NEW art experiences, simulated space walks, arts and craft sessions, lessons in astrophotography and a recently-opened constellation trail will all be part of this year’s Dark Skies Festival.

The popular annual event, which runs from February 9 to February 25, showcases the International Dark Sky Reserves above the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and also the The Forest of Bowland National Landscape - formerly an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Events will take place across the Dales and in Skipton, where family-friendly events will take place over the half-term holiday at Skipton Town Hall.

There will be a special Craven Museum Dark Skies trail sheet available throughout half term week giving visitors the opportunity to see the objects like never before and explore the collection through the lens of a telescope.

There will be an art club on February 12 when working on watercolour paper and using the ‘wet on wet’ method, children will create landscape paintings of Yorkshire Dales night sky featuring the northern lights. The session will also look at the work of the artist Ted Harrison.

A museum make and take craft session in the concert hall on February 14 will be space themed and suitable for children of all ages, as they make their own retractable telescopes with constellation wheels and a dark skies postcard.

The WonderDome Planetarium Experience on February 15 will feature an inflatable planetarium dome to enjoy a captivating 360 degrees film screening.

There will be two shows, We Are Aliens, for families, adults and children, and Forward to the Moon, for over seven year olds. The shows are hosted by Ben, an experienced WonderDome presenter who has a degree in Observational Astronomy and just loves answering questions.

Grassington's Stripey Badger book shop will play host to a children's storytelling session with hot chocolate on February 13.

Magical stargazing storytelling of a mythical adventure through the stars is promised as well as delicious hot chocolate and a chance for children to make their own constellation to take home.

A spokesperson said: "Join us for an afternoon of magical storytelling, stargazing and star making. Listen to the story of Hedgehog, Fox and Owl and their exciting adventure through the night sky. Meet Cassiopeia, Great Bear and Andromeda and hear their mystical starry stories as they guide the intrepid travellers to their new home."

For the first time, Broughton Sanctuary, near Skipton, is taking part in the festival, with its new Broughton by Night stargazing experience, with three dates surrounding the ninth annual festival, most of which are already sold out.

People will be invited to stargaze with expert astronomer Chris Higgins from Lime Tree Observatory at Broughton Sanctuary, have a warming vegetarian dinner round the campfire, view the heavens through a telescope and enjoy an expert-led tour of the cosmos. There's even a chance of seeing the Northern Lights there.Broughton by Night is due to take place on February 6; March 1 and March 6.

There will also be opportunities to learn about astrophotography - the art of photographing the night sky. Workshops will take place across the national parks, including at the Langcliffe Hoffman Kiln, near Settle, on February 10; in Grassington on February 17, and at Ribblehead Viaduct on February 24. There will also be an online seminar and demonstration.

A spokesperson said: "Astrophotography is a great way to engage with and learn about the night sky. With the right equipment and techniques, you can capture stunning images of the night sky – the moon, stars, planets, and even distant galaxies."

The workshops will show people how to manually create long exposures in low light, and how to make atmospheric photographs after dark.

There will also be stargazing retreats throughout February including at Ashes Farm, near Ribblehead, where people can enjoy a romantic weekend away looking at the stars.

Derek Twine, member champion for promoting understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “While enjoyment and discovery are at the heart of the festival, it’s also a reminder to us all of the vital need to do everything we can to protect one of nature’s greatest wonders, the night sky, from light pollution so that we can help safeguard the natural world as well as our own health and wellbeing.”

The festival runs from February 9 to February 25 at venues right across both national parks and national landscapes. The events are individually priced and some are free. For more programme information, including individual event booking details and pricing go to; or

Booking information and full details of Bowland Dark Skies Festival are available on the Forest of Bowland National Landscape website at: