Things to Do in Cumbria

Creative Tourist

Think of Cumbria and what springs to mind? A rural retreat complete with hearty hikes and snug pubs? If these are the images scudding across your mind’s eye, you’d not be wrong. Yet there are more things to do in Cumbria than its outdoor image might suggest. Tourism actually began here back in the 1700s, when clergyman Thomas West published a Guide to the Lakes. It banished forever the idea that Cumbria was wild and inhospitable. It’s thanks to West that when we think of the Lake District, we think of a chocolate-box landscape. Yet the ideal of the ‘picturesque’ is both a blessing and a curse: good for tourism, yet occasionally overshadowing the contemporary art that is made, performed and shown here year-round.

Cumbria is full of artists, from those taking part in the C-Art fest to those exhibiting at Blackwell and Abbot Hall; for them, the landscape’s ability to turn in a moment from benign beauty to lowering skies continues to inspire. It is this that has piqued our interest – and will, we hope, keep yours.

Discover our top picks

Ruskin, Turner and The Storm Cloud at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Cumbria
Exhibitions 12 July–5 October 2019, from £7

Ruskin, Turner and The Storm Cloud at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

This summer, Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Cumbria marks the 200-year-anniversary of the great Victorian art critic and watercolourist, John Ruskin’s birth, with an exhibition dedicated to the turbulent skies above.

Exhibitions 18 May–28 September 2019, from £5

Child Labour: Hidden Stories of Cumbria at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry

Providing a rare insight into the history of child labour in Cumbria, this eye-opening exhibition at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry is not to be missed.

Literature 11–13 October 2019, from £14.00

Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019 at Brewery Arts Centre

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is back in the Cumbrian town of Kendal for a seventh year, bigger and better than ever, and with plenty of storytelling treats in both words and pictures.

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 26 October 2019, 12:00 pm–11:30 pm, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

An incredible wonderland of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

Things to do in the Lakes this Summer
Exhibitions 15 February–15 October 2019, FREE

Things to do in the Lakes this Summer

Not only one of Britain’s most picturesque national parks, the Lake District is also brimming with culture. Here’s what not miss this summer.

Cumbria District Guides

Allan Bank, Grasmere, image courtesy of Visit Cumbria

South Lakes, Cumbria

No trip to Cumbria is complete without a visit to its best-loved places, Coniston and…

Penrith, Cumbria

Located in the Lake District’s Eden Valley, the market town of Penrith is a jumping-off…

Kendal and Sedbergh, Cumbria

The South Lakes are where it’s at for most visitors, and usually has the tailbacks…

Eden Valley, Cumbria

Sustainability is a theme that resonates throughout the Eden Valley, which stretches from Sedbergh to…

Cockermouth and West Cumbria

Once known for its industry, West Cumbria has an independent, industrial streak that sets it…

Carlisle and Keswick, Cumbria

Carlisle is a city framed by its famous castle and still showing the battle scars…

Things to do right now

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Things to do in the Lakes this Summer
Exhibitions 15 February–15 October 2019, FREE

Things to do in the Lakes this Summer

Experience The Magic of Trees at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens
Families 5 March 2019–1 March 2020, Normal admission charges apply/free to National Trust members

Autumn at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens

Activity 11 September 2019–28 February 2020, from £5

Meditation at the Manchester Buddhist Centre