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The North York Moors Dark Skies Festival & Dark Skies Fringe Festival

The North York Moors Dark Skies Festival & Dark Skies Fringe Festival

The North York Moors Dark Skies Festival & Dark Skies Fringe Festival

Have you been wondering what a Dark Skies Festival is?

If so, you’ll find our guide The North York Moors Dark Skies Festival & Dark Skies Fringe Festival very useful.

Dark Skies Festival(s)

Both Festivals celebrate everything wonderful about our night skies in the best locations. 

One of the biggest challenges with seeing our Night Skies is light pollution. Choosing the right location to explore Dark Skies can open your eyes to a whole sky full of stars. Planets, Meteors and so much more.  This is why The Dark Skies Festivals take place in the following National Parks:

North York Moors 


Yorkshire Dales

South Downs Exmoor


Because here you will find the darkest skies and see so much more. 

In highly populated Towns and Cities due to the amount of light pollution the chances of seeing lots of Stars is very small? Infact, you may see as little as just 20 Stars. Here light pollution is so low you could see in excess of a thousand Stars. If you are lucky, the Milky Way. All by the naked eye. 

The North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors National Park is a mixture of:

Heather Moorland

Heritage Coast



An area complete of astounding natural beauty inland, at sea and in our night skies. 

Rolling hills, dramatic coast, quaint coastal towns and villages and picturesque moorland villages and market towns. In some ways so much hasn’t changed here hence why our skies remain some of the darkest in the country and the UK. 

The North York Moors National Park covers an area of 554 square miles and has a stunning 26 miles of dramatic coastline. 

The North York Moors International Dark Sky Reserve

In December 2020 The North York Moors National Park was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve. 

But what is an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR)? An IDSR is land that possesses an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights specifically protected for scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment.

At present there are only nineteen International Dark Skies Reserves. The Uk has seven of them, five of which are in  England. Two are in North Yorkshire. 

Robin Hood’s Bay sits on the coastal edge of the North York Moors National Park.  Being on the coast Robin Hood’s Bay lends itself very well to observing the Dark Skies. Surrounded by cliffs, moorland and the great North Sea the only light pollution comes from the village. Purposefully lit in a way to get the most from our coastal night skies. 

Magical Robin Hood’s Bay

Perched on the coast between the surrounding cliffs of Scarborough and Whitby sits a Bay. The backdrop of the Bay is the old Yorkshire fishing village Robin Hood’s Bay. Built on a steep hill the old 17th Century village heads down to the Bay. Winding streets, steep steps and cobbled alleyways make up what was once called Baytown. A maze of a village it’s easy to get lost here in Robin Hood’s Bay. Just all part of the magic of what makes it so special. 

Robin Hood’s Bay harbours a deep rooted history of smuggling. Legend has it that contraband could leave the Bay and reach the top of the village without ever seeing daylight. 

With so much beauty the Stars and the Moon just add to the magic and atmosphere of Robin Hood’s Bay. You can see how the dark skies and the moon lent themselves well to the illicit activities of the night. You can almost imagine the smugglers at work shifting their contraband under nothing but the light of the stars and the moon.

Dark Skies Festival

The Annual Dark Skies Festival usually takes place in the Winter month of February and sometimes into March. Packed full of events all across The North York Moors National Park. 

Events have included some of the following over the years:

The Robin Hood’s Bay Ghost Walk 

Zip Lining in Dalby Forest Go Ape at night

Walks along The Cleveland Way at night

Dinners under the stars

Activities with Birds of Prey 

Dark Skies Photography or AstroPhotography

To name just a few. The Events change every year with new additions, bringing new and exciting ways to enjoy our Night Skies. 

You can find out more about The Dark Skies Festival and The Dark Skies Fringe Festival by Clicking Here

Dark Skies Fringe Festival 

The Dark Skies Fringe Festival is unique to the North York Moors National Park. Usually taking place in October just into November. The Fringe Festival takes advantage of our Autumn Dark Skies which are great for observing The Milky Way and annual Meteor Showers. 

The Fringe Festival brings many of the firm favourites of the Dark Skies Festival in the Winter. 

If you missed that link you can find out more by Clicking Here

Dark Skies & The Moon

Throughout the year you can study our Dark Skies for:

Stars & Shooting Stars

The Milky Way

The Moon

Meteor Showers


Andromeda Galaxy - The furthest object you can see from The North York Moors National Park

International Space Station 

You could even be lucky enough to observe the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) here on our coast. The more northward you are and the darker the night sky the greater the chance.

When you’re used to only seeing a few stars, seeing over a thousand with just the naked eye is a pretty breath-taking experience. Especially if it’s your first time. 

The Moon can also be amazing depending on the month, time of night and time of year. When a full Moon rises and it is low it truly is a tremendous sight to see. When the full Moon is up high the light streams across the sea lighting up the Bay and illuminating the silhouette of the cliffs and the Ravenscar headland. It’s beautiful and has been the subject of many Robin Hood’s Bay paintings and photos.

Full Moons and Super Moons are the most spectacular; they are brighter much lower and appear so much bigger.  When the moon is less prominent the night skies are darker. This is when you will observe so much more in our dark skies. 

The new Moon period is the best time for observing dark skies.

Autumn is good for observing the Milky Way.

October and November  when the moon is absent are all great months for observing annual Meteor Showers .

Dark Sky Discovery Sites

There are three Dark Sky Discovery Sites located within the North York Moors National Park:

Sutton Bank National Park Centre 

The Moors National Park Centre Danby

Dalby Forest Observatory

All three have been rated “Milky Way” class by the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership. Meaning here they are much darker sites and the Milky Way is visible by the naked eye.

All three locations are open to the public. The Dark Sky Discovery Sites are all accessible to everyone. There is parking available along with other facilities. 

For a map and more information Click Here.

Local Stargazing Events & Clubs

Here are some useful and handy links to local stargazing clubs and dark skies events: 

Hidden Horizons

Whitby Astronomical Society

North York Moor National Park

Adventures For The Soul

You could even host your own Star Gazing Party right here in Robin Hood’s Bay in a Baytown Holiday Cottage.

Stay A While

So, why not stay for a while? Explore Robin Hood’s Bay by day and our Dark Skies by night. You may just get bitten by the bug and be eager to see more. Enjoy the Dark Skies Festival & the Dark Skies Fringe Festival. You will find experiences for couples, families, ones you can enjoy by yourself,  ones you can enjoy with your friends. Even experiences you can enjoy with the dog.

Smaller properties are available from 2 nights and the larger properties from 3 nights. All dependent on the time of year. All of our cottages are priced accordingly throughout the year. A little reminder all of our properties feature in size order. Largest to smallest as you scroll down the Accommodation Page

For a quick look at our availability at any given time you can use our All Availability feature. Just click the green and yellow Check Availability button on the Home page of our website.

The February and October Half -Term holidays are peak times of the Winter & Autumn period. The Dark Skies Festivals usually coincide with both of these Holidays inline with North Yorkshire School Holidays. Don’t miss out on your Dark Skies adventure Book  your stay early.  

B1774A72 9D4A 4010 9542 E402B211BEFC



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