Dark Skies Festival
Exmoor Dark Skies Festival
Friday 13th to Sunday 29th October 2023.
This popular annual festival is kindly being sponsored this year by
There will be a host of events for families, amateur astronomers and everyone who feels inspired by the outdoors and the night. Events are spread all over the National Park and are run by the Exmoor National Park Authority and many other businesses and organisations. Please book, enquire and check Ts & Cs with the relevant event organiser.
Press and public enquiries to Katrina Munro on KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk
Dark Skies Festival Art Competition for Children
Win amazing prizes (including a Celestron Telescope) and certificates in this year's festival competition for children aged up to 16 years. Capture the wonders of Exmoor at night in a painting, drawing or other creative medium. Whether your subject is our nocturnal wildlife, a classic Exmoor landscape scene under the stars, or people enjoying the countryside under a star-filled backdrop, the judges will be looking for attention to detail and a picture that captures the spirit of Exmoor. Closing date 7th November. Read full details and how to enter here.
Festival Events List
Scroll down for events listed in date order. More events, further details and booking instructions will be added on this webpage in due course.
Multiple dates available
Dusk Wildlife Safaris
Book and exclusive date for you and your family/group (up to 7 people) for £175. Experienced safari guide Daphne Barle will take you out on a wildlife adventure in her Landrover as the sun goes down. Hopefully you'll see some deer and stars (weather permitting) and hear myths and legends. Call 07977 571494. www.exmoorwildlifesafaris.com
Friday 13 October – Lecture Theatre, Petroc College, Tiverton
Astronomy Lecture ‘From Galaxies to Life’
The National Park Authority is delighted to welcome astrophysicist and cosmologist Professor Roger Davies from Oxford University for this accessible and informative talk. Hear how the dark matter halos around galaxies, exploding stars, and discovery of planets beyond the solar system, all contribute to creating the ingredients for life on earth.
Friday 13, Saturday 14, Thursday 19, Friday 20, Saturday 21, Thursday 26 & Saturday 28 October - 7-9pm - Kentisbury
Stargazing & Pizza Nights with Moor Wild Experiences
Discover Saturn's rings, Jupiter, constellations and distant galaxies using 7 telescopes, binoculars and the Stellarium app. All telescopes are child and adult friendly. Let your Guides Liz and Gary navigate you on the top 10 things to spot in the autumn night sky even with just the naked eye! Take home a free Dark Skies Pocket Guide and leave with great memories in a warm and friendly atmosphere. For absolute beginners. Dietary requests made at the booking stage. 28 days cancellation Policy. Adults (14+) £30, Child (5-13) £15, U5s £5
Friday 13 October - Exford
Dark Sky Discovery Hub Evening at Exford Bridge Tea Rooms
Join astronomer Jo Richardson for an evening presentation and supper followed by an optional guided night walk under the stars.
Saturday 14 October - Ranger Guided Walk at Dunkery Beacon
Join National Park Ranger Tim Parish for a guided walk with like-minded people from Webbers Post up to the top of Dunkery Beacon - the highest point on Exmoor. There'll be astronomers on hand to guide you around the constellations if skies are clear. Under clear skies the 360 degree views of the night sky will be awe-inspiring but even on a cloudy wet day we'll make our way up listening for the deer and wild night sounds of Exmoor at night. Please note that part of the 4 mile walk (around 3 hours) will be on uneven, narrow paths in the dark. Suitable clothing and footwear are essential and a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Saturday 14 October - The Poltimore Inn Observatory, North Molton
Family Space Workshop "Blast off" 1-2.30pm A fun family space event ideal for children 4-10 years, £12 per child.
Telescope Workshop Course 4-5.30pm (This is part of a 4 week course at £99 - please enquire with the Poltimore Inn for details.
