Events and Festivals
Visit Keswick keeps a comprehensive listing of the myriad of activities, experiences, festivals and events going on locally, all year round. We highly recommend checking out their What’s On page. Below, we offer a snapshot of the annual highlights:
All year round: Theatre by the Lake, Keswick Alhambra Cinema, The Rheged Centre
Each year Theatre by the Lake stages up to nine of its own productions of classic, modern and new plays on its two stages and has won multi-starred reviews from national critics. It also hosts Keswick festivals of literature, jazz, film and mountains. As guests of Fornside Farm Cottages, you can enjoy discounted tickets.
Our superb local cinema, Keswick Alhambra, has two screens and offers a packed programme all year round, with both the latest films and, during its own festival periods, themed films. We keep a weekly cinema listing in our Laundry Room for guests.
As well as a cinema, cafe, shops and farm foods, The Rheged Centre has a wonderful ever-changing space that holds four exhibitions a year, featuring a diverse range of crafts, textiles, painting and photography. Celebrating British arts and crafts, our gallery brings together both established and emerging artists.
Keswick has another history full of murder, intrigue and tortured souls. From slate-built houses to the surrounding lakes and fells this is an area steeped in legend and mystery. Follow “The Lady”… if you dare! Book through Keswick Ghost Walks.
Keswick Film Festival … Lights, camera, action! See more than 30 films on the big screen (or its smaller twin) with both light and thought-provoking offerings at the cinema, Keswick Alhambra.
Words by the Water, a 10-day programme of literary events in Keswick at Theatre by the Lake. Talks, lectures, discussions, workshops, book launches and special exhibitions.
Lakeland Festival of Lights is an annual fundraising event. In return for a small fee / donation to the Michelle Jurd Trust which helps young people and veterans experience the great outdoors, you can take part in a spectacular torchlit walk up Catbells.
The four-day Keswick Jazz Festival brings together many of the world’s finest exponents of mainstream and traditional jazz. The programme sees over 100 jazz events hosted by a dozen different venues, all covered by the festival’s pass.
The Keswick Mountain Festival attracts thousands of visitors to Keswick for a wide range of sporting and outdoor events, live music and inspirational speakers. The events are a great way to test yourself and push your boundaries.
The Fred Whitton Sportive is one of the most popular sportives in the UK and is also famed as being particularly difficult. Dubbed ‘The Daddy of them all’ by Cycling Weekly, riders rank it alongside European events such as the Marmotte in terms of difficulty. The ride is a real challenge and everyone who completes it has a true sense of achievement. Entries open in December of the previous year, but if you prefer to watch them whizz past, you can do so anywhere along the route and, of course, enjoy the festival atmosphere at the finish line in Grasmere.
Over 250 barrels of beer, lager and cider will be available to sample at the Keswick Beer Festival, with live bands providing the entertainment. The Keswick Beer Festival is always a sell-out, so be sure to book early!
The Lakesman Triathlons are in 2024 offering a ‘Half’ (i.e. half ironman distance), a Swim/Bike and a Bike/Run. They are hoping to offer the Full Triathlon again in 2025.
Most years, July is when the Derwentwater Regatta takes place. A weekend of mayhem and madness afloat, with the chance to climb aboard in a variety of races on Derwentwater. Check the Visit Keswick page for details near the time.
The Lakeland Trails 100 (km) is in mid-July, and has an iconic midnight start for a truly memorable journey, encompassing the finest trails the Lake District has to offer. Lakeland Trails are known for hosting fantastic running events, on the same weekend they offer shorter distances of 55km, 23km and 14km.
The final weekend in July offers an even more epic Ultra, the Lakeland 100 (miles -!). Its circular route encompasses many Lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. It weaves through stunning valleys, coutours picturesque fells and cuts it’s own line through the amazing Lakeland topography.
JULY – AUGUST
The annual Keswick Christian Convention has been taking place since 1875. It offers something for everyone – life-changing bible teaching, worship and fellowship, with separate kids and youth programmes.
The Keswick Agricultural Show is usually on the last weekend of August. The show attracts large numbers of competitors, exhibitors and spectators, and features both commercial and charity stands. It’s a great day out for all ages, we love it.
The 15km Derwentwater Trail Race follows well-marked and marshalled courses through some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the Lake District … the Glendaterra Valley, which you can see from Fornside (look north, it nestles between Lonscale Fell and Blencathra). Shorter 5km and 10km routes are also available. Organised by the brilliant Lakeland Trails.
Whether you’re looking to complete your first half marathon or are a veteran of this event then The Keswick Half Marathon, circuiting of Derwentwater with a loop into the Newlands valley, is probably the most scenic 13 miles 192.5 yards in the country. Be warned, it is probably one of the hilliest road half marathons in the UK! This is an important annual fundraiser for our local rugby club.
In partnership with the Lake District National Park, the Thirteen Valleys Ultra was a new annual event from 2023. It celebrates the 13 unique valleys of the Lake District National Park which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site status, by linking them all together. You can choose between one trail distance: 2 Valleys (21km) and three ultra distances: 5 Valleys (55km), 7 Valleys (110km) and 13 Valleys (180km). Each of them will take you through spectacular trail running around the magnificent lakes and valleys of the Lake District. An epic adventure!
Although there are no ‘famous’ annual events during this month, there is still plenty to do! Check the Visit Keswick page for details of one-off events, and enjoy the year-round opportunities offered by the huge variety of fells, lakes, museums and galleries. Read our recommendations for rainy/lazy/cultural and fun days or pick a walk or ride from one of our suggestions.
Keswick Christmas Lights Swich On offers a fun afternoon and evening of lights, music, food and craft stalls. There are usually two switch-ons, one for youngers in PackHorse Court, and a later one for the remainder of the town. There is always a main stage with various performers and the town has a busy and fun vibe on the night. The date is around 20th of November each year; check the Visit Keswick page for details near the time.
Usually the first weekend of December, the Keswick Victorian Fayre will really get you into the Christmas spirit! Throughout the day there is live entertainment by local artists, bands, choirs, and dancers in the Market Square and in Packhorse Court. as well as a children’s funfair. There are over 30 charity stalls selling homemade crafts, produce, festive food and drink, together with games and tombolas.
Near the start of December, the annual Santa Splash is a giggle. Head down to the Keswick Boat landings to watch teams of Santas and Elves race on Derwentwater. Check the Visit Keswick page for details near the time.