The full programme has been produced and event booking has now opened for the first Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from 19 to 29 October celebrating the National Park’s status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. There are more than 25 events to appeal to families and children, as well as those more experienced in watching the stars.
The festival is sponsored by Airband. Managing Director, Redmond Peel, said, “We’re delighted to be sponsoring the very first Dark Skies Festival. Over the last two years Airband have worked closely with Exmoor National Park on the roll out of superfast broadband, so it’s a great opportunity to be involved with the festival focussing on just some of the incredible and unique phenomena Exmoor has to offer.”
At the start of the festival over 500 schoolchildren will be on Exmoor to learn about the night skies before the festival launch event with astronomer, journalist and presenter Will Gater. The launch will include the first public showing of a new film all about Exmoor’s Dark Skies followed by a talk about viewing the stars and Milky Way from Exmoor as well as rarer phenomena such as the Northern Lights which people might not think they could see or photograph from so far south.
Other indoor events include an astro-photography talk, a special film showing of 2001: Space Odyssey and art displays as well as several planetarium sessions all around Exmoor. The planetarium offers inspirational and immersive 360-degree experiences of the solar system. 3D digital projections are created using sophisticated computer simulations, presented by an experienced astronomer to take you deep into the wonders of space.
For families there will be an amazing Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, with fun hands-on sessions and virtual-reality experiences as well as traditional stargazing and a night-time forest walk and campfire. For the more adventurous there is night-time mountain biking, a night swim or an exhilarating night-navigation walk with a National Park Ranger. Other outdoor activities include dusk safaris and a guided night walk up to Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor.
Exmoor National Park’s Katrina Munro, who is co-ordinating the festival, said, “Interest has already been high including international enquiries and media coverage. The printed Festival Programme can now be collected from National Park Centres and our online booking facility has also opened enabling visitors to plan in advance. This is the first festival of its kind on Exmoor and we’re looking forward to introducing many people to the wonders above!”
Full details of the Dark Skies Festival events and online booking is available from the National Park’s website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/stargazing/dark-skies-festival . Advanced booking is highly recommended to guarantee entry to events and a special early bird discount of 10% is available for many events booked before the 15 September.