Family Stargazing Event with Virtual Reality 6-10.30pm - This is an exciting evening all about stargazing under an Exmoor Dark Sky. Learn about stars, how they are formed, the sizes and distance between them, as well as the myths and legends associated with the constellations. Observatory Tour, Look through Telescopes, Expert Astronomer Guidance, Laser Guided Night Sky Explanation
Virtual Sky Projection and guide if weather is poor. Adults £35, Children £25
Booking for all events via website https://www.thepoltimoreinnnorthmolton.co.uk/poltimore-dark-sky-experience or call Debbie on 01598 740338. Call to book Dinner and for Accommodation see https://www.thepoltimoreinnnorthmolton.co.uk/poltimore-lodges
Saturday 14 October - Porlock Weir Hotel, Porlock Weir
Astrophysicist and cosmologist Professor Roger Davies from Oxford University will be giving an informative indoor presentation in the surrounds of this stunning hotel overlooking Porlock Harbour. Dinner and Accommodation offers will be made available in due course.
Sunday 15, Wednesday 18, Wednesday 25, and Sunday 29 October 7-9pm - Valley Of Rocks, Lynton
Stargazing at the Valley of Rocks (L&L Cricket Club) with Moor Wild Experiences
Discover Saturn's rings, Jupiter, constellations and distant galaxies using 7 telescopes, binoculars and the Stellarium app. All telescopes are child and adult friendly. Let your Guides Liz and Gary navigate you on the top 10 things to spot in the autumn night sky even with just the naked eye! Take home a free Dark Skies Pocket Guide and leave with great memories in a warm and friendly atmosphere. For absolute beginners. Dietary requests made at the booking stage. 28 days cancellation Policy. Adults (14+) £12, Child (5-13) £10, U5s £5.
Tuesday 17 October – TBC Petroc College, Tiverton
Book an evening session in one of the country’s largest planetarium where you’ll be immersed under spectacular night skies under the guidance of experiences science teacher and presenter Simon Ould from Space Odyssey. A memorable experience for all ages and a must for anyone who’s never had a go!
Tuesday 17 & Tuesday 24 October - 7.00 - 8.30pm, Barton Farm, Kentisbury
Stargazing with Hot Chocolate and Cake with Moor Wild Experiences
Discover Saturn's rings, Jupiter, constellations and distant galaxies using 7 telescopes, binoculars and the Stellarium app. All telescopes are child and adult friendly. Let your Guides Liz and Gary navigate you on the top 10 things to spot in the autumn night sky even with just the naked eye! Take home a free Dark Skies Pocket Guide and leave with great memories in a warm and friendly atmosphere. For absolute beginners. Dietary requests made at the booking stage. 28 days cancellation Policy. Adults (14+) £12, Child (5-13) £10, U5s £5
Wednesday 18 October, 6.30pm - Shoulsbarrow Farmhouse, Challacombe
Dark Skies Singalong, Quiz and Sky Gazing Farm Event
Join experienced choir leader Amanda and her husband Gary Taylor for an uplifting evening of fun and laughter, singing along to some dark sky related songs and short quiz, again with a dark sky theme! Both based in their farm barn surrounded by friendly traditional and rare breed livestock and horses. Sky gazing from the barn or anywhere on site is amazing. An ideal event for well-being, in this tranquil location under some of the darkest skies on Exmoor. Adults only. Hot drinks and sausage in a roll provided. Sausages are made from Gloucestershire Old Spots Pigs reared on the farm. Price: £10 per person (includes refreshments and a donation to North Devon Hospice)
B&B accommodation also available, visit www.shoulsbarrowfarmhouse.co.uk .Contact: Amanda Taylor 01598 428005, email@example.com
Wednesday 18, Sunday 22 and Thursday 26 October 7-9pm - Valley of Rocks, Lynton
Night Walk through Valley of Rocks with Mother Moon
Enjoy the peace of the valley, taking in the beauty of the night sky in a stunning part of Exmoor. Your local guide Jess Twydall of Mother Moon will meet you at Lynton Town Hall. The tour will include tales of the past and local history as you walk through the woods on Hollerday Hill and into Valley of Rocks. Hear about the moon cycles and how they impact our moods and emotions. This is very much a walk for well-being, slowing down and enjoying the tranquility of Exmoor.
