Entries are already coming in fast for the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival photography competition…and there are still eight days to go (after today, Thursday November 15th).

The best entries will be exhibited at An Lanntair throughout the new festival in February 2019 – and the photographers can win free festival tickets

An Lanntair is inviting photographers from across the Hebrides to submit an image on the theme of ‘dark skies’ – but it does not have to be a photograph of the sky as long as it can be related to the theme, so there could be wildlife or dusk and twilight images, for instance.

The winning image will be used in promotional material for the new Hebridean Dark Skies Festival at An Lanntair and across Lewis from 8-21 February 2019.

The winning photographer will also receive a unique, VIP festival pass granting them free entry to every event in the programme.

The ten best photographs will be displayed at An Lanntair throughout the festival in February 2019.

All ten photographers shortlisted will also be invited to be a VIP at the festival opening reception on Friday 8 February, including a free ticket to the opening gala, the extraordinary German silent film Wunder der Schöpfung featuring a live score performed by Herschel 36 and an introduction by John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

Anyone wishing to enter should send a maximum of two photos by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before the competition deadline of Friday 23 November. Images attached to emails should be no more than 6mb.

Organisers say: “Please note that in order to ensure there is a manageable number of submissions, competition entrants must be either from – or currently resident in – the Hebrides.”

And the festival is not just in Stornoway…or indoors!  For instance, Gallan Head Community Trust will host two events in Uig.  On Monday 11 February, you can enjoy a fascinating insight into the night skies with John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland. And on Monday 18 February there is an evening with Glasgow artist Natalie Marr, who is carrying out PHD research into how sensory experiences of darkness can cultivate a greater sense of global interrelatedness, responsibility, and care.  Meet at the Edge Cafe, Gallan Head for – weather permitting – an outdoor adventure on the clifftops by the light of a bonfire (and hopefully the stars). Both events are limited capacity due to venue size and limited parking, so book early and bring warm, weather-proof clothes and sensible shoes, say organisers.

Other guests at the first ever Hebridean Dark Skies Festival will include The Sky at Night’s Chris Lintott, international science presenters Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, and Scotland’s Astronomer Royal John Brown.

The festival’s arts programme also includes a Hebridean version of acclaimed multi-media project Whatever Gets You Through The Night, with Emma Pollock, Rachel Sermanni and more, a special screening of Hebridean favourite The Rocket Post introduced by its star Shauna Macdonald, and Andy Cannon’s CATS award-winning children’s show Space Ape.

The festival is programmed by An Lanntair (part-financed by Outer Hebrides LEADER funding), in partnership with Stornoway Astronomical Society, Calanais Visitor Centre, Gallan Head Community Trust and Lews Castle College, and with support from Outer Hebrides Tourism and Natural Retreats.

The full Hebridean Dark Skies Festival programme can be found online at www.lanntair.com/darkskies - tickets are on sale now.

Stornoway Astronomical Society was officially formed in September 2010, although it met for some time before this. The SAS now hopes to take advantage of grants available to astronomical organisations from government/private sources to equip the group with binoculars, telescopes, a book library of astronomical/science topics and ultimately raise enough funds to allow us to build an observatory on the island for the use of all residents and society members. More comprehensive plans including a science and technology museum/lecture theatre and public planetarium are also possible future enterprises. www.stornowayastro.org

Gallan Head Community Trust was established in 2014 as a community body serving the community of Aird Uig. The Trust now owns the former RAF base and has been developing numerous projects for the benefit of the community, including a new path to the beach, an art festival (launched in September 2018), and ambitious plans for an observatory. www.gallanhead.org.uk

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Outer Hebrides Leader 2014-2020 programme.