What's on in Kendal?

We have a list of what's on in Kendal that includes festivals, theatre, family fun, days out ideas and adventure around Cumbria's very own gateway to the Lake District.

If you're looking for things to do in South Lakeland, Kendal is a good place to start – and not just because it’s the first major town you come to in Cumbria if you’re heading up from the M6. Kendal is one of the culture hubs of Cumbria – with some big venues, including the Brewery Arts Centre , Kendal Leisure Centre – which hosts lots of music and comedy – and Abbot Hall Museum and Art Gallery which hosts huge exhibitions with the likes of Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth and Paulo Rego.

First up, let’s get rid of a popular Kendal myth – because Cumbria’s biggest music festival Kendal Calling is not actually held in Kendal anymore. We started it here but now it’s so massive that they’ve moved it to Lowther Deer Park, near Penrith. It’s been held there for the past few years now – although every summer we still get lost-looking backpackers, clutching sleeping bags, covered in face paint and wandering aimlessly up Highgate.

Our biggest events in the town – the ones that are actually in the town – happen over the summer when we’ve got a cracking range of festivals to amuse and entertain. First off, an army marches on its stomach, and so may we introduce to you the great Kendal Food Festival, in March. The town’s main street, Highgate, and all the surrounding squares and yards fill up with stands full of Lakeland’s best produce. We’ve got some brilliant specialities in our county – Kendal Mint Cake, Hawkshead Relish, Hawkshead Beer, Cartmel Cheese, Kendal Speciality Foods, Furness Fish and Game. You will not go hungry in this town.

After that, you’re on a roll of great festivals. Comedy lovers can see some of the country’s best performers, as they head to the annual Freerange Comedy Festival, at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre. This usually happens in May, kicking off the peak season.

Then there’s Mint Fest. This is a huge gathering of street arts, food and entertainment, laid on in Kendal’s town centre in August. It’s got a real European vibe, with strange jugglers tumbling out of the shops and mini circus tents popping up in the parks. Most of it is free too, so it’s a great day out for the kids.

And then there’s the Westmorland County Agricultural Show, which we have firmly placed on our list of 50 Things to do Before you Die in Cumbria. It’s a one day show, on a Thursday, where a Noah’s Ark like procession of animals - although maybe more than two cows - head to Crooklands, just outside the town, to frolic and to be flaunted, in one of the county’s biggest shows.

It doesn’t stop there, for the outdoorsy there’s Kendal Mountain Festival, where climbing fanatics and adventure junkies gather to see film footage from the world’s most daring, hear talks and meet some of the most fearless people alive.

Then, there’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which takes place in October. This started last year and was a huge success, with major graphic artists coming from across the country and overseas to celebrate the artform. Kendal Town Hall filled up with sellers, publishers, writers, artists and some pretty freaky costumes, and there was a whole raft of talks from the good and the great of the comics world. Marvel comics fans, you’ve just got to be there.

Those looking for a great day out with the kids can head to S izergh Castle, just south of the town, with is great gardens and stately home. And then there’s Levens Hall, a stunning Elizabethan historic house, with its world famous gardens.