The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is an ambitious annual programme of events at An Lanntair and across Lewis, including theatre, live music, film, visual art, food, astronomy talks, and stargazing.
Our second festival took place in February 2020 and included:
- The Only Light Was Stars by Karine Polwart, an exclusive early glimpse of the singer-songwriter’s supernova-themed follow up to her hit show Wind Resistance.
- Robin Ince’s Chaos of Delight, an evening of comedy with the co-host of international smash hit science series The Infinite Monkey Cage and the acclaimed Book Shambles podcast.
- Creativity and Curiosity, an exhibition in An Lanntair’s main gallery of collaborations between artists and astronomers.
- g-Astronomy, an interactive dining experience at An Lanntair and Uig Sands hosted by astrophysicist Roberto Trotta.
Chris Lintott and Steve Pretty at An Lanntair – photograph by Liz Hingley
- A Day of Creativity and Curiosity, a packed day of events on the festival’s opening weekend, including Universe (of Music) with Chris Lintott and Steve Pretty, Karine Polwart in conversation, a ‘visual moonbounce’ event with media artist and trained radio telescope operator Daniela de Paulis, visual artist Kate Bernstein and Sian Prosser of the Royal Astronomical Society on working together, a tribute to Scotland’s late Astronomer Royal John Brown, and more in a day-long meeting of minds between artists and astronomers, curated by An Lanntair and artists Gillian McFarland and Ione Parkin of Creativity and Curiosity.
- A Dark Skies photography exhibition, consisting of shortlisted entries in this year’s photography competition.
- Cosmos Planetarium – returning for a second year, the popular portable planetarium presented a new programme at An Lanntair and across Lewis.
- Dark Skies film programme bringing together four science fiction films – Solaris, Contact, Interstellar and Ad Astra – exploring human connections across the cosmos.
- Stargazing events across the island presented by Highland Astronomy and Steven Gray from Cosmos Planetarium.
- To close the festival, a revival of Neosa’s hugely popular production of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.
The Isle of Lewis has some of the darkest skies in the UK. Many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye including the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way and the Great Andromeda galaxy. Lewis is also one of the best places in the UK to see the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis.
The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is led by An Lanntair in partnership with Calanais Visitor Centre, Stornoway Astronomical Society, Gallan Head Community Trust, and Lews Castle College UHI, with additional support from Outer Hebrides Tourism, CalMac and Cala Hotels.
The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival’s first two years were part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Outer Hebrides LEADER 2014-2020 programme.