We love Christmas here in the Lake District. The fell tops are dusted with snow, the inns are warmed with cosy log fires, and our towns and villages are lit with sparking Christmas lights, all combining to create a real-life winter wonderland that is difficult to rival. With Father Christmas making numerous appearances around the national park, the season is a great time to take a long weekend break with the family and enjoy some festive cheer, Cumbrian style.

1. Join the Father Christmas Tea Party at the World of Beatrix Potter

Santa in magical forest

This December, Father Christmas is hosting special tea parties at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere. Along with entrance to the attraction that features the much-loved characters created by Beatrix Potter, guests can enjoy lunch with Santa who will bring gifts for the children. The animation version of the Tailor of Gloucester will also be screened. The attraction is ideal for families with pre-school aged children, and you must book in advance for the Father Christmas tea party. Combine your visit to the attraction with some Christmas shopping in the many independent shops in Bowness or take a Windermere Lakes Cruise aboard a heated steamer.

The Father Christmas Tea Parties take place daily between 16th and 22nd December, costing £15 for children and £20 for adults, which includes lunch, entrance to the main attraction, entrance to the winter wonderland with Father Christmas, and a gift for children.

2. Try to Find Rudolph on a Winter Walk

Stag by Wastwater

Stag along the shores of Wastwater

We might not have reindeer here in the Lake District, but we do have other species of deer roaming amongst the fells, such as Red Deer and Roe Deer. Wrap up warm, pack a flask with some hot chocolate, and see if you can spot Rudolph, Dancer, Comet, or one of Santa’s other deer helpers amongst the trees. Some deer hotspots include Ennerdale Forest, Grizedale Forest, and Martindale Common between Ullswater and Haweswater. Of course, do make sure you observe basic fell walking safety at all times, checking the weather forecast before you go.

3. Take Shelter at an All Weather Attraction

Rheged Centre

The Rheged Centre (Mick Garratt / Geograph.org.uk)

There are plenty of all weather attractions open throughout the season that are perfect for when the weather is less than favourable. At the Rheged Centre this December, you can visit Father Christmas in his grotto, follow a special Gingerbread man trail, make Christmas decorations, and much more. Over in Keswick, if you prefer your day out to take on a more adventurous nature, why not experience the chills of winter in the Kong Adventure centre where you can climb a real ice wall. Be warned though, the temperature is kept to a shivering -7 degrees!

4. Watch a Christmas Show

Mother and children at the cinema

There is a delightful choice of family friendly shows to choose from this December that will help you get into the Christmas spirit. At the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, you can see what happens when winter decides to move into one man’s house, bringing a white Christmas all year round, in the interactive show, Snow Play. In Bowness, at the Old Laundry Theatre, a Christmas spectacular can be witnessed as a number of classic festive tales have been carefully woven together in a show that includes a visit from Santa with gifts for children in the audience.

The Christmas Gift is showing for just three days, so do book your tickets early to avoid disappointment. In Kendal, there are two Christmas themed shows to choose from at the Brewery Arts Theatre. The Snow Dragon, from the same production team that created the popular stage show version of the Gruffalo, has been performed around the world, and is coming to the Kendal theatre for just two days in December. Alternatively, Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf is a thrilling re-telling of a classic tale.


Snow Play

  • When: Monday 11th to Saturday 23rd December, 2017
  • Where: Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
  • Tickets: www.theatrebythelake.com

The Christmas Gift

  • When: Tuesday 19th to Thursday 21st December, 2017
  • Where: Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere
  • Tickets: www.oldlaundrytheatre.co.uk

The Snow Dragon

  • When: Monday 4th to Tuesday 5th December, 2017
  • Where: Brewery Arts, Kendal
  • Tickets: www.breweryarts.co.uk

Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf

  • When: Tuesday 19th to Sunday 31st December, 2017
  • Where: Brewery Arts, Kendal
  • Tickets: www.breweryarts.co.uk

5. Explore an Ancient Castle with Added Festive Cheer

Several of the Lake District’s historic properties are open for visitors in December and are putting on special Christmas events to celebrate the season.


Sizergh Castle

Sizergh Castle at Christmas
At Sizergh Castle in Kendal, visitors can sign up to attend a Christmas cake decorating or Christmas wreath-making workshop. In addition, at the café, guests can book into a Christmas lunch, and the castle is even hosting Father Christmas in a grotto where children can receive a gift. Booking is essential. For further details visit the National Trust's website.

Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle at Christmas

In Lowther Castle, there are a plethora of festive events taking place including a special festive themed treasure hunt that is rewarded with a gingerbread man, a Christmas art installation with real Christmas trees available to buy, Christmas markets and late night shopping, wreath-making workshops, and two special evening celebrations packed with entertainment suitable for the whole family. Visit the Lowther website  for more information.


Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle at Christmas

At Muncaster Castle, there are special evenings available that enable guests to see the castle’s resident owls by moonlight. The evenings include supper and a talk by an owl expert, followed by a delightful flight display by the birds in the illuminated gardens. Alternatively, visitors can choose to book into one of the castle’s festive afternoon teas in the Great Hall, or opt for a combined package that includes a ride on the Ravenglass railway and a guided tour of the castle, with lunch. For more information visit the events page on the Muncaster Castle website