10 Must-Visit Festivals in the Lake District

The Lake District is not just a picturesque destination known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities. It is also home to a vibrant festival scene that attracts visitors from all over the world. These Lake District festivals offer a unique opportunity to celebrate life, music, arts, and history while immersing oneself in the serene beauty of the Lake District.

From the early spring Keswick Film Festival to the late autumn Penrith Winter Droving, the Lake District offers a diverse collection of festivals that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you are a fan of movies, music, comic books, or religious festivals, you will find something to suit your taste in this stunning region.

In this blog, we will explore ten must-visit festivals in the Lake District. These festivals highlight the rich cultural heritage of the region and provide a platform for artists, musicians, and performers to showcase their talent. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor, these Lake District festivals offer a unique opportunity to connect with the community, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create lasting memories.

So pack your bags, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to experience the magic of the Lake District festivals. Let’s dive into the vibrant world of music, film, arts, and heritage that awaits you in this picturesque region.

1. Keswick Film Festival

The Keswick Film Festival is a must-visit for cinema lovers and offers a unique cinematic journey through global cultures. Held in Keswick, a charming town in the Northern Lake District, this festival showcases a wide range of films from around the world. From thought-provoking documentaries to captivating independent films, the festival offers something for every film enthusiast.

The Keswick Film Festival also features the Osprey Short Film Awards, which recognize the talent of local filmmakers. With screenings taking place in three beautiful theatres, including The Theatre by the Lake, The Alhambra Cinema, and The Rheged Centre, visitors can enjoy a cinematic experience against the backdrop of the stunning Keswick landscape.

 

2. Lakeland Country Fair

The Lakeland Country Fair is a fantastic way to experience Cumbrian traditions and enjoy a day of family fun. Held on the first Saturday in August, this country fair offers a range of activities and competitions that celebrate the local culture and heritage. Here are some highlights of the Lakeland Country Fair:

  • Sheep clippings: Watch skilled sheep shearers demonstrate their craft.
  • Dog shows: See a variety of dog breeds in action and witness obedience and agility competitions.
  • Fell Pony display: Admire the beauty and grace of these native Cumbrian ponies.
  • Wrestling: Experience the adrenaline of traditional Cumbrian wrestling competitions.
  • Horn-blowing competitions: Listen to the haunting sounds of traditional horn-blowing contests.
  • Fell Races: Cheer on the runners as they take on challenging fell races amidst the stunning Cumbrian landscape.
  • Children’s Sports Challenges: Let the little ones participate in fun sports activities and games.

In addition to these activities, visitors can enjoy various demonstrations, including stick-making, chair-caning, lacemaking, fly tying, weaving, and spelting. The Lakeland Country Fair also offers delicious Cumbrian food, a fully licensed bar for adults, and plenty of opportunities for the whole family to have a great time.

 

3. Lake District Summer Music International Festival

The Lake District Summer Music International Festival is a celebration of music that brings together artists from around the world. This festival offers a unique opportunity to experience a diverse range of musical genres and performances. From classical music performed by renowned ensembles to jazz and baroque instruments, the Lake District Summer Music International Festival caters to a wide range of musical tastes.

The festival acts as a platform for both established musicians and up-and-coming artists who have studied under masterclass musicians. It provides a launching pad for these emerging talents to showcase their skills and connect with a global audience.

In addition to the musical performances, the festival also offers opportunities for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lake District. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque surroundings, indulge in delicious food, and participate in family events and walks. The Lake District Summer Music International Festival promises a truly memorable experience for music lovers of all ages.

 

4. Kendal Calling

Kendal Calling is one of the largest music festivals in the Lake District, attracting music lovers from across the country. Held in the beautiful Lowther Deer Park near Penrith, this festival offers an eclectic mix of music, entertainment, and activities for all ages.

With nine different stages showcasing a diverse range of genres, Kendal Calling features performances by renowned artists as well as up-and-coming talent. From alternative rock to electronica, there is something for everyone at this vibrant festival.

In addition to the music, Kendal Calling offers a range of other entertainment options, including comedy acts, workshops, film screenings, and art installations. The festival also provides camping facilities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the full festival experience.

 

5. The Lake District Folk Weekend

The Lake District Folk Weekend is a must-visit for fans of live music and offers a weekend of dancing, drinking, and merrymaking in the picturesque village of Staveley. With live concerts taking place at The Village Hall and The Roundhouse, this festival showcases a range of folk music talents.

Whether you prefer traditional folk or contemporary interpretations, the Lake District Folk Weekend has something for everyone. The festival attracts artists from around the country and promises a lively and entertaining atmosphere.

If you choose to stay for the weekend, you can book a camping spot or find accommodation in one of the cozy inns in Staveley. Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene, enjoy good ale, and participate in fun activities at the Lake District Folk Weekend.

 

6. The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival is a haven for comic creators and enthusiasts, bringing together artists, writers, and fans from around the world. Held in Bowness-On-Windermere in October, this festival celebrates the art of comics through live drawings, interviews, workshops, presentations, and exhibits.

The festival offers a range of activities for all ages, including comic art-themed crazy golf, Little LICAF activities for kids, and exhibits at the Windermere Jetty Museum. Whether you are a die-hard fan or a casual reader, you are sure to find something to spark your interest at this multi-generational event.

