International Dark Sky Week returns April 2-8, 2024 and is once again aimed at raising awareness about the negative impacts of light pollution, the solutions that exist while simultaneously celebrating the night. 

In 2023, the Cook County Board of Commissioners and The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Council made official proclamations for International Dark Sky Week. In celebration of these acknowledgments, here are some ways you can discover the night in the tip of Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region.


Plan a Trip to Our Dark Sky Sanctuary

The International Dark-Sky Association named the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness the largest International Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world in 2020. One of now 17 around the world, a Dark Sky Sanctuary is the highest of the IDA’s Dark Sky Places certifications. It is a public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment. You can experience the Boundary Waters in many ways at all times of the year. Start your journey here.


Check out Chik-Wauk’s AllSky Camera

Located at Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center near the end of the Gunflint Trail, the AllSky Camera is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium and Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and Chik-Wauk. It is mounted on the roof of the museum and captures images of auroral and milky way activity each night that are compiled into a timelapse video. Follow the AllSky Camera Facebook Page to catch each day’s video.


Paint the Night

Engage with your creative side and Paint The Night at Joy & Co in Grand Marais. This weekly art series provides materials and inspiration with a new topic each week. During International Dark Sky Week, the theme is Paint The Night! 


Chase the Northern Lights

After catching a glimpse of the aurora on the AllSky Camera you’ll be ready to see them with your own eyes. We know it’s a bucket list experience for most, so we’ve put together a Northern Lights Driving Route Map that lists some of the best viewing locations in Cook County. We recommend a trip during the winter (spring and fall are also great), or what we call Dark Sky Season, as darker days means more viewing opportunities. Take a look at our Dark Sky Season page for tips on viewing the northern lights and photographing them. 


Take in a U.S. Forest Service Naturalist Program

Every summer, the Superior National Forest hosts naturalist programs throughout each week at resorts, campgrounds and other locations around Cook County. Make your plans to catch programs like “Wolves! A Cry in the Night” or “Dark Skies and Bright Stars.” Check the Visit Cook County events calendar beginning in May for details and location on programs.


Catch the Dark Sky Caravan

Every August, staff and students from the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium make their way up Lake Superior’s North Shore, hosting star parties along the way. Coinciding with the annual Persied meteor shower, this traveling event offers different dark sky programs, telescope viewing and a mobile planetarium. This year the Caravan will make a stop at North House Folk School in Grand Marais on Aug. 10 before the final stop at Chik-Wauk on the Gunflint Trail on Aug. 11-12, so make your plans now.


Attend Cook County’s Dark Sky Festival 

Prepare for a trip to Cook County for our annual Dark Sky Festival where we celebrate our world-class dark sky with presentations, speakers, activities and more. The 2024 festival will be Dec.12-14, 2024. See last year’s schedule here and check back for updates on this year’s schedule and details.


Other Ways to Engage and Celebrate

International Dark Sky Week - Discover the Night