TV star joins stellar line-up for Yorkshire's Dark Skies Festival

Dark Skies Festival - Aysgarth Forest School

7:01am 14th January 2018

A children's TV presenter is joining the line-up for the 2018 Dark Skies Festival organised by the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.

More than 30 new events and locations will feature in this year's event, which takes place from 9 to 25 February, including a 'Stories under the stars' storytelling evening hosted by actor and former CBeebies presenter Alex Winters in the conservatory of the Spa Hotel, Saltburn.

Visitors can go starry-eyed in the company of expert astronomers at new locations including The Buck Hotel in Reeth or Byland Abbey, Ryedale Folk Museum and Chapelgarth Estate at Great Broughton in the North York Moors.

For runners, walkers and cyclists, there are plenty of new events to choose from, including a 3.5-mile guided night walk through the Land of Iron at Rosedale, bike orienteering at Hawes or an early morning social run up Great Shunner Fell, the third highest mountain in the Dales, in time to enjoy the sunrise.

Adrenaline-seekers can also hurtle into the darkness on a zip wire at Go Ape in Dalby Forest or venture underground at Crackpot Cave in Swaledale to see caving's answer to the stars, with the sparkling calcite formations in the cavernous roof.

There are more sessions with photographers enabling visitors to master night-time photography at scenic spots such as Settle, Bolton Abbey, Malham Cove, Sutton Bank and Whitby.

Wildlife watchers can explore the nocturnal goings-on in the countryside, with the Tees Wildlife Trust at Saltburn, rangers from Forest Holidays, an owl prowl at the National Centre for Birds of Prey at Helmsley or a Senses by Starlight Forest Schools evening in the woods at Aysgarth Falls.

Children can immerse themselves in the universe by making rockets, telescopes and planet pom-poms.

For the first time this year, the YHA at Whitby is lining up a crafting evening and the Animated Objects Theatre Company is holding lantern-making workshops at Sutton Bank and Danby.

Kids can also become star bakers, making intergalactic biscuit decorations at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

Dark Skies Festival - lantern making

The Dark Skies Festival will include lantern-making workshops

For crafters and art appreciators, there is a night sky print workshop at Broadrake in Chapel-le-Dale, Ingleton and a starry-themed felt-making session in Hawes, whilst the Inspired by... gallery in Danby will be showcasing how artists and jewellery designers interpret the beauty of the National Parks' dark skies.

Even if the weather doesn't quite play ball, visitors can still imagine they are in space, with indoor evenings at the Lime Tree Observatory at Grewelthorpe in Nidderdale and the cosmos planetariums in Skipton, Hawes and Ryedale Folk Museum.

Tracey Lambert, Tourism Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, said: "We're delighted with this year's programme, as even more businesses have got behind the Festival to showcase the myriad of ways that people can enjoy the National Parks after dark."

Mike Hawtin, Outdoor Activities Tourism Officer for the North York Moors National Park Authority, added: "Whether visitors want to feel as though they're careering into the cosmos, sedately studying the stars or being wowed by the world of space, the Festival has an event for them."

Each National Park has three Dark Sky Discovery locations where skies are sufficiently dark to potentially see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

The North York Moors sites are at The Moors National Park Centre at Danby, Sutton Bank and Dalby Forest.

The Yorkshire Dales Dark Sky Discovery sites are at Hawes, Malham and Buckden.

You can see the full programme at www.darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk

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