30 things to do in Cumbria in 2017

Sadie Tierney at the 2016 marmalade festival
Sadie Tierney at the 2016 marmalade festival

There’s so much to see and do in Cumbria you could fill every weekend with a trip or event.

Cumbria Life magazine has drawn up 100 things to do in the county during 2017. We’ve narrowed it down to just 30 suggestions to give you some time off to recover...

Big gigs
1. Little Mix, Bryan Adams, Olly Murs and Jess Glynne will all play summer concerts in Carlisle.
Little Mix are at Bitts Park on July 16, that's just one day after Adams, who is performing there on July 15. Murs will be wowing the crowd at Brunton Park on June 3. Jess Glynne will be performing at Carlisle Racecourse on July 8.

Wander up a Wainwright
2. Or huff and puff, depending on the size of the task! The legendary fellwalker’s books are an eight-volume love letter to the Lake District. Invest in the set and follow in the great man’s footsteps for some spectacular views and memories.

Cumbria Life Home & Garden Show, Penrith
3. Hundreds of ideas for your home and garden are brought together at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, on March 18 and 19.

4. National and internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers will be appearing at the long-established Words by the Water literary festival at the Theatre by the Lake (March 3 to 12) and the more recent event Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival (October 6 to 8).

Tuck into an award-winning garden centre café
5. The editors of the respected Good Food Guide chose Mrs Miller’s, at Hazel Dene Garden Centre at Culgaith near Penrith, as the best local restaurant in the north west – and who are we to argue? Weblink: mrsmillersculgaith.co.uk

All the fun of the fair
6. Once experienced, the sights and sounds of Appleby Horse Fair are never forgotten, from washing the horses in the River Eden to the hundreds of traditional caravans (June 8 to 14). Weblink: applebyfair.org

Settle to Carlisle railway reopens
7. After major engineering works to repair damage inflicted by the 2015 floods, the Settle to Carlisle line will fully reopen in March. Take advantage by taking a trip through Eden Valley before crossing the Ribblehead viaduct.

Spectacular vision
8. There’s no need to venture far to see the Northern Lights or aurora borealis as the colourful phenomenon can be viewed over the Solway. Look out for information in March/April and September/October.

Be independently minded
9. Cumbria has some fine examples of independent bookshops, including Michael Moon’s in Whitehaven; The New Bookshop in Cockermouth; Bookcase in Carlisle and Keswick and The New Hedgehog in Penrith

Live like a hobbit
10. Experience life underground – albeit with views of the Ullswater valley – by booking a Hobbit Hole holiday home at The Quiet Site holiday park. Weblink: thequietsite.co.uk

Drive of your life
11. Test yourself with the exhilarating drive over the steep and twisting Hardknott Pass – often said to be Britain’s most difficult road – and stop off to visit the remains of the remote Hardknott Fort. Surely one of the remotest outposts for a Roman soldier.

Food glorious food
12. The Taste Cumbria festivals feature producers’ markets, demos and masterclasses galore. The Cockermouth event (September 23 and 24) has been joined by Taste Cumbria Ulverston (May 27 and 28) and a Christmas festival in Cockermouth (December 9 and 10). Weblink: tastecumbria.com

Go potty for ceramics
13. Some of the highlights of Cumbria’s cultural year are Potfest in the Park at Hutton-in-the-Forest near Penrith (July 28 to 30) and Potfest in the Pens (August 4 to 6) at Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith, featuring work by more than 200 potters. Weblink: potfest.co.uk

Reach your limit
14. Challenge yourself with the classic Lakesman Triathlon at Keswick on June 18; the muddy obstacle course Gelt Gladiator at Brampton on June 10 and 11, and the popular 112-mile cycle ride Fred Whitton Challenge on May 7.

