Lake District Arts and Culture Events Calendar 2020

Our list of some of the best-looking arts and cultural events in the Lake District, Cumbria. This is what we have pencilled in the diaries so far, check back for updates and what’s happening for Outdoor Art & Adventure, Museums & Galleries, Festivals & Performance and Family Fun whatever the weather. Get ready for outstanding arts and culture in the beautiful Lake District.

Here are our picks

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

WORDSWORTH 250 // various venues

For literature lovers 2020 marks the 250th Anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth. There is a host of talks, workshops, exhibitions and guided walks to experience at Wordsworth House & Gardens, Allan Bank, Rydal Mount and the Wordsworth Trust. The reimagined Dove Cottage will be unveiled to the public to celebrate the great poet’s birthday on the 7 April. For an overview of events take a look at


Aerial (26- 29 March) is a new festival of contemporary music, literature and performance, taking place in and around the Lake District town of Ambleside. A carefully curated collection of individually ticketed and free shows that allow you to plan a weekend escape to the Lakes on your own terms. Find out more in our festivals section.

BLACKWELL ARTS & CRAFTS HOUSE // Bowness-on-Windermere

Learn about the socialist politics beneath the visually engaging decorative movement in The Arts & Crafts of Politics  (24 Jan – 19 April 2020) Inspired by Japanese block prints unearthed in the collection and timed to coincide with 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the big summer show HOUSE OF THE SETTING SUN opens on the 1st May. Get creative at the regular Meet & Make sessions, held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday each month. Bring your latest craft project and have fun sharing your work and thoughts on what matters to you right now. Converse, craft, and create together

BRANTWOOD // Coniston

Master Of Topography: John Ruskin’s Debt To Samuel Prout (until 15 March) is an exhibition of works by Samuel Prout and John Ruskin drawn from the Whitehouse Collection, The Ruskin, Lancaster University. The Making Of The Mountains: John Ruskin And The Geology Of The Hills (18 March – 25 May) Mountains inspired and obsessed Ruskin his entire life. To him they were evidence of the living nature of the earth. Childhood encounters of the Lake District and the Alps created an insatiable appetite to understand the geology and geomorphology of mountains. Water Essays (until 29 March) by Frances Winder reflects the mood and atmosphere of landscape. Ruskins Reverie (4 April – 10 May) paintings by Kate Bentley and then Beyond Lakeland (16 May – 28 June) by Helen Fryer explores the land sandwiched between the Solway and the ‘Back ‘o’ Skiddaw.


For innovative theatre check out Night of the Living Dead ™ – Remix by imitating the dog on the (3-4 March). Expect a unique shot-for-shot stage recreation of George A. Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie for today’s theatre audiences. Don’t miss the UK’s largest festival of Japanese cinema (until 27 March). This year the film festival explores the idea of ‘Happiness’ which has long been a staple theme in Japanese cinema. Emergence Dance (5 March) the postgraduate dance company of Joss Arnott Dance and the University of Salford, returns with a new cohort, two new works and the chance to see a reimagining of one of Arnott’s acclaimed productions.


Exploring materials and the process of making, Made With (21 Mar – 9 May) opens the season at Crosslane Projects in Kendal, an independent contemporary art gallery its programme is thought provoking and exciting.


Earth Photo (until 28 April) is a series of stunning and thought-provoking images of the planet. Grizedale Forest is only one of four locations around the UK to be lucky enough to host the exhibition. Located in Grizedale’s exhibition gallery, at the Visitor Centre, it includes 35 captivating photographs focussing on four key themes – People, Nature, Place and Changing Forests, a brand new category for this year which encourages photographers to explore what a changing forest meant to them.


The region’s most innovative year-round producing house, Theatre by The Lake has a season packed with brilliant performance. National Theatre Connections (17-19 March) showcasing exciting new performance by the next generation of actors and producers with local youth theatre companies including local Kendal’s Brewery Youth Theatre, Theatre Royal Youth (Workington), TBTL’s own Young Company and others from around the UK. A must see for musical fans, Malory Towers (27 March – 18 April) is the original ‘Girl Power’ story by Enid Blyton, reimagined for the 21st Century. One Side Lies the Sea (27 – 18 April) is a musical journey through the brilliant communities that inhabit our coastline from Newlyn to Maryport, Silloth to Hornsea. In Cumbria, one of the stories comes from The Solway’s very own ancient Viking tradition of Haaf net fishing.


Nature’s Winter s an exciting and immersive installation exploring nature and weather through a sensory experience of light, sound and story. Perfect for families with pre-school and young children.

The Museum celebrates its first birthday on 23 March and marks this milestone with a series of events across the weekend of 21-22 March including the chance to see a a fully restored 1930 motor launch Penelope returning to the water for the first time in over a decade.

The spirit of outdoor adventure as captured in Arthur Ransome’s children’s book Swallows and Amazons will be explored across the site, plus there will be a brand new interactive exhibition in the Museum featuring a recreation of Ransome’s study complete with original sketches, manuscript and desk, there’s the chance to type your own story and rediscover his iconic children’s story through a specially commissioned animated film by Lou Kneath. The exhibition opens 13 March and runs until 2021.


Treasures of China (until 26 April) is major new exhibition unveiling the splendour of almost 3,000 years of imperial culture. Rarely seen porcelain, embroidery, calligraphy, silk, jade and other precious items from nearly four-thousand-years of Chinese imperial culture.


Running prior to the poetic anniversary is the North West’s leading literature festival Words by the Water (6 – 15 March) where the curious, the bookish and the adventurous gather at Theatre by the Lake to rub shoulders with writers and thinkers.

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.