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!

The Big Switch Off of lights across Ambleside and Grasmere is happening again this year on Thursday 23rd February, from 7pm.

Organised by Friends of the Lake District's Dark Skies Cumbria project, and following the success of two previous events, street lights will be turned off and businesses and residents are encouraged to take part by turning their own lights off.

Too many lights are left on overnight when not needed, wasting energy, adding to electricity bills and releasing more carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  Artificial light at night is also harmful to wildlife, can damage people’s sleep patterns affecting long-term health, and creates light pollution when too bright or badly fitted.

Lots of local businesses, residents and organisations in Ambleside and Grasmere are taking part, including hotels and B&Bs, St Mary’s Parish Church Ambleside, Ambleside and Grasmere Primary schools, and lots of householders.

Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria Officer, Jack Ellerby, said: “Last February the clear skies gave a really impressive show of thousands of stars after all the lights went off. I talked to visitors and residents out and about and they were so pleased to have the opportunity to see so many stars.

"This year we’ve created a ‘Dark Skies room brochure’ leaflet for accommodation business guests to encourage them to step outside, look up and be wowed by how many stars they can see.” Read more about the Dark Skies Room brochure here.

Please do join in with the Big Lighting Switch Off on 23 February and come along to enjoy the evening experience.

Gillian Kelly, of Ambleside Action For A Future, said:

“The annual Big Switch Off is about encouraging all of us to reduce the wasteful use of energy, to ask ourselves, do we really need so many lights on all through the night? Seeing lots of lights go off is a highly visible way of getting the broader messages across to safeguard climate stability and help to reverse the severe declines to our threatened wildlife. Lots of individual small actions add up to make a collective improvement for people and the planet.”

Huge thanks to Cumbria County Council’s lighting team for making the event such a success by switching off road and street lights, plus Ambleside Action For A Future, Grasmere Village Society, Lakes Parish Council and South Lakeland District Council, who’ve all worked together with Friends of the Lake District Dark Skies on the Big Switch Off initiative.

The Big Switch Off takes place during Annual Star Count Week (17-24 February 2023), run by the CPRE, The Countryside Charity, asking people to take part counting the number of stars they can see in the Orion Constellation to help monitor light pollution trends in Cumbria and across England. Read more about the Star Count here

For more about Friends of the Lake District’s work, the Dark Skies Cumbria project, and Festival see: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

Image above: The Milky Way and Orion from Todd Crag, taken during the Big Switch Off, 26 Feb 22, by Jonny Gios