Lake District UK: Things to do in Autumn 2018

Of all the Lake District hotels, four star, Rothay Garden has to be one of the best placed for the exciting activities that people want to experience in the high peaks.

Walking and climbing at Helvellyn, Langdale Pikes, Fairfield Horseshoe and Scafell Pike are easily accessible without a car, and other popular routes at Coniston Old Man and Skiddaw are just a short drive away.

Grasmere, where Rothay Garden is based, is the ideal location in the Lake District National Park to explore every famous valley with just a small journey from the hotel.

But, what you may not be aware of is the abundance of art and literature festivals in the region; some of the World’s leading artists and authors will be visiting the region over the coming months.

Here’s a run down of some of the best and brightest cultural calendar highlights through September to November:


Lakes Alive (Saturday 9 – Sunday 10 September) – Various locations from Kendal to Ambleside

Lakes Alive is the biggest annual celebration of art and culture in the region. The festival offers a fantastic free programme of World class contemporary art, spectacular happenings and participation events, brought to you by internationally-renowned artists and inspired by the Lake District.

This is the second year for the festival and promises some of the most interesting and mesmerising art shows in the UK this year.

If you go down to the woods in September you’ll not be greeted by a teddy bear but you might find some giant wooden megaphones.

“Ruup’s” by Birgit Õigus is a new co-collaboration set deep in the woods of the Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Sculpture Park.

Each three-metre megaphone amplifies the sounds of nature in their glorious forest setting and people can sit comfortably inside the wooden structures to take in the audio experience.

Grizedale Forest, east of Coniston Water and south of Hawkshead, was the first forest in the UK to invite artists to show sculptures and installations amongst the trees 50 years ago, breaking new ground in the artworld. It continues this tradition with Ruup’s. Sound it out!

With a nod to the walking heritage of the Lake District, “A mile in my shoes” by Clare Patey features a giant shoebox holding a wide collection of shoes, audio stories exploring our shared humanity and intimate insight into the lives of strangers.

From a Syrian refugee to a neuro surgeon, visitors listen to their stories and walk in their shoes. You are taken on an empathetic and physical journey, experiencing love, loss, grief, hope and joy.

Because you can “Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes”!

British Composer of the Year, Ray Lee’s “Chorus” is a monumental installation. It features a celestial choir of spinning sound machines and giant kinetic sculptures, set in the ancient walls of Kendal Castle. This immersive and enthralling work creates a strange and beautiful world of sound and movement.

With numerous other art installations and showings, Lakes Alive really is the cultural highlight of the year for The Lake District National Park. A must-see show and the artworld equivalent to the Kendal Calling music festival!

Kendal Torchlight Carnival (Friday 15 – Saturday 16 September) – Kendal

Kendal Torchlight Carnival is one of the region’s longest running annual events organised by volunteers. It has lit up and entertained children and adults alike since 1970 with a variety of carnival floats, dancers, bands and other processions. 

The theme for 2018 is “Books and Authors” allowing imaginations to run wild and to take inspiration from literary classics to more modern favourites.
According to the organisers Torchlight has always been: “A gathering for the town, for the surrounding areas, for everyone – people entertaining people, “by the people, for the people”.

Festival of the Fells (Thursday 21 September – Sunday 24 September) – Ambleside 

In the wake of December 2015 Ambleside floods, a group called Ambleside Together was formed to promote the town and now organises the festival each year. 

Festival of the Fells 2018 is its second year, following a very successful inaugural event in September 2016, and will be bigger and better than ever.

Festival of the Fells is a mountain, outdoor-activity and cultural festival, designed to appeal to fell lovers. But there is also plenty of interest for people who love Ambleside and the surrounding region.

Activities at the festival range from guided wild swims, walks, bike rides and scrambling to talks, music, comedy and films. There’s something for everyone, whether you are an outdoor adventurer, indoor bookworm or bit of both!


The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival (Friday 12 – Sunday 14 October) – Kendal

Who’d think that in October, The Lake District would host one of the World’s largest international comic arts festivals, with some of the most celebrated comic artists from across the globe showcasing their best work.

Highlights include 2000AD and Judge Dredd creator, John Wagnar, and acclaimed author, Ian Rankin, talking about their work and characters on Saturday at the Brewery Arts Centre, Main Theatre. 

Comic artist, Bobby Joseph’s character, “Scotland Yardie”, would perhaps be the most unlikely visitor to the Lakes with his beat, the inner city of London fighting “bad bwoy” crime. But Bobby has been before and is looking forward to “hanging out with the top people of Kendal” again.

Expect super heroes, future worlds, fantastical creatures, zombies, crime fighters, politics, satire, documentary, comedy, manga and much more!


Kendal Mountain Festival (Friday 17 – Sunday 19 November) – Kendal

A celebration of the very best in outdoor and adventure sports culture with outdoor enthusiasts athletes, artists, photographers, adventurers, explorers and inspirational speakers gathering every year to share their adventures and stories.

The festival includes the ‘Oscars of outdoor filmmaking’, an International Film Competition, that attracts Worldwide premieres, with an independent jury choosing winners from over 100 films screened and twelve coveted awards up for grabs. 

Other things you can experience at Kendal Mountain Festival include speakers, art exhibitions, book events such as the coveted Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature, drama, wildlife and environmental documentaries.

Whichever event you decide to visit over the coming months, Rothay Garden is a perfect Lake District hotel to use as your base to explore. Whether you’re walking and climbing the highest peaks or rubbing shoulders with artists and authors at the festivals, we’d love to see you soon! 

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