Things to do in Lancaster

Polly Checkland Harding

Lancaster is one of only 13 places in England with Heritage City status – the site of the Pendle witch trials, home to a port on the River Lune that was once one of the busiest in Britain and to a theatre that dates back to the reign of King George III. The city’s streets are a mix of buildings rich with history and cultural ambition: trip to discover the gripping events that once took place inside Lancaster Castle’s ancient walls wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Dukes for cinema and live performance, or to Williamson Park in the summer for open-air theatre with spectacular views.

This is a city that wears its history well: here, a coffee company dating back to 1837 is now a thriving shop and roastery, while Light Up Lancaster, a brilliant festival of light and art, illuminates heritage buildings and public spaces throughout the city each year. The Grade II listed Grand Theatre, meanwhile, is one of the oldest working theatres in England, opened in 1782 during the reign of King George III.

Home to Ludus Dance and touring theatre company, imitating the dog, Lancaster has long nurtured a vibrant community of artists and creatives. You’ll find cutting-edge contemporary organisations, such as Lancaster Arts (based at the University), and jazz, literature and music festivals happening throughout the year – it’s also worth noting that Lancaster and the seaside town of Morecambe are well connected by a nine-minute train ride, so why not make a double-header of your visit.

Our top picks

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster Castle, Castle Parade, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1YJ - Visit now

Lancaster Castle’s origins date back almost 1,000 years. This Grade 1 Listed Building occupies a city-centre hilltop location on the site of three successive Roman forts.

Lancaster Castle Lancashire
Lancaster Castle - Gidzy

The Dukes

The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1QE - Visit now

Lancashire’s only producing theatre hosts exciting seasons of work featuring new writing and the classics in a converted church in central Lancaster.

The Dukes, Lancaster

The Grand Theatre, Lancaster

The Grand Theatre, Lancaster, St Leonardgate, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1NL - Visit now

First opened in 1782, the theatre is now host to amateur drama, music and dance and professional touring companies. You can take in the history of the area with a tour of the building too.

The Grand Theatre in Lancaster
Lancaster Grand

Carnforth Station

Carnforth Station, The Heritage Centre, Warton Road, LA5 9TR - Visit now

Carnforth Station is no ordinary railway station. The pivotal setting for much of film director David Lean’s iconic Brief Encounter, the station has embraced its place in cinema history to become a tourist attraction unlike any other. Stand on Platform 1 with its vintage suitcases and railway posters and you can cast yourself back to 1945.

Visit Lancashire, Carnforth Station Heritage Centre

Port of Lancaster Smokehouse

Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, West Quay, Glasson Dock, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA2 0DB - Visit now

The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse at Glasson Dock is the proud winner of numerous Great Taste Awards for its beautifully smoked fish, meat and cheese products.

The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse eatery
Courtesy of The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse

More Lancashire events

Where to go in Lancashire

Winckley Square
Winckley Square

Hosting a variety of year-round events, from guided walks to jazz evenings, Winckley Square is a Georgian square packed with history in Preston city centre.


With an array of independent shops and places to eat and drink, including a number of contemporary pubs and bars, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Avenham and Miller Parks
Avenham and Miller Parks

Located in the heart of Preston, Avenham and Miller Parks are among the finest examples of traditional Victorian parkland in the North West.

Music venue
The Exchange, Blackburn

Dating back to 1865 when it opened as one of four exchange halls in the country, The Exchange is an iconic Blackburn venue

Music venue
The Platform

Music, comedy, dance, drama and children’s shows in an Edwardian railway station, opposite The Midland Hotel.

The Crescent Gallery

Morecambe gallery which showcases and sells contemporary works, often by artists from the area, which are varied and beautiful.

Edgelands Gallery

Edgelands Gallery in Morecambe is a beautiful studio and gallery, regularly displaying high quality artwork.

The White Swan
at Fence

The White Swan at Fence is a gastro-pub with much to brag about. Delicious drinks and fantastic food has got this pub a Michelin Star.

Bootleg Social

The live-music venue and bar is a hidden gem, standing out against the technicolour nightlife of Blackpool with its own understated edge.

Lancashire Visitor Guides

Records and Relics frontage
Shopping in Lancashire

Our guide to the best shops in Lancashire, including independents and markets in Blackpool, Lancaster, Morecambe, Burnley and Blackburn.

Food and Drink in Lancashire

Our guide to food and drink in Lancashire, featuring restaurants and bars in Lancaster, Morecambe, Blackburn, Burnley and Blackpool.

Castle View
Hotels in Lancashire

Our guide to the best hotels in Lancashire, including Lancaster, Morecambe, Blackburn, Burnley and Blackpool.

Walks in Blackpool
Walks in Blackpool

A round-up of the best walks in Blackpool, including the sights of the promenade and nearby country walks.

Walks in Blackburn & Burnley
Walks in Blackburn & Burnley

An inspired array of walks and cultural spaces to hike, saunter or work your way through, featuring wild landscape and stately halls alike.

Spotlight on

May Bank Holiday 2024: Things to Do

Plan your May Bank Holiday weekend with our top picks from music, art, theatre, food and drink spots, whatever the weather.

Take me there

Culture Guides

Festival-goers at Green Island
Music in Manchester and the North

Gazing longingly towards the good times that will accompany the surely imminent sun, we take a look at the best music festivals coming up in Manchester and Salford.