The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme, funded by Heritage Lottery, has invited schools in the Westmorland region of Cumbria to join its ‘Dark Skies Winter Celebration’. 

This project coincides with the Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Festival 2018 and provides an opportunity for children to visit a planetarium and work with local artists to celebrate dark skies and winter through art, photography and poetry.

The project has been designed to encourage children to explore and connect with the landscape and share their creativity, thoughts and feelings through poetry, art and performance with the wider community.

On the 22nd and 23rd February, Schools within the Westmorland Dales will have the opportunity to visit a mobile indoor Planetarium at Maulds Meaburn and Kirkby Stephen.

Children from Orton, Tebay, Crosby Ravensworth, Great Asby, Shap, Kirkby Stephen Primary, Brough and Kirkby Stephen Grammar School will get the opportunity to learn about the night sky with the aid of specialised visual and audio equipment designed to provide an immersive 360-degree experience.

Some of these schools will also be taking part in a follow up art project with local artists Rob and Harriet Fraser.  The art project will bring together the 4 main schools in the Westmorland Dales- Orton, Tebay, Crosby Ravensworth and Great Asby.

Using art, poetry, performance and photography, children will work in collaboration to create a brief film clip sharing their thoughts and feelings about the Westmorland Dales winter landscape, short days, long nights and dark skies. They will be encouraged to go outside in the dark and record their observations, to think about how people prepared for winter and long dark nights in the past and how street lighting has distorted our view of the stars.

About The Dark Skies Winter Celebration Project

The Dark Skies Winter Celebration Project has four main aims.

  1. To raise awareness about the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme with local schools and communities-demonstrating the importance and benefits of the scheme.
  2. To build relationships with schools and communities- acting as a catalyst to encourage and inspire schools and families to get involved further.
  3. To trial and approach connecting schools with the natural and cultural heritage of the Westmorland Dales that could be developed further- an opportunity to review outcomes, costings, preferred activities and project management issues.
  4. To celebrate dark skies and the landscape in winter- encouraging children to explore and connect with the landscape and share their creativity, thoughts and feelings through poetry, art and performance with the wider community.