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

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 28–30 October 2021, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

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

Literature 15–17 October 2021, from £14.00

Lakes International Comic Art Festival

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

Activity 1 October 2021 9:30 am, from £75

Needle felting Herdwicks with Quirky Workshops

Join Quirky Workshops for a full day of felting, after which you’ll be able to take your new adorable Herdwick doorstop home.

Kendal Mountain Festival
Cinema 18–21 November 2021, FREE

Kendal Mountain Festival

The four-day Kendal Mountain Festival is always packed with exciting activities for everyone from children to pensioners. Happening virtually in 2021, this year’s event is no less of an outdoors extravaganza.

David Nash, Running Table, Grizedale, 2021
Exhibitions Until 12 December 2021, FREE

David Nash: Return to the Forest at Grizedale Sculpture in Cumbria

Return to the Forest captures a seminal moment in the development of one of Britain’s most important contemporary sculptors.

Cumbria District Guides

Allan Bank, Grasmere, image courtesy of Visit Cumbria

South Lakes, Cumbria

No trip to Cumbria is complete without a visit to the South Lakes, Coniston and Grizedale among them. Here’s our guide.

Things to do in Penrith

Things to do in Penrith and the Surrounding Area

With the picturesque Lake District to the west and the sweeping ridge of the Pennines to the east, Penrith is a stunning cultural destination.

Kendal and Sedbergh, Cumbria

Packed with fantastic places to visit and a wide range of high-quality restaurants, bars and pubs, there’s loads to do in Kendal and Sedbergh.

Eden Valley, Cumbria

Our guide to the best things to do in the beautiful Eden Valley in Cumbria, which stretches from Sedbergh to Penrith.

Cockermouth and West Cumbria

Our guide to West Cumbria, with its independent, industrial streak, and Wordsworth’s birthplace, Cockermouth.

Carlisle and Keswick, Cumbria

Our guide to things to do in Carlisle, a city framed by its famous castle, and the ‘honeypot’ town of Keswick in Cumbria.