Get closer to our solar system and take part in an exciting new interactive pop up planetarium event, part of the inaugural Cumbria Dark Skies Festival 21-23 February.

The Dark Skies Festival offers a full programme of events for all the family across the three-day celebration of dark skies.

A two-day indoor Planetarium and Meteorite Workshop will be run by Friends of the Lake District in conjunction with Kielder Observatory. Observatory astronomers will be taking guests through a spectacular show in the state-of-the-art pop up planetarium, something people of all ages will enjoy!

Visitors will even get to handle space rocks and learn all about our amazing solar system, so it’s a great event for all the family.

It will be held at Ambleside Parish Centre on Saturday 22 February (10am-3.30pm) and the Rheged Centre on the Sunday 23 February (10am-3.30pm). Tickets for the planetarium event are expected to sell out and sessions are limited – adult tickets are available for £5 and children’s tickets are priced at just £2.50.

Andrew Tait, of Friends of the Lake District, said: “We can’t wait for the first ever Cumbria Dark Skies Festival. The full event programme really does offer something for everyone – we've got bike rides, outdoor lighting workshops, evening walks, art installations and of course our two-day planetarium event run in conjunction with the team at Kielder Observatory.

“Encouraging people in Cumbria to think about how we can enhance and protect our dark skies is something we’re really keen to do. We hope our first ever festival will showcase just how important an issue light pollution is and how we can all do our bit to save our dark skies.

“We’re leading a major campaign to achieve ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ Status for Cumbria we’re so thrilled the feedback on the festival has been so positive and people are so keen to get involved.”

A spokesperson for Kielder Observatory said:  “We are delighted to be a part of this festival and we hope to inspire, enthuse and educate festival goers using our state of the art digital projection planetarium, to help demonstrate the importance of dark skies, and the impact they make on observational astronomy.  

“Guests will also be able to get physically hands on with pieces of the history of our solar system, discovering rocks which share the same geological birth as the building blocks of our world, 4.55 billion years ago.”

Calvert Lakes, who provide outdoor adventures for people with disabilities, will also be visiting the planetarium, as part of their first ever ‘Lake District Dark Skies Weekend’ from Friday 21 February to Sunday 23 February.

Their fully catered, two night residential is accessible for adults and children with disabilities as well as non-disability groups. A fantastic weekend of activities kicks off on the Friday with Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Roadshow talk about why darkness is so important to the national park’s wildlife and for our own health. 

Also included in the weekend’s packed itinerary will be a VIP visit to our pop-up planetarium at Ambleside Parish Centre, and a talk and stargazing session with local astronomer, Roger Vine.

Justin Farnan of Calvert Lakes said, “We get a huge amount of support from individuals and organisations across the Lake District and we feel that this initiative is something we should support in return. The landscape and nature of the area are a fundamental part of what people come to our centre for, so it’s important for us to be supporting dark skies in the interest of the national park.”

To find out more about the full event programme and to book your tickets for all events, visit https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/news/cumbria-dark-skies-festival