The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is an ambitious annual programme of arts and astronomy events led by An Lanntair, including live music, film, visual art, theatre, astronomy talks, and stargazing, with a strong emphasis on education and outreach.
Our fifth programme ran from 9-21 March 2023. The festival has had to take a year off in 2024 but we are hoping to bring it back in 2025. In the meantime, you can listen to our festival podcast. We also highly recommend a visit to Lewis in the winter of 2023-2024 when you can expect peak northern lights activity as well as the beginning of the next lunar standstill.
“Dark Skies is a festival quite unique in its content, pulling together strands of not just the arts in all its varied and rich forms, but also the sciences, and the overlap in between. The location offers some of the most breath-taking opportunities to witness the night sky of the northern hemisphere at this time of year, which is exactly what many of the events offered entailed… It is in a quite special position to continue to offer such a unique experience and I wholeheartedly recommend and support its continuation in the future.”
Emma Pollock, singer-songwriter.
‘One of the highlights of the past few years for me.’ Chris Lintott, astronomer and presenter of BBC’s The Sky at Night.
“It was a joy to get the chance to perform in Stornoway and see the variety of science communication that was possible. It is so important that this sort of communication travels as much as possible. The festival was wonderfully organised and spending the day at the stones of Callanish before performing gave a whole new perspective when talking about our relationship with the night sky. It was a beautiful celebration to be part of and a joy to play to such a broad audience.” Robin Ince, comedian.
“The festival has a very eclectic programme which is one of its strengths. So many stargazing or astronomy festivals forget the importance of cultural links to engage a wider audience and the science can feel too dry. The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival does not feel like that at all.”
Stephen Mackintosh, Highland Astronomy.
“I think the festival makes a wonderful and unique contribution to the culture of the Hebrides and specifically Lewis. It is putting the islands on the map as the place to go for dark skies activities and I think it in turn raises awareness of the islands as a destination and importantly there are things going on there in the middle of winter. I really think that over time we can all work together to build up the festival and see significant uplift in attendees. I am impressed by the diversity of the programming which has the potential to engage with many different types of audiences.” Andrew MacNair, Caledonian MacBrayne.
The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival was part-financed from 2019 to 2021 by the Scottish Government and the European Community Outer Hebrides Leader 2014-2020 programme, with additional funding from Caledonian MacBrayne. Our 2022 and 2023 festivals were made possible by continued support from Caledonian MacBrayne and new funders Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Culture and Business Fund Scotland.
We would also like to thank our event partners, Calanais Visitor Centre, Stornoway Astronomical Society, Gallan Head Community Trust, and Lews Castle College UHI , as well as Cala Hotels, Outer Hebrides Tourism, and VisitScotland.
Our beautiful festival trailers are created by Isle of Lewis film-maker John Macdonald.
Festival director Andrew Eaton-Lewis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.