Adults £15, Children under 12 Free. Book via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07716 223270.
Thursday 19, Thursday 26, Friday 27, Sunday 29 October , 6pm - Exford
Dark Sky Discovery Hub Supper Club
We meet at 6pm at the Exford Bridge Tearooms to share a delicious meal cooked by Bruce and Claire, with a licenced bar.
Then the sociable and informative part of our stargazing evening kicks off with a planetarium on their widescreen tv to show you around those clear Exmoor skies. We show you how to “star hop” between constellations and major stars.
Deeper sky objects are found and explored and then we head out to try out our telescopes.
Weather permitting, there is an optional dark skies walk at a small extra cost (£5 payable on the night) to finish off the evening, where we can practice using I pads and phone apps in the field. Price for the evening is £40 per adult, £20 for under 16 years. Contact email@example.com or 07990521604 for more information and to book. www.wildaboutexmoor.com
Friday 20 October – Minehead
Exmoor Coaster Dark Sky Adventure with Jo Richardson (second date 25 Oct-TBC)
Join astronomer Jo Richardson on board the open-top double-decker bus as it travels along the spectacular Exmoor coastline under dark skies. Stopping for stargazing (weather permitting) and stories of the constellations en route, and defying gravity as the bus makes its way up the steepest hill in the country, enjoy a short break, hot drink and indoor presentation at Lynmouth National Park Centre. There’ll be time for a quick browse around the Centre before heading back to Minehead.
Friday 20 October – Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster
Two-night Stargazing Break
Enjoy a series of informative talks, guided stargazing trips and a planetarium session. There’ll be plenty of time to explore this amazing medieval village, steeped in history and dominated by the National Trust’s Dunster Castle. Tel: 01643 821425 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 21 October 10am-4pm - Shoulsbarrow Farmhouse, Challacombe
Astro Papercraft Workshop and Farm Tour
The Three Sisters are three stars that form the Belt of Orion and stand for family and bloodline, kith and kin. So, join three sisters for a relaxed and inspiring day at this Exmoor hill farm. Enjoy a day of astronomy based papercraft and learn how to use Iris paper folding techniques to produce your own handmade cards and also create 2D star decorations.
Refreshments on arrival with a Shoulsbry Farmhouse lunch, and afternoon tea and cake before an optional tour around the farm to see the rare and traditional breeds of livestock and horses. B&B accommodation also available, visit www.shoulsbarrowfarmhouse.co.uk
Adults only: £30 per person (includes all materials, food and a donation to North Devon Hospice. Contact: Amanda Taylor 01598 428005, email@example.com
Saturday 21 October 2pm and 3.30pm – Lynmouth National Park Centre
Two talks by popular Astronomer and Presenter Seb Jay
Astronomer Seb Jay has been inspiring Exmoor visitors for years – come and learn fascinating facts and stories about the night skies and how to enjoy them.
Saturday 21 October – Tithe Barn, Dunster
Planetarium Sessions & Dark Skies themed Activities for Children
Book an immersive 45/60 minute session in the Space Odyssey Planetarium and learn about space and the universe from Simon Ould an experienced Science Teacher and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. There’s also a host of free family-friendly activities including space experiments and crafts sessions with the authors of Alphi Saves the Night. Refreshments available.
Saturday 21 October 2-5pm - Porlock Village Hall
Exmoor Star Baker Competition plusTalks and Produce Show
Calling all bakers, young and old, to take part in this brand-new event. Taking inspiration from the popular Bake-Off TV series and Exmoor’s amazing dark skies, amateur and professional bakers of all ages from across Exmoor are invited to enter their own show- stopper cake or cupcakes with an astronomy or night-wildlife theme for judging. Top prizes on offer!