Ghost Walks
15. Scare yourself silly on a ghost walk around Carlisle, Keswick and Cockermouth. Guided tours of Carlisle take place on the first Thursday of each month.
Tickets available from Carlisle Tourist Information Centre or visit www.discovercarlisle.co.uk
Lakeland Hauntings float through the streets of Cockermouth and Keswick. Weblink: www.lakelandhauntings.co.uk

Fantastic festivals
16. Try a homegrown festival, including award-winning Kendal Calling (July 27 to 30); Music on the Marr for music, song and dance at Castle Carrock (July 20 to 23 July); eclectic Solfest near Aspatria (August 25 to 27) and Ireby Festival (May 26 to 27).

Lakeside theatre
17. The sheer quality of the productions performed by Cumbria’s only repertory theatre make us all very lucky to have it in our county. The theatre has a new boss, Conrad Lynch, and a new season of plays. Weblink: theatrebythelake.com

Make Paddington’s favourite food
18. Enter a jar of homemade marmalade for The World’s Original Marmalade Awards and then visit the unique festival held at Dalemain House and Gardens near Penrith on March 18 to 19. Weblink: dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk

Theatre al fresco
19. Watch outdoor theatre at Lanercost Priory where Chapterhouse Theatre Group presents A Midsummer’s Night Dream (August 13) and Pride and Prejudice (August 25). Weblink: chapterhouse.org

Flower power
20. The gardens at Muncaster Castle reach their crescendo each May when a riot of colour erupts from the rhododendrons and azaleas. Weblink: muncaster.co.uk

Maritime history
21. Walk around Whitehaven harbour home to yachts, fishing boats and The Beacon, where you can discover more about the town’s maritime history. Walk up to the Chimneystack, once part of Wellington Pit, and look out for the words of former miners ingrained in the stone steps. Weblink: thebeacon-whitehaven.co.uk

The mighty Aira Force
22. The famous Ullswater waterfall now has its own ferry stop and an off-the-road path linking it to Glenridding. If you’re feeling ambitious, why not complete the Ullswater Way, a 20-mile route around the lake?

Here comes the cavalry
23. Find out more about life as a Roman solider at a major new exhibition, Hadrian’s Cavalry, which takes place along the 150-mile length of Hadrian’s Wall (April 8 – September 10) takes place along the length of the 150-mile.
Highlights include a Roman cavalry re-enactment in Bitts Park, Carlisle (July 1 and 2).

Bluebell heaven
24. Blow away the winter blues with a carpet of sweet-smelling bluebells this spring. Top bluebell spots include Rydal Mount, Rannerdale Knotts, and Wreay Wood, near Carlisle.

Martindale magic
25. Home to wild red deer and the tiny church of St Martin, Martindale on Ullswater’s eastern shore, is a hidden gem of a valley. Look out for the 1,300 year-old yew tree in the churchyard.

Offer your services
26. Do your bit for the local landscape and volunteer for one of Friends of the Lake District’s Fell Care Days. Cumbria Wildlife Trust, The National Trust, and The Lake District National Park Authority also offer volunteering opportunities in the great outdoors.

Champion gurners
27. It might be best known for people pulling funny faces but Egremont Crab Fair has a long and illustrious history.
One of the oldest fairs in the world, it celebrates its 750th anniversary in September. Weblink: egremontcrabfair.com

Cathedral city
28. Carlisle Cathedral offers a place of peace among the bustle of the city centre. Discover the history of this 900-year old cathedral on a guided tour, or simply sit and enjoy the tranquility. Weblink: carlislecathedral.org.uk

Show time
29. From the traditional shepherds’ meets to the all-singing, all-dancing county events, Cumbria wouldn’t be Cumbria without its rural shows.
The two biggies are the Cumberland (June 17 at new venue East Park, Brisco) and the Westmorland (September 14) but there are dozens of other village and country shows to support.

Charity walk
30. More than £350,000 was raised for good causes by last year’s Keswick to Barrow walk. Do your bit by signing up for this year’s K2B (May 6). Just in case you’re wondering, it’s 42 miles. Weblink: keswick2barrow.co.uk

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