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Dark Skies Festival


'Exmoor at Night’ Photography & Astrophotography Competition - part of the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2020

Exmoor Milky Way c Kieth Trueman

Help us to celebrate and capture the truly dark skies, amazing wildlife and tranquility of Exmoor National Park.

Four categories (A-C have classes for under 16s and 16+) as below:

A. Exmoor Icons at Night

B. Enjoying Exmoor’s dark skies (a focus on people exploring and enjoying dark skies, using telescopes, going on night hikes etc).

C. Night Sky over Exmoor Landscapes

D.  Deep Sky photos taken from Exmoor (one class, any age)

Full details of the competition here

Our thanks to Astronomy Now Magazine, Exmoor Magazine, Wicked Wolf Gin, Miles Tea & Coffee, Celestron Telescopes and Canongate Publishers for supporting us with competition prizes.


Exmoor Dark Skies Festival - 16th to 31st October 2020

" !!  September 24th Coronavirus Update !!  - we have reviewed the most recent government guidance and are happy that these events can still go ahead.  Due to the changing circumstances, we may have to re-visit this decision and amend or cancel some events in the future. Updates will be placed here. All events are being fully risk-assessed and the necessary covid measures put in place. Thank you for your understanding.

Some events are run by Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) and others are led by local businesses or groups. All events must be pre-booked with the appropriate event organiser. ENPA is not responsible for events run by other businesses - for their risk assessments, terms and cancellation policies please contact the business direct. Scroll to bottom of page for ENPA terms etc. and contact details for the festival coordinator."

Dusk Safaris with Exmoor Wildlife Safaris - Various dates by prior arrangement

Book an exclusive Land Rover safari with a very experienced wildlife safari guide. During these dusk safaris, whatever the weather, Daphne will take you to some amazing places and you should be able to experience some of the magical sights and sounds of Exmoor as darkness falls. Setting out from Exford in the heart of Exmoor as the sun goes down, learn all about the area from your knowledgeable guide. Experience real Exmoor at dusk as you go in search of wildlife and hear intriguing local legends. You may also be lucky enough to hear the red deer stags bolving. Safari tours last approximately 2.5 hours and there is a fixed total fee of £175 for a family group or bubble of up to seven passengers. Whether you choose to book for 1 or the maximum of 7 passengers - you'll have a great experience. For dates please call 07977571494 or email exmoorwildlifesafaris@gmail.com 

Night Walk, Stargazing and (optional) Pub Supper with Wild About Exmoor - 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th October

Meet your hosts for an informative evening of stargazing with knowledgeable astronomer Jennie Wild. Meet up in Exford village at 6.30pm for a night walk under the stars followed by guided stargazing using telescopes and binoculars. Lots of starry information and help, and light refreshments at their farmhouse followed by the option of booking supper in the traditional The Crown Inn or White Horse hotel. Supper is arranged and priced individually to allow full choice of the menu. Price for Stargazing experience: £18 adults, £10 children. Advance booking through Wild About Exmoor essential. Call 01643 831759 www.wildaboutexmoor.com or email info@wildaboutexmoor.com for more information.

Friday 16th October - 4.30pm Family Stars and Planets at Horner Farm, near Porlock Bring your family to enjoy a session learning about the Solar System and Planets with Professor Roger Davies, an eminent astrophysicist and cosmologist from Oxford University. From 4.30pm - 5.30pm, this event is tailored to families. The price is £24 per table to ensure social distancing. Each table can sit up to 6 people so bring along your extended family or social bubble.You will be welcomed with a hot drinks or soft drink on arrival with cupcakes to enjoy while you listen and chat. First drink, food and talk all included in the price.Details and Booking here

