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Final Countdown to Exmoor Dark Skies Festival This October

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Last chance to book tickets as the final countdown begins to Exmoor's popular Dark Skies Festival, which runs from 16th to 31st October with events for all ages. Katrina Munro, the Festival’s coordinator at Exmoor National Park Authority, tells us what’s in store this year.

Katrina said: “This year’s line-up is amazing and it’s a real credit to our businesses and National Park staff who have been creative and professional in making sure we can continue to deliver this popular festival celebrating our dark skies. All of the events have Covid-safe measures and limited numbers, so we encourage people to book with confidence as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

“We’re very proud to have Professor Roger Davies, an eminent astrophysicist and cosmologist from Oxford University joining us for several events. At Horner Farm near Porlock (www.horner-farm.co.uk) you can enjoy a warming Exmoor beef casserole and an inspiring talk about galaxies, or at Torre Cider Farm near Washford (www.torrecider.co.uk), he will be giving a talk about black holes. Professor Davies is also delivering child friendly talks about the planets and solar system at both venues so there really is something for everyone."

Another brand-new event for this year's Festival is an exclusive boat trip along the Exmoor coast with AlyKat Boat Charters (www.charterboats-uk.co.uk/alykat). Skipper Dave Roberts said: “With luck we may have clear skies and pitch black conditions, giving the opportunity to see some awesome night time sky sightings.”

For those looking to relax and unwind, there is a three-day rural retreat with luxury barn accommodation being run at Heale Farm with a variety of well-being workshops (www.healefarm.co.uk). The farm is set in Parracombe with 23 acres of pasture and woodland and has grazing and access rights over a further 18 acres of rugged Exmoor land.

Visitors can book exclusive stargazing experiences with Wild About Exmoor (www.wildaboutexmoor.com) or an exclusive Land Rover safari with a very experienced wildlife safari guide (www.exmoorwildlifesafaris.co.uk). During the dusk safaris, participants will be taken to some amazing places to experience the magical sights and sounds of Exmoor as darkness falls.

Stargazing breaks with expert speakers and guided outdoor sessions are being run by the Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster, Simonsbath House Hotel and Westerclose House at Withypool.

The Rangers and staff of Exmoor National Park Authority are running a range of events for all ages at locations all over Exmoor. We have Ranger-Guided Night Walks at Lynton and outdoor family fun and stargazing with astronomer Jo Richardson at Wimbleball and Simonsbath. For those not able to join in person, there are also a number of virtual events, including an on-line ranger-led workshop on bio-luminescence.

Katrina added: “We’ve recently given Dark Sky Friendly accreditation to a number of self-catering and B&B accommodation businesses around the moor who have undergone training in stargazing and understanding the importance of our dark skies. They can now help visitors make the most of their experience here at night, as well as in the day, and are perfect places to stay during the Festival or at any time of the year”

This year’s Festival Competition is based on capturing Exmoor at night on camera. Four categories are open to photographers in both under 16s and adult classes, including deep-sky images or photos of Exmoor’s iconic wildlife or landmarks at night. Visit  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/stargazing and  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival for details of the Festival, photography competition and a list of Dark Sky Friendly accredited businesses.

ENDS

Published: 6 October 2020

Contact the press office:

Ailsa Stevens
T: 01398 323665
E: info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk