Lake District Arts and Culture Events Calendar 2019-2020

RUUP by Birgit Õigus in Grizedale Forest (photograph by Amelia Harvey)

Our list of some of the best-looking arts and cultural events in Cumbria this year. This is what we have pencilled in the diaries so far, check back for updates and keep up-to-date with what’s happening for Outdoor Art & Adventure, Museums & Galleries, Festivals & Performance and Family Fun whatever the weather.

Here are our picks

Diaries at the ready for outstanding arts and culture in the beautiful Lake District. With its vibrant literary legacy and the UK’s first forest for sculpture, this celebrated cultural landscape provides an abundance of inspiration and exploration throughout the year. From celebrations of classic literature and classical music to international comic art creativity and world-class contemporary art – there’s Lakes Culture for everyone.

Discover an impressive line-up of unmissable art, theatre and festivals

ABBOT HALL ART GALLERY // 18 Oct – 1 Feb 2020

COLOUR AND LIGHT: The Art and Influence of the Scottish Colourists. An exhibition centred on masterpieces from the renowned Fleming Collection, the finest collection of Scottish art outside public museums and institutions this exhibition explores not only the ground-breaking artistic achievements of the Scottish Colourists, but for the first time we are also addressing their influence on subsequent generations of Scottish artists and lasting impact on modern British art.

Christmas/New Year Closures: Abbot Hall will be closed over the Christmas/New Year period from Sun 22 Dec through to Wed 1 Jan 2020. Will reopen on Sun 2 Jan 2020

BLACKWELL ARTS & CRAFTS HOUSE // 19 Nov 2019 – Apr 2020

ONCE UPON A WOODLAND (19 Nov – 5 Jan 2020) a striking paper installation designed by artist Hannah Fox delivers a festive treat for visitors this Winter. Walk into a magical woodland in Blackwell’s Main Hall.

THE ARTS & CRAFTS OF POLITICS (24 Jan – 19 April 2020)
Exhibition exploring the political lives, activism and designs of Walter Crane and William Morris. The exhibition will integrate the work made by community partners in the exhibition and around Blackwell, with activity spaces created for visitors to participate in their own form of political activism inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Blackwell House will be closed from Mon 6 to Thu 23 Jan 2020

BRANTWOOD // 14 Nov 2019 – 12 Jan 2020

‘Above and Below’ features Phil Enwhistle’s dramatic oil paintings of the slate quarries that Coniston is famed for, alongside an intriguing series of topographical drawings. Inspired by Ruskin’s belief that art should help us to see more clearly, the exhibition questions our perceptions of the landscape, and reflects on our relationship with it.

BREWERY ARTS CENTRE // 29 Nov – 24 Dec

CHRISTMAS CRAFT MARKET takes over the Malt Room and Warehouse from (Fri 29 Nov to Sun 1 Dec), featuring stalls from some of Cumbria’s finest artists and makers. World premiere of OUTSIDE THE IGLOO The Knotted Project and Hawk Dance’s interactive icy adventure to life for children 4+ and their families from (Wed 4 until Sat 7 Dec). Cabaret trio SHOOSHOOBABY bring smooth harmonies, flamboyant costumes and stunning vocals to a wonderful array of seasonal songs from the 1920s. CHRISTMAS TALES WITH GRANDDAD by Pickled Image Theatre from (Fri 20 Sat 28 Dec), is the perfect family treat of stories by the fireside, tales include a special pair of Christmas pants and the mystery of a snowflake necklace. Get your ballet fix watching a screening of The Royal Opera House production of THE NUTCRACKER (Tue 17 Dec) and the James Stewart classic IT’S A WONDEFUL LIFE on Christmas Eve (Wed 24 Dec). Gather for the traditional CHRISTMAS EVE CAROL CONCERT (Tue 24 Dec).

There’s music a plenty too; SETH LAKEMAN (Wed 4 Dec), SHOWADDYWADDY (Sat 7 Dec), BIG COUNTRY (Thu 12 Dec), FLEETWOOD BAC (Fri 13 Dec).

BROCKHOLE // 3 Nov 2019 – 5 Jan 2020

SHAP SHAPE (3 Nov 2019 – 5 Jan 2020) is a new touring exhibition by Printmaker Jamie Barnes, Photographer Colin Reynolds, and Poet Geoff Cox. The show seeks to explore and depict the man-made structures on and around Shap Summit. Everything from stone circles to lime kilns and even cement factories.

