Dark Sky Sanctuary
Ynys Enlli announced as the first dark sky sanctuary in Europe
In 2023 Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) received International Dark Sky Sanctuary certification by the International Dark Skies Association (IDA). This makes Enlli the first site in Europe to achieve this status.
International Dark Sky Sanctuaries are typically situated in a very remote location with few nearby threats to the quality of its dark night skies. With its new designation Enlli meets strict criteria and joins just 16 other sites worldwide.
The location of Enlli and its geographical features make it one of the darkest places in the UK – with the mountain on the island serving as an effective barrier, limiting light from the mainland. The closest major light pollution comes from Dublin, which is over 70 miles (113km) across the Irish Sea.
A four-year programme using the latest technology was undertaken as part of the application to monitor the quality of the night sky on the island, to show that it is sufficiently dark to qualify for the designation. The IDA also required a lighting management plan and photographic evidence for this certification.
Mari Huws is one of the Wardens on Ynys Enlli was part of the certification process. She said: “Living here I am always in awe of the island’s beauty – and the night sky is very much a part of that. Having secured the certification, we look forward to welcoming visitors here over the coming months and years and sharing with them our unique story. We knew we lived in a special place, this new status confirms this, with IDSS putting Enlli firmly on the global stage. In a world that's increasingly being polluted, it's a privilege to be able to work towards protecting something that is pristine for future generations.”
The application received support from Welsh Government, other Dark Sky locations in Wales including the Brecon Beacons National Park and Eryri National Park, Aberdaron Community Council, and Natural Resources Wales as well as project NOS (local dark sky project), local astronomy associations, and Gwynedd Council.
Having secured IDSS status, the Bardsey Island Trust now aims to continue its work to protect the dark skies seen from Ynys Enlli by raising awareness of this unique location in Wales, as well as promoting the importance of the dark skies locally and nationally.
A Welsh langue video created for children, explaining the dark sky status can be viewed here on Youtube.
For enquiries about visiting the island.
To stay overnight see our availability page here.
For day trips: Colin Evans at Bardsey Boat Trips
To support the Bardsey Island Trust, become a member here.
Photos © Steve Porter