Night zip wire among activities at Dark Skies Festival

The dark skies above Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales.

The first night zip wire experience in the Yorkshire Dales will be one of the hot tickets during this year’s Dark Skies Festival which takes places from 14 February to 1 March.

Low Mill Outdoor Centre, in Askrigg, is offering visitors over nine years’ old the chance to pretend they’re a shooting star by flying into the night sky attached to a zip wire.

With qualified instructors on-hand the experience will be fully accessible for wheelchair users too.

The centre will also be holding a canoeing session on Semerwater where paddlers will be able to enjoy uninterrupted views of the night sky above the Yorkshire Dales, and a further evening spent in the company of astronomer Richard Darn for a stargazing safari.

These new events are among more than 150 being staged during February half-term to showcase the pristine dark skies above the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks as well as the Nidderdale and Howardian Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Alongside the perennial favourites – everything from astrophotography, running, cycling, walking, caving and nocturnal wildlife spotting evenings – other new events across the Dales include a star party in the peaceful village of Keld, in Upper Swaledale.

At the Garden Rooms at Tennants in Leyburn, there will be a ‘planetarium experience’ with two short films — CAPCOM GO! The Apollo Story and Webb Space Telescope — being screened.

Over in Reeth, the Orchard Gallery at Hudson House will be staging a dark skies-themed exhibition of artwork while at Grassington visitors can learn the art of night navigation or listen to starry bedtime stories at the Stripey Badger Bookshop.

Particularly as the opening night of the Festival coincides with Valentine’s Day, several dark skies-friendly businesses such as Temple Folly at Swinithwaite and Easegill Cottage at Kirkby Stephen are lining up romantic stargazing breaks.

Creating an air of wonderment to help inspire the next generation will be a recurring theme threading through much of the Festival’s programme.

For instance Tan Hill Inn near Reeth will be staging a free space-themed film event in a planetarium from early evening on the first night of the Festival, alongside a number of subsequent stargazing evenings.

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