Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

Northumberland is home to a number of completely unique attractions, from historical castles to some of England's best loved beaches - but one of the region's most irresistible assets is the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park.

This phenomenal park is your key to the universe, offering an unfiltered, uninhibited view of the breath-taking night sky - and our guide to this stellar local sensation has everything you'll need to know to make your visit a memorable one.

The International Dark Sky Association

The International Dark Sky Association exists to protect night skies worldwide - educating followers on the impact of light pollution and bestowing the title of a ‘designated Dark Sky Park' to starry spots all over the globe. The Dark Sky Places programme began in 2001, with an aim to inspire the preservation of dark sites through a conscientious, forward-thinking approach to lighting policies.

There are 51 honorary ‘Dark Sky Places' across the world, famed for their top-notch outdoor lighting and providing exciting dark sky programmes for visitors far and wide. The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is one of the region's biggest draws - giving tourists and locals alike a chance for some unparalleled stargazing in Europe's largest dark skies park.

Kielder Forest Dark Skies Park

Northumberland's dark skies park is situated in the heart of the county, comprising of the Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park. Over 80% of us have never seen a truly dark sky - and this regional wonder creates an opportunity for visitors to experience the unpolluted heavens in all their galactic glory.

With the chance to feast your eyes on up to 2000 glittering stars at any given time, and with unobscured views of the magnificent Milky Way, the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is an incredibly popular spot for enthusiastic astronomers and nature lovers alike. Unveiled in December of 2013 and 572 square miles in size, the park is officially the best place in England for pure, unadulterated stargazing.

Stargazing in Northumberland

Strictly speaking, the autumn and winter months are stargazing season - with tourists across the UK and the globe flocking to Northumberland's spectacular dark skies park for a glimpse of the glorious night sky. Whether you're planning a week-long holiday or in the region solely to see the Northumberland sky for yourself, the number of seasonal events on offer make it easy to indulge in some local astronomy during your visit to the area.

Visit Northumberland offers a full breakdown of regional stargazing events, helping astronomy fans to find a star-studded evening in the heart of this one-of-a-kind county. Events include everything from family affairs to starlight safaris - each one both educational and truly awe-inspiring.

What you'll need

If you're embarking on a dark sky experience of your own, it's key to bring the right kit for the job. Seeing Northumberland's dark skies at their absolute best requires some preparation - so make the most of it by remembering all the equipment you'll need for this astronomical adventure:

  • The free SkyView app is a stargazing essential - giving users a way to explore the universe like never before. Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod, this app is a nifty way to engage with the night sky - accessing information on the many beautiful constellations visible from Kielder Forest Park

  • Red light torches are made for stargazers, preserving your dark-adapted vision and helping you to read with ease under the incredible starlit sky

  • Binoculars are every amateur astronomer's trusty companion - compact, lightweight and guaranteed to give you a good look at the mesmerising Milky Way

  • A telescope will help you to get up close and personal with Northumberland's dark skies - and you won't need a professional product to enhance your stargazing experience

  • Blankets, hot drinks and deck chairs are all sure to make your evening at the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park a cosy one. After that, all that remains is to pull up a pew and look to the heavens

Our holiday cottages

At Cottages in Northumberland, our collection of holiday cottages are ideal for short breaks in the region - and if you're organising a stargazing adventure at Kielder Forest, we've got your accommodation taken care of. Whether you're looking to stay in Wooler, Low Alwinton or Rothbury, we have a diverse range of Northumberland cottages to guarantee you find your perfect fit.

With cottages on the border of this international attraction and in surrounding areas, our range of self catering properties mean you can relax under a blanket of bright stars and retreat to a cosy cottage when the day is over.

When it comes to the ingredients for an unforgettable holiday, stargazing is universal. To bask in the glow of our bright galaxy, explore our range of holiday cottages in Northumberland online today.