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Holker Hall Garden

Longer summer days and warmer weather marks the start of outdoor theatre, summer shows, picnic season and strawberry teas. So, dig out the picnic basket, shake out the rug and start planning summer afternoon and dusky evenings, chilled fizz and strawberries. This itinerary will guide you through exploring in the Lake District this Summer.

It’s fair to say that outdoor theatre is for the dedicated, the curious, the adventurous – it goes ahead whatever the weather – and I’ve enjoyed them on balmy summer days and stormy evenings overlooking moody lakes –without exception they’ve all been memorable.  The trick is to be prepared. Take the advice of a seasoned regular – you can’t have too much stuff! Seating is not provided.  A rug is essential, a low back chair for comfort, an umbrella – for shade or rain protection! And a well-stocked picnic basket (and check out if the venue is doing takeaways or BBQs) Be a weather optimist – pack the sunscreen and a hat.

This year it feels even more exciting – getting back to live performances, supporting actors, musicians, and production crews – and the adventure of doing it all in the open air. We’re British after all! Here’s my roundup of what’s on this summer!


 Theatre in the Lakes

Muncaster Outdoor Theatre

Muncaster Outdoor Theatre

The Merry Wives of Windsor are visiting two of our heritage gardens this summer. Five actors, with all manner of musical instruments, with an inventive take on Shakespeare’s raucous comedy at Lowther Castle on Tuesday 29 June and then on to Muncaster Castle on Friday 2 July both start at 7pm.  Prepare for a lively event as The Three-Inch Fools give this Shakespearean classic the full ‘Fools’ treatment with lots of live music-making, deft physicality, vibrant story-telling with quick costume change along the way! Book tickets in advance lowthercastle.org and muncaster.co.uk.

Let’s stay with Shakespeare as we encounter The Tempest – blowing up a storm (well, we hope not!) at Talkin Tarn Country Park on Thursday 8 July. Shakespeare specialists The Pantaloons Theatre Company take us on a voyage to an enchanted island full of adventure, romance, magic and… monsters in the Bard’s brilliant tale of shipwrecks, sorcerers and silly servants. Starts at 7pm.  Book online

Holker Hall presents Tales of Oz, for a proper family day out on Saturday 10 July. It will take us on a different road to adventure, this time a yellow brick road – as we’re off to see the Wizard. The whole garden is the stage, and your little Munchkins will literally travel with Dorothy to the Emerald City on a charming ‘walk along, sing a long adventure’.  Pack your pop and cupcakes for the picnic basket.  Sessions start from 10am, last one at 4.30pm, fun for all ages 3+ – holker.co.uk/event/tales-of-oz/

The popular outdoor theatre company, Illyria bring the Further Adventures of Doctor Doolittle to Brantwood’s meadow on the shore of Coniston. Featuring a fully orchestrated score, amazing puppets, and a plethora of songs – you’ll be singing all the way home!  Perfect summer fun for everyone aged 5+. The Terrace café is also open. Friday 20 August Book ahead to ensure your spot in the meadow!

And finally, for our theatre program, The Fools return to present the world’s best-known love story, Romeo and Juliet at The Lakes Distillery! On Sunday 25 July at 4pm. This romantic epic promises to be a carnival of passion and imagination and live music-making. Book your tickets asap – I’ve a feeling this might prove a popular venue!

After many cancellations last year, we’re delighted that some of our historic houses are back with their popular annual events.

Events in the Lakes

Potfest Simon Griffiths Wayne Clark outside

Potfest in the Park

Head south to Holker Hall as they welcome the Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club for their annual The Car’s the Star Show on Sunday 11 July. Held in the spectacular parkland surrounding the Hall, the event will include displays from all eras (I’ll be looking out for the 1960’s Rambler Ambassador or a fine Jaguar E-Type!) – with classes and awards for all types of vehicles – as well as arena displays, trade stands and autojumble this show’s not just for the petrol heads. Tickets from Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club.

An annual favourite of mine and one I particularly missed last year is Potfest In The Park. Set in the backdrop of Hutton-in-the-Forest, Potfest has become a place of pilgrimage for makers, collectors and admirers of the finest contemporary ceramics. It’s great to make a purchase, but just as lovely to look and chat to the makers.  I remember on my last visit being entertained by a local band and eating some delish ice cream – I can’t wait! Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th July, 23.  Checkout potfest.co.uk/in-the-park

Whatever the weather this summer it’s going to be hot, hot, hot at the Holker Chilli Fest. A 2-day Festival with specialist chilli companies from all over the country, local specialist food suppliers, cuisine from around the world and a variety of quirky, fiery food-inspired gifts up at Holker Hall. Fear not, they also cater for the non-spice lover and have plenty of family-friendly entertainment. Things start heating up at 10.30am on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September. 

Please check for the most up-to-date information about opening times, special events and, in some cases, how to pre-book your visit.

Dogs on a lead are allowed at many of my listed events – but check before you go. Don’t leave your dog in the car. 


With so many exciting events, plan your summer staycation in the Lake District today!