Dark Skies Festival 2021

December is the darkest month of the year, and towns along Lake Superior’s North Shore have some of the clearest night skies in the world. To celebrate the wintertime darkness, Visit Cook County presents The Dark Sky Festival. An annual event celebrating the stars, the moon, Northern Lights, and the area’s dark skies.

Cook County, home to the towns of Grand Marais, Lutsen, Schroeder, Tofte, Hovland, and Grand Portage, has one of the darkest skies in the entire world! Thanks to the absence of large cities and light pollution from our small northern county, visitors can enjoy clear views of the skies most nights. The Boundary Water’s Canoe Area Wilderness is one of only 15 certified Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the entire world! We celebrate this designation and area beauty with the Dark Sky Festival.

Dark Sky Festival Events

Northern LightsMost Dark Sky Festival events take place in Grand Marais and along the Gunflint Trail. Surrounded by the BWCA, the Gunflint Trail is a popular destination for those hunting the Northern Lights. Star watchers also love the area for the clear night skies.

Events include:

  • Dark Skies Dinner at Gunflint Lodge on the Gunflint Trail.
  • Celestial Legends Guided Night Hike at Gunflint Lodge.
  • Winter Constellation Stories at Studio 21 in Grand Marais.
  • Turn Out the Lights where Grand Marais will go dark for a few minutes to enjoy the Night’s sky in town.
  • Star Party with staff and students of UMD’s Marshall W Alworth Planetarium at Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais.
  • Night Sky Walk at the Grand Marais municipal campground.

This is just a sample of the events taking place. For the full list of events, as well as dates and times, please head to Visit Cook County.

While many of the activities are free, some do require a ticket to participate. Plan ahead to get the most out of this unique event.