It’s not often that we get to see the full expanse of the night sky in Manchester city centre, but as you go further out, with less light pollution, more and more is revealed. One of these places is the Forest of Bowland, just over an hour’s drive from Manchester, which is hosting a brand-new photography exhibition alongside its annual Dark Skies Festival, celebrating the practice of stargazing.
The Forest of Bowland National Landscape (formerly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and is marking the occasion with a special exhibition of 30 images, all of which were chosen from entries submitted to the Forest of Bowland photography competition during autumn 2023, named ‘Diamonds in the Landscape’.
From far-reaching moorland vistas and stunning wildlife shots to majestic woodlands and atmospheric pastoral scenes, the talented photographers have perfectly captured the variety and beauty of the Bowland landscape.
The exhibition will open at Clitheroe Castle Museum on February 10 and run until April 28, before moving to The Folly in Settle.
The exhibition is in addition to the annual Dark Skies Festival which returns on Saturday 10 February, exhibiting all the Forest of Bowland has to offer in terms of astronomy. With stargazing, photography tips, family crafts and a dark skies-inspired food tour on the menu this year, this week-long programme offers a touch of late winter sparkle and half-term fun.
Hang out at the observatory, cosy up by the campfire or get educated on superfoods under the stars, Dark Skies Festival has something for everyone. Events will be taking place both online and at venues across the National Landscape, which you can explore here.
Covering 800 square kilometres (300 sq miles) of rural Lancashire and North Yorkshire, Bowland’s distinctive landscape of high open fells, rich green lowlands and steep, wooded cloughs was recognised as being amongst the finest in the country and given its official status on 10 February 1964.
Clitheroe Castle Museum Manager, Claire Sutton, said: “From our vantage point above the town, we have fantastic views into the Forest of Bowland, both north and south. This is a place where you can feel connected to the countryside right on the doorstep, so we’re very pleased to host the National Landscape’s 60th anniversary exhibition in our Steward’s Gallery this spring.”
You can find more information and book individual events at the Dark Skies Festival here.