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 Cumbria Dark Skies Festival promises to light up our February evenings with a spectacular array of online events celebrating the wonders of the night sky.

Astronomers, astrophotographers, authors, filmmakers, lighting and design professionals, performers, poets and outdoor adventurers will engage, enthral, wow and challenge us to think about darkness in a new light.

The festival will be broadcasting online events spanning 17 evenings next month, from Friday 5th to Sunday 21st February. Bookings have now opened, giving you the opportunity to sign up and explore our universe and dark skies with renowned local, regional and national experts.

A varied schedule of events promises to offer something for everyone. A planetarium for children, amateur astronomers and night-time photographers, a panel of lighting experts to answer your questions, local artistic performers, writers and poets.

In interview with Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Officer Jack Ellerby, Tristan Gooley, the Natural Navigator, kicks things off on Friday 5th February with an evening entitled ‘Don’t rely on technology to find your way in the dark, re-kindle your innate senses.’

Award winning Film-maker and Dark Skies Ambassador, Terry Abraham will be sharing his stunning footage from his trilogy of ‘Life of a Mountain’ Lake District films.

Phoebe Smith, (above) award-winning travel writer, photographer, presenter and broadcaster will close the festival on the 21st Feb with her talk ‘Explorations Under the Stars’ where she will be sharing some incredible photographs and inspirational stories.

Lord Martin Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Cambridge, President of the Royal Society and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies has lent his support to the festival. He said:

“The Dark Skies Virtual Festival will be a fascinating and inspiring programme, showcasing and celebrating the Lake District and Cumbria’s wonderful dark skies. The Festival will help raise awareness of how technology allows us to avoid wasted energy, and enhance our environment at the same time – a win-win situation for us and for future generations. It's sad that the vista of a dark sky, which has been appreciated by humans worldwide since the dawn of history, is now denied to so many young people.”

Cumbria Tourism’s Sue Clarke highlights the importance of Cumbria’s dark skies:

“Everybody knows that the Lake District, Cumbria offers fantastic landscapes to explore during the day, but why should this stop when it gets dark? Cumbria is one of the best places in England for stargazing. So, with more than 1,000 stars visible on a clear night, dark skies form an important part of our ‘perfect place to be’ marketing campaign, designed to inspire future visitors by giving them even more reasons to choose us as their next destination when the time is right to travel again.

“Of course, with the sky being above us no matter where we are, it gives everyone a great chance to stay in areas they may not have experienced before such as along our stunning coastline, and the chance to hear nocturnal animals scurrying around for food, which is really exciting for children. The peace and quiet experienced by being outside in the dark is also great for health, wellbeing and mindfulness and also gives us the opportunity to extend the visitor season by boosting businesses during the traditionally quieter months.

“As the government are asking everyone to stay at home just now, you can still visit our dark skies virtually during this festival and we hope to welcome visitors back in person as soon as the current situation allows.”

Image: The Milky Way over Pendragon Castle, Cumbria, by Terry Abraham

Make a date in your diaries - the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival is open for bookings via: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk

The events are also listed on Cumbria Tourism’s Visit Lake District website: https://www.visitlakedistrict.com/whats-on

Cumbria Dark Skies Festival 2021 is a partnership of Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Tourism, Forestry England and the Lake District National Park.

Festival organisers would like to thank all of the presenters who have offered their time for free or at reduced rates and to Forestry England for their financial support.