Tales of the unexpected: five things to do in Cumbria this summer

Susie Stubbs
Things to do in Cumbria, Wordsworth, Picnic Cinema

Head to the Lake District for more than just rugged, rural charm; here are five of our favourite cultural Cumbrian things.

First up is Picnic Cinema, a travelling, pop-up cinematic experience that brings cult films to unusual locations, throws in overnight camping and live music – and quite often sells out well in advance. Its raucous screening of Withnail & I at one of the locations used for filming (the house that appears as Uncle Monty’s cottage in the film) is a blast, although Danny Boyle’s horror pic, 28 Days Later, shown in the middle of the deep, dark forest (AKA Grizedale Forest) on 10 August, looks scarily good too.

Grizedale Forest is also the location of art of a less frightening kind. The “UK’s first forest for sculpture” (it has been a sculpture park since 1977) is a sprawling wood that happens to be home to around fifty, site-specific artworks by international greats such as greyworld, Keith Wilson and Robert Bryce Muir. It’s also home to Wind Thrust by artist Jony Easterby; that particular artist’s work also features in this summer’s Audible Forces, part of the Wray Castle Weekender. Audible Forces, a sound art installation on the shores of Lake Windermere, brings together a clutch of artists who have created kinetic and Aeolian (wind-powered) musical instruments. The end result promises to be both visually and aurally beautiful, while the setting is similarly so: the landscaped gardens and grounds Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre. Its café (with lakeside terrace) and adventure playground are particularly worth a look.

Finally, no visit to the Lakes is complete without paying due homage to William Wordsworth; there’s no better place to do that than at Dove Cottage  in Grasmere. The poet’s former home is now a museum. One of its more unusual exhibits is, in a strange, serendipitous twist, an Aeolian harp – which apparently inspired Coleridge to pen two poems about it.

Culture Guides

Theatre in Manchester and the North


Queer Contact Festival, stunning physical theatre and intimate in-the-round performance top our eclectic list of drama, comedy and dance this month.

Classical Music

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Start 2023 as you mean to go on, with the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.


Black and white classics and a Tarantino-scripted pop-thriller are amongst our Valentine’s themed picks for February.


The world of art and exhibitions never quite stops, so we have lots of new shows to look forward to at the start of 2023.

Cardboard Carnival at The Edge


New year, new start, and what better way to welcome in 2023 than by planning and experiencing all sorts of exciting family events in Manchester and the North?

Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie


Live literature land welcomes in 2023 with lots lined up in Manchester and beyond, from book launches and bookshop openings to prize-winning poets and award-laden authors sharing their secrets and stories.


More brilliant gigs appear on the horizon as we inch further into 2023.

Tours and Activities

New years are for new experiences, and we have a whole lot of ideas to inspire you as 2023 gets underway.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 3 February 2023, from £30.00

Baumka Conscious Clubbing at Victoria Warehouse

Activity Until 8 February 2023, from £170.00

Drawing course with Nina Hunter

Music Until 16 February 2023, from £9.50

Donna Candy at SOUP

vegan super club
Activity Until 17 February 2023, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Exhibitions Until 18 February 2023, FREE

The Confessional at HOME

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside
Families Until 19 February 2023, from £14.00

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside CANCELLED

Activity Until 23 February 2023, from £59.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts
Families Until 26 February 2023, from £3.00

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts