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Kendal Mountain Festival Survival Guide

What's on?

The festival includes film screenings, panel discussions, Q&As, speakers, live demos and workshops for you to get stuck in. There’s the Kendal Literature Festival as well, jam-packed with readings, talks and discussions. Conserving the planet features heavily this year and there’s over 30 different Literature & Arts events for 2019. 

One of 2019’s special headliners is Lake District resident Paul Tierney who recently set a new record for tackling all 214 Wainwright climbs. Paul is a running coach based in Windermere and ran for six days and six hours covering 318 miles of mountain terrain, scaling the equivalent to four ascents up Mount Everest! 

Other ‘big acts’ that are an established part of the KMF circuit, include a dinner talk from non-other than the adventure duo Doug Scott and Sir Chris Bonington. 

Over the festival, as is to be expected of the KMF, there are several world film premiers. ‘Eastbound’ follows the endurance cyclist Jenny Graham on her round-the-world trip. There’s the premiere of the behind-the-scenes film of The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, the world’s toughest 5-day mountain running race and is sure to be inspiring to say the least. For family-friendly activities, there’s several free Volvo Family Film session at Kendal Leisure Centre and the Children’s Story Camp is in the tent village in the Brewery Arts Centre. The vertical dance performance from Cumbria Youth Dance will certainly spark little imaginations too. Take the kids to Kendal Leisure Centre for ‘Skootervs BMX’, with live tracks on stage. We’ve even heard there will be some drone flying tricks! 

View the Festival Planner

Don't Miss

Take a break from binging on films to complete the Adidas 10K, which starts at 11am on Saturday. The trail takes you out of Kendal centre and up Scout Scar, returning with a town centre finish. 

If this trail isn’t for you, but you fancy taking part in something, join Sir Chris Bonington for the Opening Ceremony, which includes a ‘descent’ down Captain French Lane to the festival village at the Brewery Arts Centre. 

Don’t miss a visit to the Festival Book Shop in the grounds of the Brewery Arts Centre too - a little-known gem.

Apre's

A festival would not be a festival without letting your hair down with a few beers, and for both Friday and Saturday nights there’s plenty of choice for some après action; opera and piano performance inspired by the mountains,  the Festival Ceilidh, the Yeti Silent Disco, and afterparties at Ruskins Bar.

Festival Freebies & Fuel

The Basecamp Village is built from reclaimed wood and dressed in prayer flags. It is located within the huge marquee on the Brewery Arts Centre grounds. Here you’ll find bars and cafes and it is the main social hub of the festival. New for 2019 is the Volvo Village in the Leisure Centre and you can also grab a beer or coffee here too. Expect to pay for cups this year via a cup deposit scheme (you can claim your £1 or donate it to The Woodland Trust) but drink happy, knowing that after three uses the cup has a lower environmental impact than a single-use cup.  

There’s lots of goodies and giveaways to collect from brand tents and stages. Plus you’ll also see the latest in outdoor gear from the likes of Marmot, Lowe Alpine, Patagonia, Columbia and Mountain Equipment to name a few. If you’re turning up at the festival without any tickets, there’s still lots to take in.  The Columbia and Marmot Stages both have a busy schedule of speakers and workshops all over the festival weekend and they are all free. There are free Alfred Wainwright Mountain Guides Art Sessions as well, which you can get involved in at Kendal Library. And we’re looking forward to having a go with the VR headsets from clothing brand TenTree and go on a journey through Madagascar.

Shhhhh Don’t Tell Anyone

Secret Sessions’ are taking place over the weekend at various times. They are one-of-a-kind events and are £7 a ticket and promise to feature some very special guests.

And the Oscar Goes to…

7pm on Saturday, the Basecamp Stage hosts the festival awards ceremony, including the announcement of the Heart of the Lakes Photography Exhibition.  There are a limited number of tickets, but they are free so make sure you grab one! The theme for the Photography Competition is openness’ and the breathtaking 12 shortlisted pieces of work can be seen over the festival at the Brewery Arts Centre Intro Bar.  

Where to Stay

The Brewery Arts Centre is in Kendal town centre, and is ‘basecamp’ for the festival, so this is where most of the action is. There are six other venues, all in Kendal: Kendal Town Hall, Shakespeare Centre, Abbott Hall Social Centre, Kendal Leisure Centre, Kendal Library and new for 2019, Ye Olde Fleece Inn. These are all within 20-minute walking distance of each other, so no need for the car. Parking in the town centre should be avoided really, to avoid disrupting your mountain-inspired zen. Alternatively, stay in a nearby town or village. Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick are well-serviced by the local bus station. Also, it is worth noting that this year the Festival has partnered with Lift Share where drivers can offer to pick up other people going to the festival if you have space, or you could get a lift yourself as a passenger. Going car-free also means you can enjoy the festival as well as Kendal town centre’s superb hospitality.