Things to do Lake District

Santa Claus is coming to Cumbria!!

Looking up to the beautiful Langdale horseshoe, the tops glisten in the freshest white snow. The magic of winter and Christmas is just around the corner.

The weather has been wonderful over the past month, with the frost and sunshine that makes postcard material.

If you are planning on joining us for the festive season, there is plenty to do. I have picked out a few of my favourites below:

2nd December – Cockermouth Lantern Parade

See Cockermouth lit up by candlelight and beautiful handmade lanterns. The shops are open late as well, and since Cockermouth is bursting with independent shops you are sure to find that perfect gift for someone.

3rd December - Windermere Christmas Light Switch On

We don’t do things by halves round here. This is a nearly a full day event, starting with a craft fair in the morning at the Ladyholme Centre in Windermere, then local choirs providing some festive tunes at 4pm to lead into the parade at 4:45pm. The parade goes through Windermere and Bowness with a very special guest making an appearance (hint – he has a suit and a white beard, and looks like he’s eaten all the pies). To finish, a spectacular display of fireworks on the park rounds off the day brilliantly. Don’t worry, there is plenty of mulled wine available to keep you warm!

3rd – 18th December – Lakeside Railway Santa Express

Santa opens his grotto aboard the Santa Express, taking you on a 1.5 hour journey between Haverthwaite and Lakeside with some assistance from his elves. There will be carols, a seasonal drink for the adults, a festive treat for the kids and plenty of on-board entertainment. A great trip for the whole family.

10th December – Big Chill Swim in Windermere

OK, so not exactly a traditional Christmas event, but it is around these parts. Setting off from Low Wood Bay, Ambleside, hardy folk think it’s a good idea to plunge into the freezing cold waters of Windermere and race their peers. It’s usually held in February but has moved to December as there is some renovation works planned in February at the Low Wood Hotel. If you don’t fancy swimming yourself, it is a great event to come and support anyway and quite a sight to see so many people doing their bit for charity.

10th – 11th December – German Christmas Market in Windermere

Nothing quite says Christmas like a German Christmas Market, and Windermere is hosting it’s first ever on the weekend of the 10th December. Bring your pennies for currywurst, schnitzel, mulled wine and some great gifts.

18th December – Santa Cruise on Ullswater

No Lake District Christmas is complete without Santa taking one of the cruises out on t’lake.  Join him from Glenridding as he brings some magic to Ullswater, and meet the elves helping him throughout the festive season. There are activities on-board, a magic show, and a free mince pie thrown into the mix. Under 3’s are free.

18th December – Yule Sing on Hoad, Ulverston

A short drive to Ulverston will offer up this unique chance to sing inside a lighthouse! The Hoad monument towers above Ulverston, and it’s opening its doors so that everyone can join in a good ol’ fashioned sing song of yuletide classics. Make sure you wrap up as it can get a bit chilly on top of those hills!

17th – 22nd December – Santa Express at Ravenglass Railway

A bit of a drive away from the lodge, but a wonderful experience for those with kids as Santa sets up grotto on board the steam train Dalegarth. If you are wanting to make a full afternoon of it, then book a Christmas lunch as an additional extra!

Until 23rd December – Santa at Hayes Garden World

This gets booked up fast, as Santa is a busy guy you know! The big man has set up his grotto at Hayes Garden World, Ambleside, so that the kids can go and see him and his elves prepare for Christmas. Each child will get a little gift, and a photo to mark the occasion.


It also gives the adults a perfect excuse to find that special Christmas decoration for this year from the amazing display that Hayes have to offer. That’s worth a trip in itself.

30th December – Stargazing at Grizedale

Professional astronomers are joining the team at Grizedale Forest to take everyone through the secrets of the stars above us. A wonderful chance to reflect, and a magical opportunity for the budding Brian Cox amongst the group.



What is your favourite thing to do over Christmas in the Lakes? 

A Potter Round Tarn Hows

The Lake District has a walk for everyone and this is best exemplified by the National Trust’s Tarn Hows in Coniston. The short two-mile circular route is well maintained and has been carefully constructed to make it accessible for those with pushchairs or wheelchairs. It is also a nice short walk for those unpredictable days when you want some wonderful views but not the chance of getting caught out on top of a fell in the howling wind or rain!


Even though you are not that high up, the views looking out towards Coniston and the Langdale Pikes are inspiring. Remember to pack a picnic so that you can relax by the tarn over lunch. There really isn’t a more peaceful sight, watching the coots play in the calm water. You have a mixture of the best parts of the Lakes here – the tarn (water) and the hows (hills).


If you want to learn more about Tarn Hows you can join a guided tour (times changeable depending on season) and electric scooters, called trampers, are available for those with mobility issues. It truly is a walk accessible for all; exactly what the National Trust wanted in the heart of the South Lake District.


As with many routes around the area, the trail orienteering markers are present along the way, so those of you who are looking for more of a challenge can have some fun too.


If you would like more information about accessible walks in the Lake District, take a look at ‘Miles Without Stiles’.

Lowther Castle

A drive through the amazing views of the North Lake District and Eden Valley can lead you to the beauty that is Lowther Castle in Penrith.

A bit of history, a bit of nature and lots of fun can be had in traditional Medieval Cumbrian style here.

If you take a walk through the well maintained gardens you are rewarded with views like this across the Lake District National Park.


The castle resurrected itself from its practical ruins in 2011 with an intensive renovation project.

Grand Designs would have been awestruck as it was one of the largest renovation projects ever taken place in Europe. For the first time in 70 years, Lowther Castle opened its doors to the public once again.

You would think that with the relatively new opening that everything would have the modernised gleam to it, but this isnt further from the truth. The restoration has been done very conservatively and you get to enjoy the castle and the grounds in all its traditional glory. Just how a castle is meant to be. Restoration work is not complete but this adds to the curiosity as you wonder what they are working on next. They are still uncovering parts of the castle where the grounds have been left to take over the buildings. It is a truly amazing sight to see nature claiming its territory.

Lowther Castle has hosted royalty and celebrities. There is a summerhouse where the Queen has hosted events from. More recently it is the site for the biggest Cumbrian music festival Kendal Calling (which did start off life in Kendal until it got that little bit too big!)

The extensive grounds have deer and wildlife to watch, there are rope swings and even traditional stone baths in the gardens.They are grounds for sporting activities and sink holes in the most random places. You get a sense that this was a place where the upper class really got to relax and live. There is nothing better than a day out with the family to play in the pretence for at least a couple of hours.

After a few hours of exploring the gardens, the onsite café offers wonderful cakes, drinks and meals. Many of which are locally sourced.

Top Tip – get yourself a My Cumbria Card to get savings on various eateries, bars and activities in the county, including the castle.