Stargazing festival programme launches to coincide with 50th anniversary of moon landing

The programme for the third North Pennines Stargazing Festival is being released in the week of the 50th anniversary of the first man on the Moon. The return of the sell-out festival is set for Autumn half term (23 October to 3 November 2019).

This coming Saturday (20 July) marks the 50th anniversary of the moment that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the surface of the Moon. Events in the 2019 stargazing festival celebrate and mark this amazing milestone achievement – including moon talks, family moon trails and moon-themed planetarium shows, alongside broader astronomy, space-themed talks and stargazing opportunities. Also new for this year are a night skies run taking in the iconic High Force waterfall and a ‘Star-E-bike’ adventure at Derwent Waterside Park.

This year’s festival will offer a packed programme of fun and informative events at venues spanning the autumn half-term holidays for the counties of Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria. The festival includes activities for more experienced stargazers alongside events for children and families.
Highlights of the festival include the stunning planetarium film – ‘CAPCOM GO! The Apollo Story’ in our Pop-up Planetarium events (Hexham, Barnard Castle and Alston).

This exciting film marks the 50th anniversary of the first man on the Moon. There will also be night photography workshops at High Force, the Bowes Museum, Raby Castle and at the Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland.

The return of the two-night Star Camp at Doe Park Caravan Site in Teesdale, with star camp veteran and astronomy expert, Richard Darn is set to be popular again. Skywatch events are again scheduled at Killhope Lead Mining Museum and Nenthead Mines – with new venues at Talkin Tarn Country Park and Tan Hill being added to the programme for this year. Sell-out ‘stargazing suppers’ are also making a welcome return to the Lord Crewe Arms with knowledgeable local star guides Andy Gray and Gary Lintern.

The programme is also full of half-term activities, from solar system walks, moon art workshops, family stargazing events at High Force and Raby Castle. For adults and keen astronomers wishing to take their knowledge to a new level, there are talks and astrophotography workshops, plus a chance to learn how to use a telescope at Alston Moor Golf Club with expert trainers.

Shane Harris, Responsible Tourism Lead for the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “The festival was fully booked last year and we hope that our events for 2019 will be as popular. We have a wide range of events spread across the whole of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, appealing to local people and visitors to the area. The North Pennines is the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy stargazing – the festival is designed to make it easy for people to celebrate the area’s fabulous starry skies.”

The festival has been organised by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and is supported by Visit County Durham, Northumberland County Council and Carlisle City Council.

Discover the entire programme at