Dark Sky experiences in the Cairngorms National Park

Dark Sky experiences in the Cairngorms National Park 2024

With the International Dark Skies week in April, we wanted to highlight the array of dark sky experiences which have been launched across the Cairngorms National Park this year. We’re home to some of the darkest and most magical skies in the world: with fewer towns and no cities, the night is darker, the stars brighter and the vastness is more palpable. 

If you have ever looked up and wanted to discover more, the dark skies of the Cairngorms National Park are a spectacular starting point.  

Check out our wonderful dark sky experiences, the perfect magical addition to your Highland holiday, and let the wonderful folk of the Cairngorms guide you on a Dark Sky discovery: from Storywalks, to Lochside stargazing, the most Northerly Dark Sky Park in the world in Tomintoul and Glenlivet and forest bathing by night, there are loads of choices…let the dark skies come to life…

Tomintoul and Glenlivet Cairngorms Dark Sky Park & Discovery Centre

Image: Dave Newlands

Tomintoul and Glenlivet Cairngorms Dark Sky Park & Discovery Centre is a cracking starting point on your Dark Sky discovery. Hosting various events across the year.

Awarded the coveted Dark Sky Park status in 2018, it is the most northerly Dark Sky Park in the world and a wondrous spot to see the Northern Lights.  

These guys know their stuff – explore the wonders of star gazing with the naked eye; see the hidden depths of space revealed by a telescope and the magic of aurora borealis (if you are lucky!).

Strathspey Storywalks

Image: Strathspey Storywalks

The sky is full of stories – Gaelic and Pictish tales that are thousands of years old but now almost completely forgotten. 

From warrior goddesses, one-eyed giants, shape shifting creatures, cities and palaces, to a couple of bad-tempered cows, hearing and seeing these incredible Scottish stories play out across the skies gives a whole new dimension to stargazing. 

It also shows the connection of people living and working the land, moving with the rhythms of the stars, planets and seasons – the skies and the land are inseparable.

Strathspey Storywalks combines stars and storywalks to create an experience that is firmly rooted in Highland heritage.  

These stargazing strolls around Aviemore and Glenmore, are guided short walks with Gaelic and Pictish stories.  These Dark Sky Tales will fill your imagination. 

Loch Insh Outdoor Centre

Image: Loch Insh Outdoor Centre

Loch Insh is a fabulous dark skies spot. Lots of warm layers, a low light torch and a fully charged smartphone will be needed to get the most out of your Dark Sky experience on the woodland trails around the Loch.  

You will be guided to some magical local hideaways, with naked eye observation and the chance to be taught how to capture night photos on your phone.  

Loch Insh by night is quite something – cloaked woodland trails, the Loch illuminated by the moon, the gentle pulse of the water lapping the shore line and peaceful tranquillity.  

Highland Quietlife

Image: Highland Quietlife

Join Highland Quietlife this winter for forest bathing (or shinrin-yoku) sessions under the comforting blanket of the night sky. 

During a relaxed walk through the ancient pine forest of the Cairngorms, you will spend time immersed within a darker landscape, turning on our own ‘night vision’ and exploring the textures, sounds and night sky around us. 

This is a time to reconnect with yourself and nature in a very relaxed session – with tea and snacks to finish!


Image: VisitScotland

Hillgoers have special plans for an evening adventure this April at Loch Muick – where they are hoping to see an amazing sunset (it will take in the golden hour…bring your camera to capture the magic!), starry night, and the Lyrid meteor shower!  There will even be night vision scopes to search for any wildlife in the area.  A special spot for a truly memorable experience.

Wild Stargazing Experience at Howe of Torbeg Glamping pods

Image: Howe of Torbeg Glamping Pods

Enjoy a night under the stars in the Cairngorms National Park, with a truly unique wild stargazing experience at Howe of Torbeg Glamping pods. 

Join one of their guided tours with a qualified dark sky guide and start your stargazing experience around a firepit holding a warming drink before walking into a local Glen to gaze at the night sky.  You will leave with a full heart and a little gift to remind you of your experience: a wooden pinhole bauble of one of the most well known groups of stars in our night skies, the Plough. 

Mountain Skies Braemar

Image: Mountain Skies Braemar

Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this pristine wilderness offers some of the most breath taking celestial views in the UK. As you embark on your stargazing and dark sky adventure, let us also weave the rich tapestry of legends and stories from the Braes of Mar, connecting you with the land’s ancient past.

Your guide a winter mountain leader, NNAS navigation tutor and dark star ranger, has nearly 40 years of experience of walking the hills and glens of Royal Deeside. He knows a story or two about the area, its ancient past and its connection with the people who lived here.

Rowan Tree Hotel – Stay & Dark Sky Tour

Immerse yourself in the wondrous darkness of the Cairngorms National Park and be captivated by the untouched beauty of the darkness. Take an evening walk into the local National Park to view our dark skies, away from light pollution our carefully selected stargazing spots offer the magic of sky filled with constellations, shooting stars and the tranquil beauty of the National Park under darkness.

Available October through to early April. Private tours available for 1-4 people or more (on request as some dates not suitable due to the moon). Talk with run in all conditions.

Taking the time to look up is precious; to feel stillness, smallness and peace. Make 2024 the year you experience our dark skies, explore our website to plan your dark skies experience and let the Cairngorms be the start of your Dark Skies discovery. 

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