Our fifth Hebridean Dark Skies Festival ran from 9-21 March 2023. The programme included:
- Two Planetarium weekends with indoor astronomy shows by Edinburgh science attraction Dynamic Earth, making its first trip to Lewis, and Cosmos Planetarium. The two planetariums spent five days travelling to schools across Lewis over five days in addition to hosting two days of public screenings at An Lanntair.
- David Bowie in Space: The Concert, for which musicians Josie Duncan, Scott C Park, Michael McGovern and Andrew Eaton Lewis created and performed imaginative new arrangements of ten of Bowie’s space-themed songs, from Starman and Life on Mars to Blackstar, with astrophotography visuals provided by Mark Waugh and Andy Yearley of Stornoway Astronomical Society.
- Lass O’Pairts, a new indoor performance by Mischief La Bas, Scotland’s long-running street theatre company, in which colourful aliens shared the stories of eight female pioneers in cosmology and space travel with the help of beautifully designed ‘artefacts’. Mischief La Bas’s first visit to Lewis included schools performances as well as a day of public performances at An Lanntair.
- Ask the Astronomers, a live-streamed event with Highland Astronomy and Dynamic Earth watched by over 400 people.
- You Are Here, an interactive digital map of the stars above the Isle of Lewis, created by Edinburgh design studio Ray Interactive. The map, in An Lanntair’s main gallery, updated live as time passes, the presence of visitors generating unique abstract animations – a reminder that all life originates in the stars.
- Creative space-themed workshops at An Lanntair led by our education and outreach team, in which children built a TARDIS, kaleidoscopes, alien landscapes and models of ET across two festival weekends. Our E&O team also ran 11 space sessions for pre-schoolers in An Lanntair’s auditorium, creating sculptures of meteors and a rocket that later featured in our David Bowie in Space concert. In total our E&O activities reached over 1000 people.
- Stargazing events at four venues across the island (Gallan Beag Cafe in Aird Uig, Grinneabhat in Bragar, Calanais Visitor Centre and Scalable Centre) with Stephen Mackintosh of Highland Astronomy.
- Chasing the Aurora, an online talk by astrophotographer Wil Cheung in partnership with Outer Hebrides Tourism.
- The Music of the Solar System, an exhibition of interplanetary musicology by Dr Ray Sound, exploring the music scenes on Venus, Mars and more.
- Screenings of ET: The Extra Terrestrial, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Under the Skin.
Our 2023 festival was supported by funding from Caledonian MacBrayne with additional support from Culture and Business Fund Scotland, Outer Hebrides Tourism and Cala Hotels.