The Lake District has a vibrant, colourful and ever-growing arts and culture scene. Whether you delight in art, enjoy a stage performance, revel in comedy or go to gigs, we have it all in spades with bucketloads of variety. The great and good from the world of theatre, comedy and music are attracted to our stages and to our galleries, superb works of art.
Check the local press; the Westmorland Gazette with its online and print listings features a Leisure Section telling you what’s on and where all across the lakes.
Art House Cinemas
For entertainment on a wet day there are two excellent art-house cinemas in Ambleside; Zeffirelli’s with its own classy pizzeria and Fellini’s with a vegetarian menu. These both offer a diverse programme of off-mainstream films from around the world, as well as the ‘odd’ blockbuster. The restaurants are excellent and should be included in your evening dining plans if you can.
For a bit of culture, happen by the Armitt Museum with its vast collection of pictures, books and jottings from Lake District notables. You can see letters from the likes of Ruskin, the manuscripts of Harriet Martineau and the fabulous art of Kurt Schwitters.
Each year there are two annual events. Ambleside Rushbearing is a traditional event that has taken place in Ambleside for over one hundred years. A procession carrying wooden bearings decorated with flowers and rushes accompany children carrying flowers to the church. Led by Burneside Brass Band the procession stops in the Market Place to sing the hymn written especially for the occasion.
The Ambleside traditional sports are held in July. A great day out, three centuries of Lakeland traditions are crammed into this unique sporting event including Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, fell and guides races, hound trails, cycle and running track events and children's races. Tents offer a public bar (with a live brass band) and a wide choice of outside caterers, as well as craft and local trade stands, and a range of activities.
The Brewery Arts Centre Kendal is one of the leading art centres in the UK. Presenting a programme of exciting, diverse, top quality events and performances, and exhibitions in all art forms. There are two main venues at the site, the Malt Room and Main Theatre along with a cinema complex.
Galleries and museums
The pride of Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry – Kendal is a beautiful Georgian-era building set on the banks of the River Kent. The gallery has a fine permanent collection of historic, modern and contemporary art, and hosts a series of touring exhibitions. Located at the Old Stables is the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, a fascinating walk through time where visits can be coordinated between the two venues.
Arts and Crafts
The incredible Blackwell - The Arts & Craft House was built by architect MH Baillie Scott as a holiday home. Overlooking Windermere, it is considered to be a masterpiece of 20th-century design and a perfect example of the Arts and Crafts Movement between the 1880's and 1920's.
The house and gardens are a joy to tour and you can also admire the craftsmanship of its impressive interior. The landscaped gardens have been lovingly preserved and are a joy to walk around.
A grand day out
The grand buildings, stately homes and ancient monuments are open for visitors to explore with their beautiful grounds and gardens, all perfect for great days out.
There are arts and culture enclaves throughout the Lake District. Visit our Lake District Guide for even more ideas for your holiday itinerary. Please visit our collection to feel inspired.