THE LAKE District, Cumbria easily outshines the city lights for a memorable autumn or winter holiday, with more than 1,000 stars visible on a clear night – complimented by part of our own galaxy The Milky Way, which majestically stretches across the night sky.

Following the clocks changing last weekend, Cumbria Tourism says now is the perfect time for business to benefit from the value of ‘dark skies’ tourism.

According to light pollution maps issued by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Lake District, Cumbria is one of the best places in England for a star-gazing getaway. The National Park and our designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, along with surrounding areas across the county offer a number of locations perfect for a night of stargazing, giving plenty of opportunities for businesses across the county to attract the next generation of stargazers.

Sue Clarke, Marketing Manager at Cumbria Tourism, says, “Cumbria’s lack of light pollution means you are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to see the stars.

“The North Pennines Area is recognised as one of the darkest places in England, while Low Gillerthwaite at Ennerdale is designated as a Dark Sky Discovery Site and Grizedale Forest has regular star gazing events for all the family to enjoy – to name just three.

“Research shows that stargazing activities are a great way to help boost winter tourism, by extending the season and encouraging overnight stays.

“Stargazing gives visitors an opportunity to explore the county in a new and immersive way, fitting perfectly with people’s renewed desire to enhance their health and wellbeing, discover the outdoors and get closer to nature.”

Cumbria Tourism’s ‘Dark Skies’ initiative is part of #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign to help tourism and hospitality businesses develop new and innovative ways to inspire potential visitors throughout the autumn and winter.

Its new package of business support activity and resources provides an introduction into dark skies tourism, hints and tips, and imagery to help businesses develop and market their own stargazing activities, events and packages.

Cumbria Tourism is also holding an online workshop on Thursday 26 November to introduce businesses to the benefits of ‘dark skies tourism’.

The session will include Astronomers Richard Darn and Neill Sanders who will talk about why dark skies matter, and give tips on marketing, apps and appropriate equipment. Forestry England will also discuss how they are harnessing dark skies tourism.

Mark Holroyd, Head of Recreation and Communications for Forestry England, says, “Looking up at the night sky has never been more important. Around 85% of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way, but that special connection with nature is a great way to inspire the imagination and increase happiness.

“Forests like Grizedale and Whinlatter play an important role in protecting dark night skies and are the perfect place to appreciate what we have. We’re firmly behind these plans to help visitors celebrate one of Cumbria’s most special natural assets.”