The Laundrama features guest signings, the Lake District Boat Club hosts book launches and previews, and the Windermere Jetty Museum provides entertainment for the little ones. The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival is a must-visit for anyone passionate about comics and graphic novels.

 

7. Solfest

Solfest is one of the largest Lake District festivals for music and offers a weekend of world-class music and culinary delights. Taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend, this festival features a diverse lineup of musical artists across multiple stages.

From popular bands to emerging talent, Solfest caters to a wide range of musical tastes. Enjoy performances by renowned artists such as Charlatans, Sugarhill Gang, and Dutty Moonshine Big Band. Alongside the music, visitors can indulge in a variety of food options, including bao buns, artisan pizza, fish ‘n chips, and vegan meals.

Solfest also offers a dedicated Children’s Arena with plenty of activities for kids, as well as a Healing Garden with workshops and events for the whole family. Located in Cumbria, Solfest is easily accessible from major cities like Edinburgh, Lancaster, and Manchester. Experience a weekend of music, food, and family-friendly fun at Solfest.

 

8. Wannasee Festival

The Wannasee Festival is a tribute to the greatest music legends, featuring live musical talent performing songs from the world’s most iconic artists. With festivals held in Penrith, Leeds, and Hertfordshire, this event offers a lineup of tribute acts covering classic songs from the 50s to the present day.

Whether you’re a fan of Bon Jovi, Queen, Meatloaf, or David Bowie, you’ll find the next best thing at Wannasee. The festival offers a mix of live music, family-friendly activities, and delicious food and drinks.

Kids can enjoy rides, attractions, and face painting, while older attendees can indulge in competitive pricing for rides and attractions. Free parking and competitively priced campsites are also available for those who want to make the most of the weekend and soak up the festival atmosphere.

 

9. Penrith Winter Droving

The Penrith Winter Droving is a unique festival that celebrates the history, culture, and spirit of Penrith. Held in late October or early November, this festival transforms the streets of Penrith into a vibrant hub of activity.

Thousands of visitors gather to witness the descent of winter upon the Lake District, with stages and street corners dotted with musicians and traders. The festival features a bustling market showcasing the best of Cumbrian food, drink, arts, and culture.

Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy races, games, and various competitions for the coveted Drover’s Cup. The festival closes with a mesmerizing procession of masqueraders lit by torches and lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere.

The Penrith Winter Droving is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the warmth of the Cumbrian spirit and immerse themselves in a unique festival experience.

 

10. Ambleside Rushbearing

The Ambleside Rushbearing Festival is a historical celebration of community and heritage that takes place on the first Saturday in July. This centuries-old tradition sees Ambleside citizens, from preschoolers to clergy members, gathering rushes and sweet grasses to be placed in St. Mary’s Church.

The festival features a procession through town, accompanied by the Burneside Brass Band. It is followed by a church service, sports activities, and the famous Fell Race. The Rushbearing ceremony dates back to the days when churches had earthen floors, and congregations regularly brought fresh rushes to cover the floors.

Today, the festival is a community event that includes a small church service followed by a meal of gingerbread, sausage rolls, crisps, biscuits, apples, and drinks. The Ambleside Rushbearing Festival offers a glimpse into the rich history and traditions of the Lake District community.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What Are the Best Times of Year to Visit the Lake District for Festivals?

The Lake District hosts festivals throughout the year, offering a range of experiences in different seasons. Some popular festival months include July, August, and October, when the weather is usually pleasant, and the region comes alive with vibrant cultural events.

How Accessible Are the Festival Locations for Visitors?

The festival locations in the Lake District are generally accessible to visitors. The Lake District National Park Authority works to ensure that the venues and facilities are accessible to all. However, it is advisable to check specific festival websites or contact the organisers for any specific accessibility requirements.

Are Pets Allowed at Any of These Festivals?

Pets are typically not allowed at the festivals in the Lake District due to safety and hygiene reasons. However, the Lake District is known for its pet-friendly atmosphere, and there are plenty of other places in the region where you can enjoy outdoor activities with your furry friends.

How Can I Purchase Tickets for These Festivals?

Tickets for the festivals in the Lake District can be purchased through the festival websites or authorised ticketing platforms. Some festivals offer early bird discounts, so it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance. You can add your preferred events to your itinerary basket and proceed with the ticket purchase.

Can I Volunteer at Any of These Festivals?

Yes, many festivals in the Lake District offer volunteer opportunities. It’s a great way to gain experience, meet new people, and contribute to the festival’s success. Check the festival websites or contact the organisers directly to inquire about volunteer positions and application processes.

How Do These Festivals Impact the Local Community?

These festivals play a significant role in supporting the local community by promoting tourism, showcasing local talent, and providing opportunities for local businesses. They contribute to the local economy and cultural heritage, creating a positive impact through increased footfall and community engagement.

What Are the Best Ways to Get Around the Lake District During Festival Season?

The Lake District offers various transportation options to get around during the festival season. Public transportation, including buses and trains, is available to major towns and villages. Taxis and car hire services are also available for more flexibility. Some festivals may provide shuttle services or parking facilities for festival-goers.