Exmoor Dark Skies Festival

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival

Every year, autumn brings about the spectacular Exmoor Dark Skies Festival.  This is a star-studded series of events, during the prime time of year for star-gazing.  The days before & after the October new moon, the skies are at their absolute darkest.  And, because the national parks of Exmoor are areas with very low light pollution, this means thousands and thousands of stars can be seen here shining their brightest at this time of year.

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2023 Programme

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 2023 runs from Friday 13th to Sunday 29th October.  And this year brings you yet another fantastic line-up of incredible ways to experience this magical time underneath the stars.  There is, as usual, a host of fun and fascinating events for you to get stuck into.

You can take a night walk through the Valley of the Rocks, watch out for wildlife with night-vision cameras, practise yoga under the stars… There will be guided moorland walks, night sky photography evenings, stargazing supper clubs, family friendly fun with Exmoor ponies and open top bus adventures.  And there’s so much to learn too!  From talks & lessons on stargazing and astronomy, to space & sky themed arts & craft classes…  There are even “astro-parties” on the agenda!

There is something for everyone; whether you are a keen night-sky enthusiast, looking for family-friendly entertainment, on a romantic weekend away or just wanting to connect with the universe in all its glory… For the full programme of events, please click here.

About the Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve

These days, there are fewer and fewer places where the night sky can be observed in all its beauty… but Exmoor is one of them.  In recognition of the incredible starry skies visible here, Exmoor National Park was awarded Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve Status in 2011 by the International Dark-Sky Association. The National Park will therefore be working with businesses, councils and local individuals in order to preserve the fantastic low light pollution levels in the area.

Outside on a dark night, here on Exmoor, it’s possible to see up to 3,000 stars with the naked eye.  In a city environment, you are likely to see maybe 200 stars, if you’re lucky!  So, you can quickly appreciate the unique sights this rural landscape has to offer.  We think you’ll find that gazing into the velvety blackness of a night sky sparkling with stars is an undeniably special experience.

Exmoor star gazing
Credit: Keith Trueman

Other Dark Skies Top Tips

  1. 1. Aim to start your stargazing on Exmoor at least an hour and a half after sunset, so that the sky has had a chance to get properly dark.
  2. 2. The closer you get to the new moon, the more stars will be visible, because even the smallest stars have a chance to shine in the pitch black with no moonlight.
  3. 3. Your eyes can take a while to adjust to the dark, before your night-vision kicks in.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to use red torch lights, to get to or set up your stargazing spot, if you can.  These are much better at preserving your night-vision than white lights are.
  4. 4. Plot your stargazing spot in daylight, so you know where to go when it’s dark.  And make sure that it’s away from the glare of any other lights. Oh, and that it’s public land!
  5. 5. Wrap up warm!  Even in high summer, it can get pretty chilly in the middle of the night, and you’ll last longer, enjoy it more and be more likely to see shooting stars & meteor showers if you’re cosy & comfortable.
  6. 6. Wimbleball Lake is known to be a particularly beautiful spot for stargazing on Exmoor, and is a favourite for those into Astrophotography.
  7. 7. The Poltimore Inn, near South Molton, has an observatory with telescopes! There is an event there as part of the festival on the night of the new moon but, whenever you go, check it out regardless for a chance to get a closer look.

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Accommodation

The Dark Skies events are held across Exmoor, with stars galore wherever you stay – you only have to look up!  For an overview of all our self-catering accommodation available for the dark skies festival follow the link below.

dark skies exmoor accommodation

There are a few spots known for particularly fantastic star gazing though.  We recommend you try County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake.

For accommodation near:

County Gate and Brendon Two Gates follow this link (Malmsmead)
Webbers Post follow this link (Luccombe or Wooten Courtenay)
Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake follow this link (around Bampton)

Or here are a few of our other Exmoor favourites…

Accommodation across Exmoor

Cottages in Porlock Weir

Places to stay in Porlock

Other posts you might like:

Stargazing on Exmoor

Things to Do on Exmoor through November & December

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