The way to the dark skies of Mayo. Photo: Brian Wilson

Mayo Dark Sky Park included in 'dark spot' summer staycations itinerary

With staycations set to boom in 2021, Mayo Dark Sky Park has been included as part of the world’s first exclusive ‘dark spot’ summer holiday.

Created by The Sexton Single Malt Whiskey in partnership with bespoke travel agency, Travel Matters, the eccentric twist on the classic Irish staycation will see holidaymakers take in three of the darkest locations across Ireland, providing the perfect conditions for moonlit tourism and night-time inspired cocktails.

A statement issued by the agency outlined: "Destination Darkness is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that satisfies the most restless of spirits with an unconventional holiday designed by an unconventional single malt.

"Swapping sandy beaches and summer sun for the most glorious vistas of shooting stars and moonlight in the most beautiful dark sports around Ireland.

"This is a trip created only for the most curious amongst us, because The Sexton knows darkness is where curiosity comes alive and magical things happen.

"Costing from €5,059 for two people, the 7-day tour will see guests toast the beginning of this extraordinary adventure with nocturnal-themed cocktails at DIAS Dunsink Observatory in Dublin before being whisked to Skibbereen in west Cork.

"The trip then stops of at Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve before arriving at Mayo Dark Sky Park where those curious enough to embrace the night-time and all the mystical things that happen in the dark, will be treated to a spectacle beyond their wildest imaginations.

"Arriving in Mayo, guests will spend two nights at Ashford Castle – Ireland’s first and only Forbes Five Star Hotel.

"Nestled between the remote Nephin Mountain Range and the unspoiled Atlantic coastline, the location provides a perfect canvas to showcase some of the darkest, most pristine skies on the planet.

"Activities include a visit to Ballycroy National Park, where holidaymakers will be given a guided night-time tour around “Tóchar Daithi Bán” to the elevated plateau of Cleary’s Hill, providing unrivalled panoramic views of the night sky.

"Aside from glorious vistas of shooting stars and moonlight set against stunning skyscapes, highlights of the tour also include a spot of starlight kayaking and a unique ‘sky guiding’ experience-cum-cocktail masterclass led by an experienced team of astronomers. The trip concludes at DIAS Dunsink Observatory in Dublin."

Karen Simmonds, Founder at Travel Matters, said: “We’ve all spent the last 12 months sitting at home planning our next great adventure; but with limited travel options abroad, 'Destination: Darkness' is a bespoke once-in-a-lifetime holiday that will be the envy of all your friends, providing those Instagram-ready moments which will rival any country that lures you to discovering the untouched and unexplored.”

Georgia MacMillan, Mayo Dark Sky Park Development Officer, said: “Mayo Dark Sky Park offers some of the darkest most pristine night skies in Europe and with several designated viewing points in the Park, is a perfect location for those looking to get in-touch with their ‘dark’ side, providing stargazers an unrivalled experience under the night sky."

To book your spot on this once-in-a-lifetime trip please visit:

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