Image courtesy of Visit Britain

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

Festivals 8–17 September 2017, from £3.50

C-Art Festival 2017

Set in the picturesque Lake District town of Penrith, it’s hard to imagine a more lovely location for a festival – and the programme is pretty clever, too.

Childrens 16–17 September 2017, from £5.50

Beastie at Rheged Centre

Beastie reminds that we should not fear outsiders, but should instead see them as friends we haven’t met yet.

Theatre 8–17 September 2017, from £3.50

Lowthermere at Rheged Discovery Centre

Lowthermere is an otherworldly experience that explores old Lake District myths while creating new ones of its own.

Exhibitions 14 July–7 October 2017, FREE

Painting Pop at Abbot Hall

While many may associate Pop Art with America, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Abbot Hall’s summer exhibition returns us to the very roots of the movement: Britain.

Literature 13–15 October 2017,

Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017 at various venues

Aimed at both fans and creators of comic art, young and old, the weekend-long Lakes International Comic Art Festival is the only one of its kind in the UK, back in the Cumbrian town of Kendal for the fifth year.

Festivals 26–29 July 2018, from £20.00

Kendal Calling Festival 2018

So good that 2017’s edition sold out before the line-up was announced, snap up your tickets for 2018 fast.

Cinema 9–17 September 2017, FREE

The Redux Project at Rheged Centre

A great series that pokes fun at Hollywood myth making, the Redux Project’s next effort is a shot-for-shot remake of Withnail & I.

Families 28 October 2017, FREE

The Winter Droving 2017 in Penrith

A wonderful winter adventure of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

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…