During the afternoon, come and admire the creativity of our bakers as all cake entries will be on display to the public who can also browse some local produce stalls and take refreshments. There will also be three short talks suitable for all ages;
- Exmoor International Dark Sky Reserve – Exmoor National Park Authority
- Where and when to stargaze and what to look for in the October night sky - Exmoor Stargazers
- Nocturnal Wildlife - Exmoor Natural History Society.
Saturday 21 October Holworthy Farm, Nr Dulverton
In the Starry Skies with astronomer Jo Richardson
Call Gillian on 01398 371244 for details. B&B accommodation also available.
Sunday 22 October 10am to 1pm - Lynmouth National Park Centre
'Alphi Saves the Night' Story Telling and Crafts
Join the Ewen & Michalea, authors of Alphi Saves the Night and Alphi Saves the Alps for story telling and crafts and sticker making. Free drop-in session (no booking required) for families with younger children. Their books will be available for purchase.
Sunday 22 October 3.30-8pm - Horner Farm, Nr Allerford
Family Astro Party
Presentation and family space-themed workshop with fun experiments and activities, picnic, Ranger guided bat walk, stargazing activities and telescopes.
Sunday 22 and Tuesday 24 October, 6pm - Exford
Guided Night Walk, Farmhouse Supper and Stargazing
Join Wild About Exmoor for an evening of walking under the stars.....
We meet at our “local”, The Crown, Exford TA24 7PP so you can enjoy a drink at the bar if you arrive early, and then set off for a walk up an old drovers way onto the edge of the moor The walk is approx. 3km up and back, quite rocky terrain with 1 x steep hill.
We sit and watch the stars come out whilst soaking up the atmosphere of a quiet Exmoor evening in the wilds. I will point out the visible planets and constellations by laser before we head down to our smallholding in the valley below.
Enjoy a delicious home cooked roast dinner, made with local produce at our traditional Exmoor farm cottage. Vegan and vegetarian alternatives are available. We talk about the stars and planets and explain the use of apps on phone and ipad. Learn how to use our telescopes and binoculars to delve into deeper space. £45 per head with complimentary drinks and starry information. We have a planetarium I can play on our widescreen tv if the weather is very cloudy, which shows exactly what is up there behind the clouds! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07990521604 for more information and to book. www.wildaboutexmoor.com
Sunday 22 October 7-9pm - Nettlecombe Court
Sunday Roast & Stargazing with Moor Wild Experiences
Discover Saturn's rings, Jupiter, constellations and distant galaxies using 7 telescopes, binoculars and the Stellarium app. All telescopes are child and adult friendly. Let your Guides Liz and Gary navigate you on the top 10 things to spot in the autumn night sky even with just the naked eye! Take home a free Dark Skies Pocket Guide and leave with great memories in a warm and friendly atmosphere. For absolute beginners. Dietary requests made at the booking stage. 28 days cancellation Policy. Adults (14+) £24, Child (5-13) £20, U5s £5
Monday 23 October, flexible arrival time around 5.30 TBC – Larkbarrow, near Exford
Dark Sky Discovery Trail: Semi-guided Experience
Gain confidence on this amazing dark skies walk - National Park staff will be on hand as you negotiate the flat 2-mile walk with 360- degree views of the night sky. Whatever the weather, you'll feel the excitement of being surrounded by darkness and the sounds of nature. If skies are clear then our astronomers will help you identify planets and constellations. Booking link to be added in due course.
Tuesday 24 October 6.30pm - Royal Oak, Withypool
Owls, Hedgehogs and Exmoor Wildlife presented by Stephen Powles
Wildlife talk and optional supper. Suitable for children and adults. Details to follow.
Wednesday 25 October - Lynmouth National Park Centre
Dark Skies in Watercolour, Painting Sessions for Children
Join Sophie Tyler from Exmoor National Park Authority for a 1.5 hour creative watercolour painting session. Most suited to ages 7-11. All materials provided. Two sessions to choose from. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Child: £3.
