Which UK national parks offer night sky photography workshops?

Night sky photography, or astrophotography, has become increasingly popular over the last decade. The pursuit of capturing the beauty of the cosmos, with its twinkling stars and ethereal nebulas, is a deeply rewarding experience. However, to truly excel at this art form, it is crucial to receive expert guidance. Fortunately, several National Parks around the UK offer night sky photography workshops, providing amateur photographers with the chance to learn from experienced professionals. In this article, we shall examine some of the best options available to you.

Dark Sky Reserves in the Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park, home to one of the five International Dark Sky Reserves in the UK, offers night sky photography workshops. These workshops are designed to help you harness the beauty of the night sky through the lens of your camera.

The workshops are led by professional photographers who have a wealth of experience in night sky photography. They provide practical advice on camera settings, composition, and techniques for long exposure photography under the starry skies. These workshops are usually carried out in small groups, providing ample opportunity for one-on-one attention and guidance from the workshop leader.

Stargazing in the Northumberland National Park

Northumberland National Park, also an International Dark Sky Park, boasts some of the darkest skies in England. This makes it an ideal location for night sky photography workshops. The workshops here are typically led by astrophotographers who are well-versed in capturing the beauty of the Milky Way, shooting stars, and other astronomical phenomena.

The workshops are structured in a way to ensure you acquire a robust understanding of the technical aspects of astrophotography, including the use of different lenses, manual focus, and long exposure settings. Alongside this, you'll learn how to plan for an astrophotography shoot by understanding moon phases, weather patterns, and the best times to photograph certain celestial events.

Night Sky Magic at the South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park is another UK Dark Sky Reserve that offers a range of workshops focused on night sky photography. The workshops delve deep into the art of capturing the night sky and provide insights into astrophotography techniques such as star trails, light painting, and time-lapse photography.

The leaders of these workshops will guide you through the process of setting up and using your camera effectively under low-light conditions. Sessions typically include an introduction to astrophotography and practical sessions where you get to apply your newly acquired skills under the dark skies. Whether you're a beginner or have some experience in astrophotography, these workshops are designed to accommodate all skill levels.

Starlight Photography in the Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park is also designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve. It offers night sky photography workshops that can cater to different levels of experience. The workshops are aimed at providing a comprehensive understanding of astrophotography, teaching you how to photograph the night sky in all its glory.

The leaders of these workshops are seasoned photographers who share their expertise in capturing the Milky Way, star trails, and other celestial objects. They also provide guidance on how to use post-processing software to bring out the best in your night sky photographs. This, combined with Exmoor's dark skies, equips participants with the right skills and environment to capture stunning astrophotography images.

Galloway Forest Park's Starry Skies

Though not a National Park, Galloway Forest Park in Scotland is worth mentioning due to its status as the UK's first Dark Sky Park. The park offers night sky photography workshops led by experienced astrophotographers. The workshops cover a wide range of topics, from understanding the basics of camera settings and composition to learning advanced techniques such as capturing star trails and the Milky Way.

The workshop leaders also impart valuable knowledge on how to utilise different photography equipment and software to enhance your night sky images. With the dark and clear skies of Galloway Forest Park as your backdrop, these workshops offer a unique opportunity to hone your astrophotography skills.

Night Sky Wonders in the Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in the UK, is a fantastic place to practice astrophotography due to its remote location and low levels of light pollution. The park offers night sky photography workshops led by professional photographers who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and love for the cosmos.

In these workshops, you will learn how to optimally set up your camera for night sky photography, adjust ISO settings, and master the art of long exposure to capture the constellations, meteor showers, and even auroras that light up the sky. The professional photographers will also provide tips on composition and how to take advantage of the natural landscape to enhance your celestial shots.

The workshops are designed to accommodate different skill levels. Whether you're a complete novice or have been dabbling in astrophotography for a while, you'll find the guidance given invaluable. In addition to practical sessions, these workshops also offer theoretical lessons on celestial navigation and understanding meteorological forecasts to plan your shoots.

Shooting Stars at the Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park, known for its stunning landscapes and lakes, also offers a breathtaking view of the night sky. It is not an International Dark Sky Reserve, but due to its rural location, it still provides ideal conditions for astrophotography. The park offers workshops that cater to beginner and intermediate photographers interested in capturing the beauty of the cosmos.

In these workshops, you will learn about the basics of astrophotography, including how to use manual camera settings to capture the best possible photos of the night sky. The instructors, experienced astrophotographers themselves, provide hands-on guidance on how to frame celestial bodies with the natural landscape, creating compelling compositions.

The workshops also cover advanced astrophotography techniques such as stacking images to reduce noise and improve image quality. You'll leave with a solid understanding of how to work with the night sky, incorporating the landscape into your shots and using photo editing software to enhance your starlit images.


Astrophotography is an art form that requires patience, understanding of celestial patterns, and mastery of camera settings. Fortunately, various national parks in the UK, with their dark skies and serene landscapes, provide ideal conditions for capturing the starlit heavens. The night sky photography workshops offered by these parks are an excellent resource for aspiring astrophotographers.

Whether you're in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Northumberland National Park, South Downs National Park, Exmoor National Park, Galloway Forest Park, Cairngorms National Park, or the Lake District National Park, you'll find experienced professionals ready to guide you through the technical and artistic aspects of astrophotography. Apart from capturing breathtaking images, these workshops provide an opportunity to connect with nature and the cosmos, offering a truly enriching experience.

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