Move over Glastonbury…


Festival season in Keswick is here! There are so many things to do over the next few weeks that it’s going to take some organisation to make sure we make the most of it.

The first, and my favourite, is the 18h annual Keswick Jazz Festival from Wednesday 6th – Sunday 10th May. Hosted by the Theatre by the Lake, the festival has 100 – yes, 100 – different events, and includes jazz classics, New Orleans-style, 1920’s authentics, jive and swing.

Next comes the Keswick Mountain Festival from Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th May. This massive event comprises 47 guided walks, 11 special skills sessions, 19 climbing and scrambling days, 11 mountain biking trips, 18 canoeing sessions, 16 family adventures, a brace of sporting events and a programme of talks at the Theatre by the Lake (phew!). The activities are mostly hosted by local experts, with contributions from the National Trust and very special days from the Calvert Trust. The speakers include Sir Chris Bonington, James Cracknell, the olympic athlete, Leo Houlding, the extreme sportsman and Rosie Swale-Pope, the fifty-something who completed a world circuit on foot.

Val (in the office) fancies ‘Archaeology with Altitude’, a tough National Trust-led walk in the Newlands Valley, but I’m up for ‘Climbing for Kids’ with Keswick Adventures. The talks are all great, but Rob’s priority will be Mike Stroud, the guy who knows everything about survival in extreme conditions. There are loads of freebies to be had, too, so the sooner the tickets are booked the better.

The third event is the massively popular Keswick Beer Festival on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th June. Oh, my, is this a beer festival?!? Last year’s epic offered 238 beers, all special in their own way, with three bands on each night. The bad news is that it’s now so famous that the Saturday night tickets sold within three weeks of their release last December, but if you hurry, you might snatch some of the remaining tickets for the Friday night. The rules say you can’t buy tickets on the night, but it’s all rather immaterial, as they will be well and truly sold out by then. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

If all this activity strains the brain, I heartily recommend a gentle woodland stroll around Derwentwater, or down in Borrowdale. May’s the month for gorgeous carpets of bluebells and spiky white wild garlic flowers. Watch out for wood anemones, pinkish-white flowers which close in the shade and open in the sun, and, of course, the native red squirrels who are now up and about after hibernation. Add to that the little black Herdwick lambs, and it’s all just too fabulous to describe – Bruno (my two year old) calls them Lamborghinis!

Take a look at our cottages in Keswick.