A CHILDREN’s TV presenter will join the line-up in the 2018 Dark Skies Festival, organised by the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.

More than 30 new events and locations will feature in the festival, which takes place February 9 to 25, including a stories under the stars storytelling evening hosted by actor and former Cbeebies presenter Alex Winters in the conservatory of the Spa Hotel, Saltburn.

Visitors can go starry-eyed in the company of expert astronomers at new locations, including the Buck Hotel, Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales, Byland Abbey, Ryedale Folk Museum or Chapelgarth Estate at Great Broughton on the North York Moors.

Those who are keen to satisfy both their cosmic curiosity and culinary cravings can eye the skies while tucking into tapas at The Churchmouse, Barbon near Kirkby Lonsdale, eating canapés at Wensleydale’s Bolton Castle, or simply sit outside and look at the stars with a loved one after enjoying a romantic meal at Saltburn’s Spa Hotel on Valentine’s Day.

For runners, walkers and cyclists there are plenty of new events to choose from. These include a 3.5-mile guided night walk through the Land of Iron at Rosedale, bike orienteering at Hawes or an early morning social run up Great Shunner Fell, the third highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales, in time to enjoy the sunrise.

Adrenaline-seekers can also hurtle into the darkness on a zip wire at Go-Ape in Dalby Forest or venture underground at Crackpot Cave in Swaledale to see caving’s answer to the stars with the sparkling calcite formations in the cavernous roof.

There are more sessions with photographers enabling visitors to master night time photography at scenic spots such as Settle, Bolton Abbey, Malham Cove, Sutton Bank and Whitby.

The North York Moors fishing villages are even more atmospheric at night when there are opportunities to go on ghost walks at Robin Hood’s Bay or a candlelit stroll through Staithes to learn more about tales of smuggling.

Wildlife watchers can explore the nocturnal goings-on in the countryside with the Tees Wildlife Trust at Saltburn, rangers from Forest Holidays, an owl prowl at the National Centre for Birds of Prey at Helmsley or a Senses by Starlight Forest Schools evening in the woods at Aysgarth Falls.

Children can immerse themselves in the universe by making rockets, telescopes and planet pom-poms.

For the first time this year the YHA at Whitby is lining up a crafting evening and the Animated Objects Theatre Company is holding lantern-making workshops at Sutton Bank and Danby.

For crafters and art appreciators there is a night sky print workshop at Broadrake in Chapel-le-Dale, Ingleton, and a starry-themed felt-making session in Hawes, while the Inspired by… gallery in Danby will be showcasing how artists and jewellery designers interpret the beauty of the National Parks’ dark skies.

Mike Hawtin, Outdoor Activities Tourism Officer for the North York Moors National Park Authority added: “Whether visitors want to feel as though they’re careering into the cosmos, sedately studying the stars or being wowed by the world of space, the Festival has an event for them.”

For a full programme and ticket details, go to darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk