THE spectacular dark skies of the North Penninnes will be celebrated when a popular stargazing festival returns.

Organisers of the North Pennines Stargazing Festival have announced the dates of this year’s event, which they say will be “out of this world.” The festival, launched last year, will run from October 20 until November 4, with more than 30 events taking place in and around the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark.

Shane Harris, responsible tourism lead for the North Pennines AONB Partnership, which is organising the event, said: “The bigger and better festival this year will mean that more people will have the chance to come along to one of the events, and there are opportunities for visitors to the area to come and stay to enjoy the amazing experience of our truly dark skies.”

Last year over 800 people attended Stargazing Festival events, including over 250 at the family Skywatch at Killhope Lead Mining Museum. This popular Skywatch event will run again in 2018 alongside numerous new additions to the programme.

Gary Lintern, Chair of the North Pennines Astronomy Society, said: “A lot of people don’t realise that we have some of the darkest skies in the country. They don’t need to travel far to be able to see the Milky Way, for instance. We have observatories too, including the North Pennine Observatory hosted by Allenheads Contemporary Arts, the new one at Killhope, and others owned by communities and local venues. The 2018 Stargazing Festival offers opportunities to attend events in all these fantastic stargazing venues. It will be an unmissable fortnight of events.”

To find out more about the festival, funded by Durham County Council, Northumberland County Council and Visit County Durham, visit