 3AU

Sat 22 Feb

6pm - 10pm

Book here

Or contact
[email protected]

Nina Ludgate: 01946748144

Beckfoot Retreat B&B

£10 includes High Tea served between 6.30pm -7.30pm

Adults only

Come to the Ennerdale Valley to get amazing views of the night skies with no light pollution. Beckfoot Retreat is close to the lake shore - 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.
From Beckfoot Bank Barn we will be offering guidance for star gazing with binoculars and the Skyview app.  Around the grounds we will have fire pits blazing to keep guests cosy while they stare at the stars. 
Eat by candlelight and enjoy the magic of the night skies outside.

Intrastellar - 'within the stars' art installation
Grizedale Tarn

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Grizedale Tarn
Forestry England

 all times

More information here

or

Forestry England Grizedale

Free

All ages

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Intrastellar is a temporary installation floating on the sheltered water of Grizedale Tarn. By day the pure white orbs add a purity of form in a wild environment. Their constant movement animating this corner of the forest. By night the tarn is transformed by their gentle glow in the darkness. An echo of the stars in the dark skies above.

An Introduction to the Night Sky – Supper & Stargazing at Whinlatter 

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Whinlatter Forest

Braithwaite

Keswick

CA12 5TW

Sat 22 Feb

6.15 – 8.30pm

Whinlatter Visitor Centre

[email protected]

017687 78469

£20 per person, includes a homemade meal and free parking. Spaces limited. Booking essential. For ages  10+. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Join us for a fantastic evening at Whinlatter for supper and stargazing. Andrew Gray will provide a telescope and Introduction to the night skies of Whinlatter.

Siskins Café will provide a delicious homemade pie, which is included in the ticket price. .

If you have binoculars at home, please feel free to bring them along.

Nature’s Nightlife at Whinlatter Forest

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Forestry England

Braithwaite, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5TW

Sat 22 Feb

4.30pm – 6.30pm

Whinlatter Visitor Centre,
017687 78469   [email protected] 

£4 per adult, £3 per child (children must be surpervised at all time) + parking charge.

All ages

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Join us for a magical guided evening walk through the forest. Listen for owls, learn about the wildlife in the forest, experience the wonders of the night sky, ending with hot chocolate and marshmallows around a camp fire. 

Dark Sky Planetarium and meteorite workshop Rheged Centre CA11 0DQ

Sunday
23 Feb

10am - 3.30pm

Sorry now fully booked.

Book here

Friends of the Lake District

£5 per adult; £2.50 per child.

All ages

Astronomers from Kielder Observatory will take visitors on a wander through the stars using their state-of-the-art indoor planetarium, combined with a chance to handle space rocks and learn more about our solar system.

Earth Photo exhibition - extended opening hours

CANX DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS

Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0QJ  

Read more

Forestry England, Grizedale

Free, no need to book

WEATHER CANCELLATION: "Just to make you all aware that due to forecast high winds this weekend we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at both Grizedale and Whinlatter. Forecast wind speeds for the evenings are above our site risk assessments. Whinlatter is likely to be closed on Friday". Forestry England

Forestry England will be contacting those booked but do contact them directly with any queries.

Earth Photo aims to stimulate conversations about our world, its inhabitants and our treatment of both.

Whinlatter Dark Skies Walk

Whinlatter Forest,
Keswick
CA12 5TW

Sun 23 Feb

6.30pm - 8.30pm (approx)

PLEASE NOTE: now Fully Booked.

Book here
Forestry England, contact [email protected] or
07932 015383 or
Whinlatter website

£6 per person or £9 for adult and up to 2 children + parking charges
All ages 

POSSIBLE CANCELLATION: *The Forestry England event - Whinlatter Dark Skies Walk - scheduled for Sunday at 6:30pm may still go ahead. They will be contacting those booked with updates but do contact them directly with any queries. They have said: "There is one stargazing walk which may continue on Sunday night at Whinlatter which is already full booked, and this is subject to the site being fully checked."

Due to popular demand and the Friday walk booking up, we are pleased to announce a second dark skies walk at Whinlatter.
The walk led by mountain leader, Jo Gruchy, will last approx 2 hours taking you on a journey up and around the forest taking in the sights, sounds and smells. There will be opportunities to turn off torches and look to the skies to see the stars and constellations above. 

Stargazing at Alston Moor Golf Club 

Alston Moor Golf Club
The Hermitage, Middleton Road,
Alston, Cumbria
CA9 3DB

Sunday
23 Feb

Arrive from 6.30pm for
7 - 9pm session

David Hymers – Golf Club Observatory sub-committee Chair

[email protected]

01434 381250

07483 327 560

£9 per person. Numbers limited. Booking essential. Children must be over 11 and accompanied by their parent or guardian.

This site has been identified as having sky darkness good enough to view the Milky Way, and is therefore one of the best local venues to view the heavens.
The event will be run by a well-respected astronomer, Gary Lintern, FRAS, who also has a background in astrophotography.
There is a chance of cloud and/or rain but both outdoor and indoor activities will be possible. Sets of quality binoculars will be available (no need to bring any of your own).
Drinks & refreshments will be available from the bar, including tea or coffee, and biscuits. All at a reasonable charge.
This will be a packed 2 hours suitable for beginners to amateur stargazers. At the event, plans for a new observatory at the golf club will be available for view and discussion.

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival is a partnership of Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Tourism, Forestry England and the Lake District National Park.