The Best Pre-Christmas Festivities in the Lake District

The Best Pre-Christmas Festivities in the Lake District


Let there be light

The best pre-Christmas festivities in the Lake District

The Winter Droving is a magical festival in Penrith that celebrates all things rural, traditional and fun. The event highlight is a torch lit procession through the town featuring fire, lanterns, masquerade and music and mayhem.

The event is a celebration of Penrith and its age old role as the market place for the local area, a place where for centuries livestock and produce has been brought for sale. There’s live music and street performers across five stages, a vintage funfair, the local food and craft market, and a Dog Fancy Dress Competition.

The Winter Droving ends with the spectacular torch and lantern procession. Want to be part of it?  Register to carry a fire torch (over 16 year olds only) or wear a mask and join in the procession.

A day-long festival bringing light into the winter darkness, with Christmas cruises across the head of Windermere, the arrival of Father Christmas to switch on the town’s lights, and a huge parade, at dusk, when hundreds of home-made Chinese paper lanterns are carried through the town centre.

Tickets for the cruises are ONLY available from F.W.Tyson (The Mephisto Shop), Market Place Ambleside, but can be ordered by post. From noon there are stalls and music in the Market Cross and Market Place areas of the town. Mince pies and mulled wine are on sale.

The lantern parade assembles near the White Platts mini-golf centre at the foot of Compston Road at 4pm. The festival ends with a firework display in Rothay Park at 5.30.

The centre of Ulverston is no place for Ebeneezer Scrooge when the entire market town goes back to the Dickensian era for a weekend of joy and generosity. Along with the town’s cosy cafes and pubs, independent shops and the Christmas lights switch on, there’s the chance to get dressed up in Victoria costume, ride a Victorian Helter- Skelter, and listen to a brass band playing carols. Street food stalls sell roast chestnuts and there’s a hog roast. Lots of free entertainment and music, and there might be an appearance by Queen Victoria and Mr Bumble as well as Father Christmas.

The entire centre of this small village is taken over for one of the best Christmas fairs in the country, with stalls all along the village streets and indoor markets as well. Lots of crafts and gifts, and a big emphasis on locally-produced street food and drink; with a mini beer festival in village pubs. There’s also a lantern parade, live music and streets performances, including circus acts, and of course Santa is in his grotto.

Family entertainment in and around the town centre, with Victorian costumes, a nativity scene, the arrival or Santa and Mrs Claus in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, a children’s fun fair, live music and dance performances.  Lots of charity stalls selling a selection of Christmas homemade crafts, produce, festive food and drink.  The day ends with a traditional carol service.

Formerly known as Windermere Christmas Market, this is a family friendly event on the streets of the town with market stalls, crafts and gifts, street food, singers and performers. There will be snow cannons, Santa’s Grotto, live music and a shuttle bus provided for the event running from Windermere Lake Cruises Pier 1 in Bowness.

  1. Penrith Winter Droving, Saturday October 27.
  2. Ambleside lights and lantern parade, Saturday November 17.
  3. Ulverston Dickensian Festival, Saturday and Sunday, November 24/25
  4. Hawkshead village Christmas fair, Saturday and Sunday Dec 1/ 2
  5. Keswick Victorian Fayre, Sunday  December 2.
  6. Windermere Christmas Celebration Saturday and Sunday December 8/9.
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