Friday 16th October - 6.45pm From Galaxies to Life - Talk and Supper at Horner Farm, near Porlock Join us for an evening with Professor Roger Davies, an eminent astrophysicist and cosmologist from Oxford University. Welcomed with nibbles and enjoy a drink from the bar. Professor Davies will give us a 50 minutes talk on 'From Galaxies to Life'. And all being well with the weather, we offer the opportunity to stargaze from our Courtyard. Following on from the talk we shall serve a warming autumnal casserole using Horner farm grass fed beef and Plowright Organic vegetables, There will also be a vegetarian option available.Ticket price includes talk and all food. Drinks available from our Bar. Our venue is within our traditional barns being undercover but it is advisable to dress warmly for the weather.Due to Covid restrictions we are only able to take bookings from groups of a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 6 people.If you are wishing to attend as a single ticket holder please contact us to discuss. Details and Booking here

Friday 16th October - Sunday 18th October - Heale under the Stars Retreat at Heale Farm, Parracombe With spectacular views of the sea and moors, Heale Farm is set in 23 acres of pasture, woodland and has grazing and access rights over a further 18 acres of rugged Exmoor land. Relax, unwind and benefit from taking time to stop and look up into the night sky, reminding us that we are only a very small part of a much greater whole, gaining insights into our patterns, thoughts and behaviours which will lead to remarkable change. For full details, retreat programme and prices for this 3 day rural retreat with luxury barn accommodation visit www.healefarm.co.uk Enquiries and booking: 01598 763813 hello@healefarm.co.uk

Saturday 17th October - Bossington Beacon Ranger Guided Walk and Stargazing Join a National Park Ranger on a guided walk to learn more about the area and the stars in this fantastic location on the north coast of Exmoor. Numbers will be limited to approx 25 so there's plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the walk safely. Hear from our Ranger Charlotte Wray about her love of moths and why they’re important to the environment. Learn how to set up your own moth trap and identify different species. Weather permitting, assistance with stargazing will be available from Exmoor Stargazers. £5 Adults. £3 Children. Booking here. ENPA event.

Sunday 18th October - 5-6pm Solar System Talk and Stargazing Family Event at Torre Cider Farm, Washford Explore the Solar System and discover the many shapes of galaxies with Professor Roger Davies of Oxford University.A family friendly, interactive talk under cover followed by an opportunity to star-gaze in our beautiful orchard, weather permitting.Food and drink will be available to purchase at our café.Tickets £5 each, with space strictly limited to 30 people. This event will be Covid compliant. Call 01984 640004 or email info@torrecider.co.uk

Sunday 18th October - 7-8pm Adult only Talk (Galaxies & Black Holes) and Stargazing at Torre Cider Farm, Washford Explore the relationship between galaxies and black holes with Professor Roger Davies, the President of the European Astronomical Society, who currently teaches at Oxford University. Professor Davies’ talk will be followed by a Q & A and then opportunity to stargaze in our beautiful orchard, weather permitting. The main talk will be under cover and food and drink will be available to purchase at our café. Tickets £5 each, with space strictly limited to 30 people. This event will be Covid compliant. Call 01984 640004 or email info@torrecider.co.uk

Sunday 18th-21st October - Book a 3 night Stargazing and Walking Break at Simonsbath House Hotel at Simonsbath 01643 831259

Monday 19th to Wednesday 21st October - A fantastic 2 night stargazing break with expert talks and stargazing guidance at the Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster. This is an additional themed break as the hotel's stargazing break  on 23-25th is now fully booked. www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk http://www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk/pdfs/Star-Gazing-Flyer-2020.pdf

Monday 19th October - 6.30pm Stargazing, Supper &Talk from Astronomer Terry Evans of Exmoor Stargazers, Westerclose House, Withypool. Join Terry Evans and your hosts for a relaxed evening with a presentation, supper and stargazing (weather permitting) in the heart of Exmoor Price £12 per person. A range of accommodation options is also available for those who want an overnight stay. Call 01643 831302 or 07765 916736 to enquire/book or email polly@westerclose.co.uk www.westerclose.co.uk

Monday 19th October  and Tuesday 20th October,  Dark Skies Adventure by Boat from Minehead with AlyKat Charter Boats departing from Minehead at 7.30pm These 2 hour boat trips will be for a maximum of 8 persons of the same group. The "Alykat" is a 10 mtr power driven catamaran. She has ample deck space and seating for everyone on board. We sail from Minehead harbour and for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, we are pleased to be able to offer these two exclusive evening trips down the Exmoor coastline to Porlock Bay. With luck we may have clear skies and pitch black conditions, giving the opportunity to see some awesome night time sky sightings. You may wish to bring food and a hot flask. Book for your own exclusive group/bubble of up to 8 people - Total cost £150. Contact Dave Roberts on 07764 150648 or email alykatcharters@aol.com for more information and to book.

