Discover the best festivals in the Lake District

By Mark Campbell

There are a growing number of festivals in Cumbria and the Lake District celebrating everything from music to comedy, print, ceramics and wool. And many of them happen outdoors to take advantage of the stunning theatre in the surrounding landscape. We’ve handpicked some of our favourites.

Kendal Calling

One of largest music festivals in Cumbria and the Lake District is Kendal Calling, held each July, months after selling out. Confusingly, it began life in Kendal but since 2009 has been held at Lowther Deer Park, near Penrith. Featuring an impressive line-up from across the genres, from big names to local heroes, Kendal Calling also attracts some major names in comedy.

Keswick Mountain Festival

There are few more stunning festival locations than the shores of Derwentwater for the Keswick Mountain Festival. The ultimate outdoors weekend features speakers and displays from top outdoors sportspeople, rounded off with two evenings of live music from major name acts, held each June. It’s one of the region’s most anticipated festivals.

Keswick Mountain Festival in Cumbria

Adults and kids alike will love Keswick Mountain Festival

Ireby Festival

Ireby Festival tends to sell out early, a popular but intimate village-based event where the main stage venue is restricted to just 650 people. There is a wide range of music but tends to focus on folk and traditional genres.

The Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival

The Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival is held over four days in May and celebrates the best in New Orleans, swing, classic, traditional and mainstream, while a festival of growing reputation is Bowness Bay Blues in March, packing out several venues across the town.

Keswick Jazz Festival in Cumbria

If you love jazz, then Keswick Jazz Festival is the festival for you!

Lake District Summer Music International Festival

For fans of classical music, the Lake District Summer Music International Festival takes place across a number of venues in a number of towns. There are more than 40 events with opportunity given to young musicians to give festival debut concerts.

C-Art Festival

C-Art Festival is an award-winning celebration of Cumbria’s contemporary arts. The 10-day festival brings the public to the artist with many open studios welcoming visitors. As well as connecting tens of thousands of visitors to Cumbrian artists, C-Art has also seen hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by the public in the process to support the local industry.

Words by the Water

There are many more cultural festivals in the Lake District and Cumbria. Words by the Water attracts more than 100 authors, poets and speakers, and in turn thousands of book lovers, to Theatre by the Lake in Keswick over nine days in March.

Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick

Perfect Nonsense performance at Theatre by the Lake

Keswick Film Festival

Literary festivals are a given in a county with such rich heritage of famous writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin, Ransome, Wainwright and Potter. Keswick Film Festival is hosted by the town’s Alhambra Cinema, as well as Theatre by the Lake and Rheged’s huge screen, with an extensive, lovingly-selected list of films from around the world every February.


For something a bit different, and very Cumbrian, head to Woolfest at Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth in June. Woolfest was created to showcase the best of wool and wool crafts.

Take a look at Keswick Mountain Festival

Read more

Top 10 reasons to visit Cumbria and the Lake District 

Writers, poets and painters inspired by the Lake District 

Discover the best live music, bars and nightclubs in Cumbria

Share this...
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter

Image credits: ©Keswick Tourism Association; Robert Day/Theatre by the Lake; Video: YouTube/Blacks Outdoors

Related features