Dark Skies Cumbria

Saving Our Night Skies

Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health wildlife and our own natural well-being. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate. We need urgent action now to stop light pollution. Stargazers, photographers, wildlife lovers and local communities… please help.


Or you can give by text to 70085. Just message DARKSKIES along with your chosen donation amount (eg DARKSKIES 5 to donate £5). Standard message rates apply.

The Lake District and Cumbria offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure. Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!

Mark your calendar with some Dark Skies fun!

We’re delighted to bring you the first ever Cumbria Dark Skies Festival which will take place on Friday 21 – Sunday 23 February 2020.

We’ve been busy working to pull together an exciting array of dark sky events for all the family to enjoy – we hope you’ll find there’s something for everyone!

The events

The exciting three-day programme is delivered in partnership with Cumbria Tourism and Forestry England and will see events running across the Lake District and wider Cumbria area.

Why not choose a few to celebrate the end of the school half-term? Many of the events are free to take part or have a small charge.

As you know, we're working hard to celebrate and save Cumbria's Dark Skies for generations to come by leading a campaign to achieve 'Dark Skies Reserve' status in Cumbria. This festival is a wonderful celebration of our fantastic dark skies – which we want to both protect and enhance!

Planetarium and Meteorite Workshop

As part of the festival, we’ll be hosting a two-day indoor planetarium event for the whole family.

Dark Sky Planetarium and Meteorite Workshop will be held at Ambleside Parish Centre on the Saturday (10am-3.30pm) and the Rheged Centre on the Sunday (10am-3.30pm) and tickets will be priced at £5 for adults and £2.50 for children.

Kielder Observatory astronomers will take you through a spectacular show in the state-of-the-art pop up planetarium – guests will also get to handle space rocks and learn all about our solar system! Book your tickets now as spaces are limited.


Get involved

There’s so much to experience as part of our first ever Dark Skies Festival.

Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre will have late opening hours over the long weekend. There will be night-time family walking events, the exhibition ‘Earth Photo’, stargazing and a stunning new outdoor art installation on Grizedale Tarn.

Members of Cockermouth Astronomy Society will be hosting a free event in Crow Park, on the shores of Derwentwater opposite Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. Be inspired by their enthusiasm and knowledge of the stars! Telescopes will be on hand to help guide you to different constellations, so give it a try for yourself! They will also demonstrate how astrophotography works using simple equipment – so it’s a great one for the kids.

Our friends at Grizedale Arts will be hosting a wonderful workshop on Saturday 22 February to make beautiful cowlings for domestic outdoor lighting that are both decorative and practical. Let your lights shine purposefully downwards, look fabulous and prevent unnecessary sky glow which can pollute our wonderful dark skies. The all-day workshop includes a homemade lunch.

Other events include:

  • Twilight sensory walks with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust team at Staveley and their wonderful Eycott Nature Reserve just north of the Lake District.
  • Night-time mountain biking sessions and e-mountain biking at Whinlatter Forest.
  • High Tea and stargazing at Beckfoot Retreat B&B at Ennerdale - an area recognised as one of the darkest parts of the Lake District.
  • An action packed ‘Dark Skies Weekend’ with Calvert Trust promises to be a fully catered residential with a stargazing twist and accessible for people with both physical and learning disabilities.
  • ‘The Forgotten Lands’ community group is also holding an all-day Dark Skies Exploration Day not far from Bewcastle. With events to choose from during the day, and a pub meal followed by singing and stargazing, this offer will be unforgettable! There is also the option to stay overnight in B&B accommodation.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab the family and make the most of the very first Dark Skies Festival. Bookings are taken directly by individual event organisers. Check out the full event listings (subject to change) here:  https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/news/cumbria-dark-skies-festival

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