Wednesday 25 October 5.30pm - Exmoor Pony Centre, Ashwick near Dulverton (repeated 27 October)
Wildlife at Night
A family friendly evening meeting Exmoor ponies and finding out about Exmoor's nocturnal wildlife. Hot chocolate and marshmallows included. (Event duration approx 1.5hrs) Advance booking will be required.
Thursday 26 October 7-9pm - Root Project, Oare
Supper under the Stars Evening with astronomer Jo Richardson
Join us in Oare for a stargazing evening and firepit supper led by Astronomer Jo Richardson from Space Detectives.
£20.00 adult / £10.00 child, £50.00 family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) Visit the website and Book here
Friday 27 to Sunday 29 October - Simonsbath House Hotel, Simonsbath
Two-night Stargazing Break
Kick of the first evening with a walk and talk with ESERO-UK Ambassador Jo Richardson FRAS and enjoy the spectacular display afforded to an International Dark Sky Reserve. On Saturday visit Wimbleball Lake and see Exmoor Ponies on nearby Haddon Hill, followed by another evening with Jo learning to use telescopes and talking astrophotography.
Friday 27 October, 5pm - Wimbleball Lake
Join a Sponsored ‘Moonlit Walk for Exmoor’
Rise to the challenge of walking around this stunning large lake under a full moon and some of the UK’s darkest skies, in the safety of this fully marshalled event. Sign up on your own or with a group of friends or family to take on the full 9 mile route (approx. 4 hours). The event is also ideal for school or scout groups etc. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Celebrate completing the walk with free hot drinks next to a campfire and (weather permitting) look up at the moon and starry skies using binoculars and telescopes under the guidance of expert stargazers at Wimbleball’s new dark sky discovery hub and viewing platform.
Whilst enjoying an outdoor adventure you’ll also be raising money to support three amazing Exmoor-based charities: Exmoor Search & Rescue, CareMoor for Exmoor and South West Lakes Trust. We hope that each participant will raise at least £10 sponsorship. See below to sign up and set up an online fundraising page to send to friends and family to make collecting sponsorship fun and easy.
Everyone who completes the walk will receive a Certificate of Achievement as a thank you from Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Search & Rescue and South West Lakes Trust. There will also be prizes to be won!
To sign up to take part – follow the instructions below to set up your own fundraising page (for you as an individual, family or group):
- Visit CareMoor for Exmoor: Join this Sponsored Walk and help 3 Exmoor charities (enthuse.com)
- Click Join Team on the dark skies picture
- You’ll be asked to create an account (or sign in if you already have an account)
- Set any fundraiser type – personal challenge, memorial, or celebration
- Complete the relevant details relating to your chosen fundraiser type
- Set the target amount for you or your team
- Upload a profile picture
- Upload a header image
- Tell us about you or your team
- Customise your Page Link
- Spread the word
- Please also send your details (names, ages, mobile phone number) to Katrina on email@example.com to be added to the event register.
For more detailed guidance on setting up your page please visit Create a team fundraising page | Enthuse Help Desk
Friday 27 October 5.30pm - Exmoor Pony Centre, Ashwick near Dulverton (see also 25 October)
Wildlife at Night
A family friendly evening meeting Exmoor ponies and finding out about Exmoor's nocturnal wildlife. Hot chocolate and marshmallows included. (Event duration approx. 1.5hrs) Advance booking will be required.
Saturday 28 October - Arlington National Trust, near Barnstaple
Arlington Asteroids - 5/10k Night Run
Stargazing Advice and Tips - For great stargazing advice, moon phases, astronomical events and advice on equipment visit www.gostargazing.co.uk Tips, information and resources to help you get the most from your stargazing experience.
Where to stay during the festival
If you're coming to Exmoor and want to get the best experience of our dark skies why not book yourself some Dark Sky Friendly accommodation ? Our accredited as Exmoor Dark Sky Friendly businesses have all received training and are able to help you make the most of our dark skies during your stay.
Festival Organiser - If you have any queries about the festival in general then please contact Katrina Munro KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk
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