Thursday 22nd October  -  Heale Stars & Nature Evening at Heale Farm, Parracombe Walk, sit, gaze & graze!
Arriving at 7pm we will walk through the moor to our field looking East across to the sea, we will walk, gaze, and wonder!
Followed by sitting around the Fire Pit with a late graze box supper. Up to 6 people £75pp. Luxury barn accommodation also available. Visit www.healefarm.co.uk Enquiries and booking: 01598 763813 hello@healefarm.co.uk

Thursday 22nd October - Autumn Feast under the Stars at Horner Farm Near Porlock Enjoy a safe socially-distanced supper in the beautiful surroundings of our working Exmoor farm. Focusing on seasonal produce by seeking out suppliers who share our goals of high quality produce, our feasts are not just about food, but also about coming together to celebrate the season. An informal talk is featured giving you an insight into our farm  and surrounding wildlife under the stars. www.horner-farm.co.uk/events

Friday 23rd October -  Stargazing at Torre Cider Farm,Washford 7pm to 10pm Camp out on our ridge, where people can bring their own blanket and telescope/binoculars or just their plain old eyes. We will have a chat about what we might be able to see then simply spend the evening laying on the ground looking up.  Hot chocolate, drinks and cakes for sale. Further details to follow. Enquiries to Hellen at info@torrecider.co.uk

Friday 23rd October 6pm - Ranger Guided Walk up Hollerday Hill, Lynton Meet your guides Ranger Dave Gurnett and local expert Tony Piper at Lynton Town Hal at 6pm before zig-zagging your way up through the trees and later views through this spectacular scenery. Whether it's clear or cloudy, the tranquil atmosphere of this location at night will blow you mind! Numbers limited to 25. Walk lasts 1.5 -2 hours depending on weather and visibility. £5 Adults £3 children. Booking here. ENPA event.

Friday 23rd-25th October - A fantastic 2 night stargazing break at the Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster. Includes expert talks and stargazing guidance. UPDATE:  FULLY BOOKED See 19th oct for another break www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk http://www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk/pdfs/Star-Gazing-Flyer-2020.pdf

Saturday 24th October - 6pm Virtual event - Beginners' Guide to Astrophotography with Tom Pinches (an event for Devon Dark Skies Week). Awaiting more details.

Monday 26th October - 11am Virtual event - 'In the Night Sky' - an on-line family workshop by astronomer Jo Richardson (an event for Devon Dark Skies week)  All details and booking here

Monday 26th October - Virtual event - The future of Dark Skies - with Bob Mizon from the Commission for Dark Skies (an event for Devon Dark Skies Week) Awaiting more details.

Tuesday 27th October - 4.30-6.30pm Family activity session with Outdoor Adventure and Astro presentation at the National Park's Pinkery Outdoor Centre Nr Simonsbath.  Join our experienced Rangers and staff for an outdoor adventure then return to base for a stargazing presentation 'In the Night Sky' and constellation activity with expert guide Jo Richardson. If weather is poor an indoor presentation will be offered with social distancing measures in place. Family session 4.30-6.30pm. Booking and details here ENPA event £8 adults £6 children. Enquiries to KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Tuesday 27th October - 7.30-9.30pm Activity session with Outdoor Adventure and Astro Presentation and Stargazing at the National Park's Pinkery Outdoor Centre Nr Simonsbath.  Designed for adults and older children, join our experienced Rangers and staff for an outdoor adventure then return to base for a stargazing presentation 'In the Night Sky' and activity session with expert guide Jo Richardson. If weather is poor an indoor presentation will be offered with social distancing measures in place.  Adults and older children 7.30-9.30pm Booking and details here. ENPA event. Adults £8, Children £6. Enquiries to KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Tuesday 27th October  -  Heale Stars & Nature Evening at Heale Farm, Parracombe Walk, sit, gaze & graze!
Arriving at 7pm we will walk through the moor to our field looking east across to the sea, we will walk, gaze, and wonder!
Followed by sitting around the Fire Pit with a late graze box supper. Up to 6 people £75pp. Luxury barn accommodation also available. Visit www.healefarm.co.uk Enquiries and booking: 01598 763813 hello@healefarm.co.uk

Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th October - Wildlife at Night at Exmoor Pony Centre, Nr. Dulverton Full details TBC. Please phone 01398 323093 or email info@exmoorponycentre.org.uk

Thursday 29th October 7.30pm - Virtual event - Exmoor By Bioluminescence. Join our Ranger Patrick Watts-Mabbott and the Exmoor volunteers for a one-hour live virtual event on one of the wonders of nature. Learn about bioluminescent wildlife on Exmoor.  Including insects, fungi and mosses.  We’ll look at folklore and science and even pixies' footprints…..(which are real obviously….). We’ll cover how to recognise them and where to go to see them on Exmoor.  Viewing without participation will be free (link will be added here), or you can sign up for a registration fee of just £2 to enter the virtual room and join in the conversation and questions. ENPA event. Register here

Friday 30th October  - 4.30-6.30pm Astro Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor. Be part of a small group to enjoy a guided walk with a National Park Ranger as the sun goes down and the full moon rises. Hear from our Ranger Charlotte Wray about her love of moths and why they’re important to the environment. Learn how to set up your own moth trap and identify different species. Join astronomer Jo Richardson for a presentation about the Moon, its craters and hear the latest space travel stories!  Weather permitting and with Jo’s help, there’s a chance of some guided stargazing. Numbers limited to 25 each session. Family session suitable for younger children - ideal for family/friends bubbles.  4.30-6.30pm. ENPA event. Booking and details here

Friday 30th October  - 7.30-9.30pm Moonlit Adventure at Wimbleball Lake Activity Centre on the south eastern edge of Exmoor. Be part of a small group to enjoy a guided walk with a National Park Ranger under a moon-lit and starry sky. Hear from our Ranger Charlotte Wray about her love of moths and why they’re important to the environment. Learn how to set up your own moth trap and identify different species. Join astronomer Jo Richardson for a presentation about the moon (which should be in full view), its craters and hear the latest space travel stories!  Weather permitting and with Jo’s help, there’s a chance of some guided stargazing. Numbers limited to 25 each session. Adults and older children session - ideal for family/friends bubbles.  7.30-9.30pm. ENPA event.Booking and details here

Dunkery Beacon Country House Hotel at Wootton Courtenay is ideally located for s spot of stargazing with far reaching views.Book a stay in the boutique accommodation and the chef proprietor John Bradley who is a keen amateur astronomer will be delighted to asist you with spotting constellations and planets with the naked eye or using his telescope.  Email info@dunkerybeaconaccommodation.co.uk www.dunkerybeaconaccommodation.co.uk

Exmoor Character Cottages have some great accommodation breaks lined up during the festival which include a night with astronomer Tim Wetherell from Exmoor Stargazers. Read more here.

Heale Farm near Parracombe has luxury barn accommodation and has also arranged a 3-day dark skies retreat and separate dark skies evenings (see above). Read more at www.healefarm.co.uk

Festival Organiser - If you'd like to know more about the festival in general or events then please contact the specific event organiser or Katrina Munro on 01398 322236 or email Katrina on  KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Terms and Conditions: The festival is hosted by Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) and also includes events run by partner organisations and businesses. Each event organiser is responsible for their own event safety, risk assessment and bookings, refunds and cancellation policy. Due to the weather, covid-19 restrictions or other reasons, there may be changes to the events as described above.If an ENPA event needs to be cancelled, we will, as far as is practicably possible, notify ticket holders in advance and refunds will be issued. ENPA are unable to offer a refund or exchange for our own events at the request of the ticket holder. For the refund and cancellation policy for other organisers' events please refer to them direct.