Festive art and craft workshops. Brockhole is running a host of different activities , from making your own decorations to lino cut cards. Check out the website for full details.


LGBT+: WITHIN AND BEYOND is a project examining Cumbria’s LGBT+ history and voices by bringing out existing stories and inviting new and diverse perspectives.

Christmas/New Year Closures: The Museum of Lakeland Life will be closed over the Christmas/New Year period from Sun 22 Dec through to Wed 1 Jan 2020. Will reopen on Sun 2 Jan 2020.

THEATRE BY THE LAKE // 22 Nov 2019 – 11 Jan 2020

One of the best-loved stories ever written in Dickens’ tale of redemption and compassion; a tonic to warm the cockles of your heart this winter A CHRISTMAS CAROL (22 Nov 2019 – 11 Jan 2020) Suitable for ages 6+, for families with young children THE LEGEND OF THE JAZZ PENGUIN 10- 29 Dec) is the tale of how penguin found the Jazz, with original music, brilliant puppetry and lots of fun interaction that will have children jumping for joy. Suitable for ages 2+

UP FRONT GALLERY // 5 Nov 2019  – 12 Jan 2020

KALEIDOSCOPE is an exhibition featuring work by Green Door artists celebrating their diversity and originality. The title offers artists the freedom to approach their subjects using a wide variety of media and styles, and provides motivation and stimulus.



SANTA’S BOAT BUILDING WORKSHOPS (30 Nov & 1 Dec, 7, 8, 14 & 15 Dec – see website for times) Join other young recruits to help build and decorate toy boats at the Old Windermere Fire Station. Children will see traditional boat making skills in action before making mini versions themselves. Book online on the Windermere Jetty website.

NATURE’S WINTER is an exciting and immersive installation exploring nature and weather through a sensory experience of light, sound and story. Perfect for families.

Windermere Jetty’s Museum will be closed from Mon 6 to Sat 25 Jan 2020.

RUUP by Birgit Õigus, Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Sat Nav Postcode: LA22 0QJ

Throughout 2019

RUUP by Birgit Õigus in Grizedale Forest (photograph by Amelia Harvey)

To celebrate Grizedale Forest’s 50th Anniversary of arts and creativity in the forest, the Forestry Commission and Lakes Alive Festival co-commissioned RUUP by Estonian artist Birgit Õigus. Located on the Carron Crag Trail, one of 8 walking trails, in this impressively scenic woodland landscape, RUUP is derived from the Estonian word Ruupor which translates as megaphone. The sculptures respond to the Lake District location creating structures intended to encourage people to pause and listen to the sounds of the forest, to act as shelters for walkers and also become mini stages for live performances.

Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park – a UNESCO world heritage site – Grizedale Forest was the first place in the UK to develop art in the landscape and is ‘the UK’s first forest for sculpture’. You can enjoy RUUP and over 50 other artworks in the almost 25 km² of woodland throughout the year at Grizedale Forest.

RUUP by Birgit Õigus in Grizedale Forest (photograph by Amelia Harvey)


COMING OUT is a ground-breaking new photography display from recent University of Cumbria MA graduate, Faye Hughes. 50 sensitive portraits revealing the warmth and humanity of individuals from Cumbria in the LGBTQI+ community and their allies, alongside moving ‘coming out’ stories; stories that demonstrate the everyday concerns and pride in one’s identify, and the need for support within the community. The portraits were commissioned by PiNC (Pride in North Cumbria) to commemorate the 50 years since the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City, which was for many the start of the worldwide Pride movement.

CULTURES COLLIDE  (until Sun 26 Jan 2020) explores links between Tullie House’s Japanese and Cumbrian collections, Prism Arts Studio Arts have reimagined the George Howard gallery in Old Tullie House creating a collaborative exhibition whilst some of Tullie House’s Pre-Raphaelites are on tour in Japan.  This exhibition displays collections originating from both countries side by side, investigating landscape, industry, tokonama, home life and even some cats. The display includes works by Sheila Fell, Utagawa Hiroshige, Thomas Bushby, Katsushika Hokusai and Percy Kelly. Some have never, or infrequently, been exhibited at Tullie House. Standard admission charges apply.

Check out our festive food and Christmas dining top picks to indulge yourself whilst enjoying beautiful views of the Lake District.

Check back for updates and keep up-to-date with what’s happening for Outdoor Art & Adventure, Museums & Galleries, Festivals & Performance and Family Fun whatever the weather.