Kielder reaches for the stars


Please find below information about new funding enabling extra events at the award winning Kielder Observatory.

Picture shows: couple star gazing from the turrets at Kielder Observatory. More observatory images available on request.

Thousands more star gazers will have access to the darkest night skies in England thanks to an increased public events programme at a top visitor attraction in Northumberland.

Kielder Observatory will now run three times as many events throughout the year with help from LEADER funding, an initiative that delivers rural development based in local needs.

Northumberland Uplands LEADER has awarded the observatory £50,000 over two years to develop Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS) and enable the organisation to deliver an enhanced programme of events.

Gary Fildes, director of the observatory and chairman of KOAS, said: “This is fantastic news for KOAS and for star gazers everywhere. Since Kielder Observatory opened we’ve had a great response from local visitors and from people travelling from all over the country to witness the spectacular dark skies at Kielder Water & Forest Park.

“As a volunteer group we were very limited in the number of public events we could host. The extra funding means we’ll now be able to put on around 150 events a year giving visitors a much better chance of seeing something amazing.”

Peter Sharpe, Kielder Partnership art and architecture curator, added: “The LEADER funding also means we’ll be able to increase the variety of the events. From out reach programmes where KOAS will go into schools to teach children about the universe to open days where anyone can drop in for free – there will be something for all the family from novice astronomers to enthusiasts.”

Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG) is hosted by Northumberland National Park and uses the LEADER approach to make funding decisions. The funding is being made available through the Rural Development Programme for England (which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union) and is managed by One NorthEast in the North East region.

Anna Charlton from NULAG added: “NULAG is proud to support Kielder Observatory and its extended programme of stargazing events. These events will bring people into the most remote part of the Northumberland Uplands to view and explore the most remote parts of our universe.”

Kielder Observatory is part of an award winning art and architecture programme at Kielder Water & Forest Park that includes over twenty pieces of outdoor public art. Anyone can visit the Observatory at any time and walk around the decking. However, the domes can only be operated by fully qualified members of KOAS during specific events.

For information on upcoming events at Kielder Observatory go to or sign up for e-news alerts at Follow Kielder Water & Forest Park on Facebook -

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. For more information go to

For more information contact Philippa Clark, communications advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538, 07970 897 756 or

Notes to editor:

LEADER is a French acronym and stands for: Liaison Entre Actions de Developpement de l’Economie Rurale which translates to ‘links between actions of rural development’.

The Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun.

Partners are Calvert Trust Kielder, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council, Northumbrian Water plus representation from community groups. Northumberland Wildlife Trust is an associate member.

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