Guide to Keswick Festivals

Keswick is famed for its many and varied festivals. The town is kept busy all year round with events to entertain every member of the family and even the dog too.

The Film Festival kicks off the year in February, with films shown at two locations in Keswick, the beautiful Art Deco cinema on St John's Street and the modern slate built Theatre by the Lake. Last year's festival branched out to include Rheged's IMAX screen for some amazing mountaineering films. The Alhambra Cinema operated an film club on a Sunday and show alternative films all year round.

Words by the Water is held at Theatre by the Lake and a handful of events are held at Mirehouse on the other side of Bassenthwaite Lake.This exciting literature festival takes place over ten days in March, encouraging writers and readers get together to share the pleasure of books, words and ideas. The programme is jam packed with talks, lectures, discussions, workshops, book launches and special exhibitions.

May is a busy month hosting the world renowned Jazz Festival which sees the town transformed by colourful characters, musicians and musical parades.

Shortly after the Jazz folk leave, the Mountain Festival rolls into town with all things outdoors crammed into a week. The programme is mind boggling with so much choice for each day you won't even know where to start. Try a torch lit ascent of Blencathra, a triathlon or a Wainwright bagging walk with a local guide. Kids and beginners are catered for and there are plenty of taster sessions. The festival has expanded year on year and now includes swimming, canoeing, kayaking, running and biking in addition to the mainstays of walking, climbing and scrambling.

In June the Beer Festival takes place at the rugby club - live music, good beer and a fantastic atmosphere. Look out for the fancy dress competition too! A new addition for June is the Keswick Scruffs Dog Show.

Street Theater takes place through the town during June and July including performances of comedy, poetry, music and magic. Some days you might even see a tight rope walker!

The biggest and oldest event in Keswick is the Christian Convention which takes place over three weeks in July and offers something for everyone no matter what your religious leaning. The discussions, prayer meetings and concerts are very popular, with important church leaders giving lectures over the three week period.

Lakeland Trail events are becoming bigger and more popular each year. This is now a mini festival taking place over a September weekend with trail races and swims on offer.

When the Christmas lights are switched on in November does not technically qualify as a festival but it is looking more that way each year. A tree of lights is lit by the War Memorial and then a procession walks into the Market Square for the main lights to be switched on. Over the years Keswick has had some very auspicious figures turning the lights on including, Pudsey Bear, Julia Bradbury and Prince Charles! A food fair is held on the day of the light switch on and has proved very popular in recent years. Starting around lunch time, the Market Square is filled with the wonderful smells of hog roasts, Cumbrian curry and wonderful artisan bread. 

The traditional Christmas Fayre in December is a real highlight for me. Keswick looks so pretty with the Christmas lights up - just blue and white ones which make frosty nights very twinkly and lovely. The stall holders dress up in a Victorian style and a group of local hoteilers and b&b owners run their own stall selling potent mulled wine and mince pies of varying shapes and sizes.